How Green?

windwonderfulwind-150x150The festival’s ‘Green’ ethos is embedded in all we do

The Green Gathering is a showcase of real life, low-impact alternatives. Its focus is education for sustainability, with the emphasis that education should be hands-on and fun. The festival’s philosophy is ‘beyond hedonism’ and we aim to provide an environment where creativity can be applied to ecological and social dilemmas. This translates into a tapestry of skill-sharing and entertainment, all powered by wind, sun and people.

Campaign stalls and a Speakers’ Forum vie for attention with tiny music stages showcasing up-and-coming and avant-garde talent. Traders and caterers are picked for their ethical sourcing policy and the quality of their wares. Workers’ co-op stalls, handmade goods and organic produce are abundant. Traditional sustainable crafts are passed on to new generations. In the Permaculture zone practical future-proofing skills and short courses in permaculture design are taught. There are forays into the surrounding woodland for wild food, and campfires on which to cook hand-picked produce.

Festival-goers frequently say that attendance at a Green Gathering inspired them to change their outlook, habits and lifestyle. Where many festivals are all about forgetting responsibilities and enjoying the show, GG aims to trigger a sense of responsibility and to equip festival-goers with the mindset and skills to transform their lives, and the world, for the better.

The 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 festival, its production company and the charity – aim to promote environmental sustainability, ecological awareness, biodiversity, human rights, and appropriate education, technology and communication.


Implementing the Policy

Electrical Power & Lighting

Policy: Power used at the festival to be derived from renewable source


  • 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
  • A soft-start water pump was bought in 2016 to reduce load on solar power providers
  • All on-site festoon and stage lighting is LED
  • No generators – diesel, petrol, gas or bio-fuel – are used

Heating and Cooking

Policy: Energy for heating and cooking to be derived from sustainable sources where possible.


  • Our main showers and sauna are wood-fired, using approximately 50% scrap wood and offcuts sourced locally
  • Our caterers mainly use bottled gas but we encourage alternatives. In 2017 two of our caterers were wood-fired, we had an interactive showcase of working solar ovens, and held workshops in building and using biochar and wood-gas stoves
  • In our Permaculture zone, crew cooking utilises wood-gas, solar and biomass ovens and rocket stoves.
  • We provide communal fires for warmth in the evenings, using at least 50% scrap wood and offcuts sourced locally; this prevents lots of individual fires being lit, without imposing a ban which would cause a loss of valuable community-building
  • Campers are reminded to respect woodland and wildlife habitat by not removing/burning green or rotting wood from the festival environs


Policy: Crew, artists and public should be encouraged to minimise emissions to the environment in their travel choices. On site journeys should be minimised when possible and fuel efficient driving methods adhered to.


  • 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
  • From 2018 we will provide and promote a shuttle bus from the local train station to the festival, on a donation basis
  • We arrange guided cycle rides to the event from Bristol (with incentives)
  • We limit the number of crew 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 car-park 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 and bar supplies
  • Our Medical team and (from 2018) our Security team use bicycles to attend non-emergencies and short distance call-outs which are often quicker to reach by bicycle than by motor vehicle.

Food & Drink

Policy: Local and affordable 100% meat and fish free food and ethically/sustainably sourced fair trade products such as beverages. Strict rules for minimising disposable waste and fully compostable system.


  • We ask all caterers to use our suppliers
  • Our bread is from a local bakery, baked fresh and delivered to site daily, high % is organic
  • 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 100% vegan food stalls, and most stalls offer a good range of vegan options (in 2017 we aimed for one third vegan foodstalls and achieved 6 out of 19)
  • 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; no non-organic canned drinks; no palm oil unless certified sustainable; no GM ingredients; no Coca-Cola or Nestle products; no one-portion condiment sachets; use only organic milk and free-range eggs; use only Fair Trade coffee, tea, sugar, chocolate and bananas; cleaning products to be biodegradable (where these can be found that meet food hygiene requirements); avoid products made by large multinational corporations
  • A Green Gathering Ethical Trader award scheme encourages caterers and other traders to consider their environmental impact and to aim high
  • 2016-2017 we held workshops on subjects such as vegan baking, vegan cheese making, ethical cooking, avoiding food waste, foraging, permaculture systems of food-growing, low-energy cooking (eg rocket stoves, solar ovens), preserving and composting
  • We have invited food waste groups such as Bristol Skipchen / the Real Junk Food Project to the event to raise awareness
  • We run a donation based crockery-hire-and-washing service – Crock ‘n’ Rock – to reduce use of disposable serve-ware (trialled 2015, expanded each year 2016-2018)
  • All crew catering operations use reuseable serveware
  • In 2017 we trialled “green ice” – made on site in a freezer powered by solar panels – and managed to supply two bars and two caterers; we hope to expand this provision in 2018


Policy: Alcohol sourced from local producers and/or sustainable sources and served in reusable containers.


  • Our bars sell ciders and beers from small producers based mostly in Wales, Somerset and Gloucester (Salisbury is the furthest we source from); 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

Re-use, Recycling & Waste

Policy: The use of disposable items and production of waste is discouraged and minimised by promotion of reuse, up-cycling and repair. Genuine waste is composted or recycled where possible and education is provided on recycling categories and minimising waste to landfill.


