How Green?

windwonderfulwind-150x150The Green Gathering Sustainability Policy

All contractors, volunteers and directors undertake to respect people, animals and the environment in the production of the festival. Waste, destruction, pollution, fossil fuel use and feeding corporate profits are to be minimised in the production of the festival.

All activities undertaken by The Green Gathering – the charity and its production company – aim to promote environmental sustainability, ecological awareness, biodiversity, human rights, and appropriate education, technology and communication.

Implementing the Policy


1. Electrical Power & Lighting

  • almost all of our on-site electrical requirements are met by solar-generation

  • a small amount of our on-site electrical requirements may be wind- or pedal-generated, or stored in batteries charged whilst driving to the event; this includes all venues, traders, workshops, lighting, on-site offices, water pump, and charging of mobility vehicles

  • soft-start water pump bought in 2016 to reduce load on solar power providers

  • all on-site festoon and stage lighting is LED

  • no generators – diesel, petrol or bio-fuel – are used on the festival site

2. Heating and Cooking

  • our showers and saunas are wood-fired, using over 50% scrap wood and offcuts sourced locally

  • our caterers mainly use bottled gas; in 2016 three of our caterers were wood-fired, we had an interactive showcase of working solar ovens, and held workshops in building and using fuel-efficient stoves

  • we provide communal fires for warmth in the evenings, using approximately 50% scrap wood and offcuts sourced locally; this prevents lots of individual fires being lit, without imposing a total ban which would cause a loss of valuable community-building

3. Transport

  • we encourage car-sharing via Go Car Share

  • we charge for vehicle passes, encouraging car-sharing and public transport use

  • we provide detailed info about public transport to the festival

  • we arrange a guided cycle ride to the event from Bristol (with incentives) when we can find a guide

  • we limit the number of live-in vehicle passes available

  • we offer affordable hire options of tipis, yurts, bell tents and Camplight recycled tents – making it easier for people to travel by public transport or bicycle without heavy loads

  • we provide a shuttle mini bus with trailer from our off-site carpark to the main event site; only essential vehicles ever drive onto the site, and movement of those essential vehicles once on site is strictly limited

  • we arrange deliveries of locally produced bread, veg, milk and eggs so traders don’t need to drive off site for these and food-miles remain low; we also arrange delivery of bottled gas and dried staple foodstuffs to avoid multiple trips off site

  • we provide cargo-trike transport to and from venues for performers’ equipment

4. Food

  • we ask all caterers to use our suppliers

  • our bread is from a local bakery, baked fresh and delivered to site daily

  • our milk and eggs are organic, from a local farm (G & R Morgan), delivered to site daily

  • our veg is delivered twice during the festival, by Four Seasons Organic, a small Bristol-based family-run company which uses local growers where possible (Bristol is 18 miles away)

  • dried foods are delivered pre-event by Essential Trading, a Bristol-based wholefood co-op

  • organic caterers are given priority in the application process, as are those with a commitment to using local produce and those using re-useable cups

  • we don’t accept traders who sell meat or fish

  • we always have some vegan food stalls (aiming for 30% in 2017)

  • all food waste is composted on site

  • we have strict trading conditions for caterers; trading conditions ‘bonds’ may be retained if conditions are broken:

    no polystyrene or disposable plastic containers or bottles; serve-ware must be fully compostable (no bio-plastics); no one-portion condiment sachets; no non-organic canned drinks; no palm oil (unless certified sustainable); no GM ingredients; no Coca-Cola or Nestle products; use only organic milk and free-range eggs; use only Fair Trade coffee, tea, sugar, chocolate and bananas; avoid products made by large multinational corporations; cleaning products must be biodegradable

  • a Green Gathering Ethical Trader award scheme encourages caterers and other traders to consider their environmental impact and to aim high

  • we hold workshops on vegan baking, ethical cooking, avoiding food waste, foraging, permaculture systems of food-growing, low-energy cooking (eg rocket stoves, solar ovens), preserving and composting

  • we invite food waste groups such as Bristol Skipchen / the Real Junk Food Project to the event to raise awareness

  • we run a popular donation based crockery-hire-and-washing service – Crock ‘n’ Rock – to reduce use of disposable serve-ware (trialled 2015, expanded 2016 & again 2017)

5. Bars

  • our bars sell ciders and beers from small producers based in Somerset and Gloucester; organic wines and spirits; elderflower champagne; and locally produced soft drinks such as apple juice, elderflower cordial and ginger beer

  • our bars do not sell bottled water or soft drinks in disposable containers

  • our bars only use sturdy re-useable glasses, with deposits to encourage their return

  • our cocktail bar uses compostable paper straws and edible decorations

6. Re-use, Recycling & Waste

  • we have multiple sets of highly visible and educational recycling bins, where waste is separated into 13 different categories

  • Greensweep, our recycling team, hand separates any waste that gets mixed up, and is available to explain the different categories of waste

  • kids & teens upcycling workshops creatively re-use waste on site

  • as mentioned in ‘food’, all food waste is composted on site & used by our Permaculture area

  • recycling rate 62% in 2014; similar in 2015; down to 46% in 2016 due to landfill waste being dumped in recycling skip while it was waiting in the carpark to be collected (otherwise would’ve been c. 70%)

  • we have gradually increased our proportion of compost toilets and in 2016 achieved >50% compost toilets, of which a quarter are permanently erected on site and the waste is composted in situ, while the remainder are provided by Natural Event which composts the waste in Somerset

  • Camplight demonstrate the importance and possibilities of saving, reusing, repairing and upcycling camping gear

  • we include workshops such as ‘Make Do and Mend’ or a ‘Repair Cafe’, and a free shop

  • we discourage use of disposable items such as hazard tape, gaffer tape and single-use cable ties; site crew use reuseable cable ties wherever practicable

7. Educational Aspects

  • Many of the talks in our Speakers’ Forum and workshops in the Kids, Campaigns, Permaculture, Crafts and Earth Energies areas are geared to informing and inspiring festival-goers to engage positively with environmental, sustainability and climate change issues

  • The event as a whole is a showcase of what can be done with renewable energy and low impact alternatives

  • Several workshops each year are specifically geared to practical skill-sharing in renewable technologies and low impact alternatives, with all ages and skill levels catered for

  • Our publicity, website etc also carry these messages

  • The Green Gathering Charity has a mission to reach out beyond the annual August festival and bring the wealth of expertise in our community to a wider audience

  • In 2016 the GG Charity ran the Crock ‘n’ Rock service, funded a Radical Youth space and improved Assisted Access facilities at the GG festival.

  • The Charity also supported a ‘Celebration of Sustainable Futures’ event in rural Carmarthenshire

Festival Vision 2025 Pledge – with Powerful Thinking

The Green Gathering’s production company signed this pledge in spring 2016:

We aim to achieve a 50% reduction in festival-related annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. As a participating festival, we will put measures in place to achieve this, such as:

  • Reducing waste where possible and aiming for 50% (or more) recycling rates by 2025

  • Reducing reliance on fossil fuels where possible and aiming to reduce annual diesel consumption by 50% (or more) by 2025

  • Working with audiences, suppliers and artists to positively influence travel choices and reduce travel-related emissions

  • Working with the supply chain to improve accountability and the sustainability of food sourcing

  • Working together as an industry to share experiences (positive and negative) about changes we make, sharing best practice and working toward industry standards where appropriate

  • Measuring key impacts using credible methods in order to measure progress.

  • Sharing information to enable annual reporting for the industry e.g. working with Powerful Thinking and other closely affiliated organisations such as Julie’s Bicycle and A Greener Festival”

Areas identified to improve upon over the pledge period

  • Carpark lighting – could be LED and solar-powered
  • Fuel milescustomer, crew, traders and artists’ travelcould be reduced

  • Food sourcing is good but still room for improvement

  • Reduce waste of all kinds

  • Ensure recyclables are recycled

  • Increase information, education and encouragement

Barriers to improvement

  • costs

  • customer & crew habits/expectations

  • supply lines

  • site geography

Solutions to work towards

  • continue to build on current financial sustainability through careful budgeting, good marketing and provision of a great event (doing this – ongoing)

  • prioritise environmental sustainability when budgeting (doing this – ongoing)

  • aim for the Green Gathering Charity to raise funds and invest in sustainability solutions for the festival

  • more raising awareness about the impacts of car travel (doing this – ongoing)

  • encourage further car-sharing and public transport use via social media, website (doing this – ongoing)

  • prioritise crew, artists and traders who don’t need to make long vehicle journeys (doing this)

  • clarify guidelines regarding restriction of free vehicle passes for crew, artists and traders (doing this)

  • discourage traders and crew from making unnecessary local vehicle journeys (do it more)

  • if/when financially viable, provide free or inexpensive shuttle buses from Chepstow and Bristol

  • request local bakery goods supplier to provide additional organic options (done)

  • remind traders of trading conditions on arrival (will do in 2017)

  • increase proportion of organic, local and seasonal produce in crew catering

  • increase vegan ale provision (will do in 2017)

  • expand the Crock ‘n’ Rock service (will do in 2017)

  • charge extra £50 to caterers using disposable serve-ware and use this to fund Crock ‘n’ Rock and/or Greensweep Recycling (will do in 2017)

  • ensure recycling skips are covered and labelled while waiting for pick up (will do in 2017)

  • book recycling crew to stay longer so last litter-picks are thoroughly sorted for recycling (will do in 2017)

  • improve signage and layout of recycling containers to make sorting easier for customers

  • further increase % of compost toilets; look at possibility of producing bio-gas from toilets (doing this)

  • include educational material and info about what happens to the waste after it leaves site

  • include more practical workshops, skillshares and showcases specifically geared to renewable technology, waste reduction and low impact alternatives (doing this – ongoing)


A work-in-progress.

We are working towards better measuring in the following areas:

  • Crew, artists and traders travel
  • Audience travel
  • Fuel ‘saved’ by not using generators (will be an estimate)
  • Water and sewage

We’d also like to know how much environmental impact festival-goers are having while at the festival compared with being at home/work, and more on how The Green Gathering has a lasting effect on festival-goers’ behaviour such that environmental impact is reduced in the future; these things may be tricky to measure…


This is a living document…


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