  • We have multiple sets of highly visible and educational recycling bins, where waste is separated into 13 different categories and Greensweep, our recycling team, hand separates any waste that gets mixed up, and is available to explain the different categories of waste
  • Up-cycling workshops creatively re-use waste on site
  • As mentioned in ‘food’, all food waste is composted on site
  • From 2018 all compost produced on site will be used in our Permaculture zone for planting and educational purposes
  • Recycling rate 73% in 2017 (up from 48% in 2016 when rubbish was dumped in our recycling skip)
  • We have increased our proportion of compost toilets (20% in 2014, 50% in 2017, aiming for 70% in 2018). The waste is composted in Somerset, for agricultural use
  • 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’, a free shop and swap shop
  • Sale of items in/of single-use plastic has been banned in our bars and food stalls since 2014
  • Plastic glitter banned since 2016; ‘bioglitter’ advised against since Dec 2017 (until full research into biodegradability in fields and water courses is completed and ethical sourcing is confirmed)
  • We discourage use of disposable items such as hazard tape, gaffer tape and single-use cable ties; site crew use reusable cable ties wherever practicable

Educational Aspects

Policy: To encourage positivity, communication, offer information and knowledge across the festival and through social media to stimulate and inspire current and future generations of responsible beings.


  • 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
  • The GG Charity runs the Crock ‘n’ Rock service, has funded a Radical Youth Space and free Craft workshops, supported a ‘Celebration of Sustainable Futures’ event in rural Carmarthenshire in 2016, has improved Assisted Access facilities at the GG festival and in 2018 is funding a Biodiversity Assessment of the festival site to help us protect and respect local flora and fauna


Policy: To act ethically and sustainably in all we do

A Few Examples of Implementation:

  • We bank with Unity Trust Bank (promotes a socially responsible and sustainable approach to banking)
  • We use Co-opportunity (a workers’ co-op) as our accountants
  • We network and work with other organisations to promote ethical and sustainable messages; to this end we have joined A Greener Festival; contribute to events such as the Green Events and Innovations conference; took the Festival Vision 2025 pledge; and signed up to and spread the message of Yourope’s Take A Stand initiative

Priority areas to improve upon in 2018 and beyond

  • Off site car park lighting could be solar-powered (currently car park uses 3 diesel-powered tower lights, the only diesel power utilised by the festival)
  • Fuel miles (customer, crew, traders and artists’ travel) could be reduced
  • Food and beverage sourcing is good but still room for improvement
  • Further improve waste reduction, reuse and recycling
  • Further increase % of compost loos
  • More information, education and encouragement to audience
  • Better measuring and recording of what we do
  • More consideration of local impact of festival

Barriers to improvement

  • Costs
  • Customer & crew habits/expectations
  • Supply lines
  • Site geography
  • Capacity of current crew and directors to do more in terms of workload

Solutions: ongoing work to make improvements and overcome barriers

  • continue to build on current financial sustainability through careful budgeting, good marketing and provision of a great event
  • prioritise environmental sustainability when budgeting
  • encourage the Green Gathering Charity to raise funds and invest in sustainability solutions for the Gathering
  • raise awareness about the impacts of car travel, encourage further car-sharing and public transport use via social media, website
  • provide free or low cost shuttle bus from Bristol  /  Cardiff
  • prioritise crew, traders and artists who don’t need to make long vehicle journeys
  • discourage traders and crew from making unnecessary local vehicle journeys
  • increase proportion of organic, local and seasonal produce in crew catering and bars
  • keep increasing % of compost toilets as budget allows
  • provide educational material and info about what happens to our waste after it leaves site
  • include more practical workshops, skill-shares and showcases specifically geared to renewable technology, waste reduction and low impact alternatives
  • undertake biodiversity study of Piercefield Park
  • engage more crew or bring on more volunteers to increase capacity to do this work
  • increase vegan ale provision (achieved 2017)
  • expand the Crock ‘n’ Rock service (achieved 2017)
  • charge extra £50 to caterers using disposable serve-ware and use this to increase funding to Crock ‘n’ Rock (achieved 2017) and Greensweep Recycling (planned 2018)
  • ensure recycling skips are covered and labelled while waiting for pick up (achieved 2017)
  • book recycling crew to stay longer so last litter-picks are thoroughly sorted for recycling (achieved 2017)
  • improve signage and layout of recycling containers to make sorting easier for customers (achieved 2017)
  • request local bakery goods supplier to provide additional organic options (achieved 2017)
  • clarify guidelines regarding restriction of free vehicle passes for crew, artists and traders (achieved 2017)
  • run shuttle bus from Chepstow train station (achieved 2018)
  • engage with relevant research eg into sustainability/compostability of various forms of serveware, ethics of ‘bioglitter’ etc (ongoing)


We are working towards better measuring in the following areas:

  • Power generation / fuel use (achieved thorough energy audit by REsource Living 2017)
  • Crew, artists and traders travel (achieved for artists 2017)
  • Audience travel
  • 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; while these things may be tricky to quantify, we do have anecdotal evidence of behaviour change. If you can contribute to evidence gathering on this aspect, please contact


This is a living document…


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