February 11, 2024

Zero Waste to Landfill at The Green Gathering... this happens because YOU help us!

Zero waste goes to landfill at The Green Gathering - we reuse, compost and recycle, then the small amount left over is incinerated to create energy for use in Wales. 

You all help us achieve this – ever wondered how? Here we’ll run through the festival’s reuse, upcyling and recycling systems, which aim to avoid creating waste at all - we prefer to call ‘waste’ a rich resource which might just need some creative energy to give it a new direction in life!


On site you’ll have seen our collection hubs where we ask you to think before you throw, so your cast offs go into the right bag for Greensweep, our dedicated recycling team, to fine-sort and process.

We know the 14 categories of recycling can be mind-boggling. So, thank you for taking the time to find the right bag! Greensweep crew sort the bags by hand to ensure as much as possible is reused or recycled, and they appreciate your care in making their job a positive experience. 

Food waste

This has been highlighted as one of the highest contributors to carbon emissions so we aim to keep it to an absolute minimum; it’s also super important to separate food waste to avoid contamination of items that could be reused or recycled. Keeping the waste stream clean can make a big difference to reuse and recycling rates.

Even better than recycling is upcycling!

Can your used item be given a new lease of life on site? Our upcycling experts are  at Clean Stream, near the Info Exchange. They’ve dreamed up creative ways to salvage materials and turn them into attractive purses, lampshades, signs and more. 

Clever ways of wasting less

Clean Stream also demonstrates water saving tip-taps for handwashing, and dehydration of food waste using an Open Air Solid Waste System, which makes it easier to store and transport food waste where there isn’t a handy nearby compost heap. OASSWSS was invented by volunteer Ben Boyes who was also inspired to build an Environmental Clinic in his home country, Ghana. This film describes Ben’s experiences and offers inspiration.


Using resources wisely means keeping materials and energy circulating.

We’re lucky enough to be able to compost all our food waste on site, providing nutrients to the soil, and in 2023 we grew beans in previous years’ compost – which were cooked into delicious dishes by our site crew kitchen during the festival build!

Most of the food eaten on site is transported in, so we choose local and sustainable suppliers. We eat the food and transform it into energy – fuel for dancing and working and playing – then, once digested, what’s left of that fuel ends up in the festival toilets, the majority of which are compost loos. The contents of these loos become fertiliser and crops benefit from the enriched earth. Then the crops are harvested and may even be brought to site for us to eat...  That’s circularity.

It's way bigger than recycling old packaging!

Circularity is in full swing at Green Gathering, it goes beyond recycling and it’s embedded all the way through.

Our power is generated on site using 100% solar energy. Via the Green wizardry of solar panels, batteries and inverters, the sun’s rays are converted into music, lighting and all the electricity we need. If you’re curious about how the wizardry works, you can learn all about it at our Resource Hub... then implement what you’ve learned and spread the word beyond the festival.

Our production team loves finding ways to reuse materials – from the big stuff like wood for structures and hessian scree to the smaller details like handcrafted bunting and reusable cable ties. We have been asked to calculate ‘how much is reclaimed from the waste stream’ by these practices, to which we looked quizzical. Why would anyone put such resources in a bin? We don’t reclaim these things from the waste stream – we never let them get near a skip if they’ve still got life in them! 

Then there’s Crock ‘n’ Rock, where you can borrow real mugs, plates and cutlery and so avoid all that wasteful single use serveware. The Crock ‘n’ Rock crew will even wash up for you – and they use water heated on SLiCK’s Solar Stoves, which capture and maximise heat from the sun! 

We also work with Camplight, a workers’ co-op saving camping gear from landfill by refurbishing it to rent, encouraging people to travel light and take public transport or cycle – there are even special offers for car-free travellers. In 2023 Camplight’s activities at GG saved 2.1 tonnes of C02… equivalent to six flights to Madrid!

So, zero waste to landfill...

Landfill is the end result of ‘linear’ ways of working – the opposite of the ‘circular’ movement of energy we try to achieve. Linear movement of energy equates to things being taken out of use and dumped, rather than being reused or processed into new,  useful, items or resources. We clearly can’t afford to keep depleting and polluting the earth in linear fashion. 

So, with your help, we avoid linear and send nothing to landfill. Here’s what happens to the items you separate into our Greensweep bags:

  • Food waste is composted on site.
  • Paper and card are composted or used to light community campfires; surplus is recycled off site.
  • Plastic bottles and cans – some upcycled on site, most recycled off site.
  • Glass is recycled off site.
  • Tetra paks are collected by Clean Stream and upcycled on site, or taken to Nottingham by Veggies Catering Campaign for recycling, because we haven’t yet found a recycler in the Chepstow area.
  • Plastic wraps are reused where possible (easier if clean); the rest are transported off site with hard-to-recycle items and are incinerated for energy recovery (in other words they create electricity), at a local Welsh site.

Think before you throw

Think at least twice before adding to Greensweep’s recycling bags – if there’s any life left in what you’re wanting rid of, you could donate it to our Permaculture Free Shop, Bearcat’s Swap Shop in the Kids’ Garden, or to Tat for Tibet. Camplight upcycle old tents and Clean Stream will help you decide what to do with unwanted items if you’re not sure where to take them.

Thank you!

A massive thank you to all our festival-goers for your attention to detail when choosing what to do with your ‘waste’, and for minimising waste in the first place.

A huge thank you to our Greensweep recycling team for their dedication.

And a giant thank you to Clean Stream, Crock n Rock, SliCK Solar Stoves, Veggies and our other traders, Compost John, Bearcat, Camplight, the Permaculture and Info Exchange crews, Production Team, Site Crew, Power Providers, Resource Living, Windcraft and everyone else involved with The Green Gathering because it is truly a team effort and a monumental achievement…

Circularity Zeroes Waste!!

For more info check out our web pages: 

How Green – for the low-down on (almost) everything sustainable we do

The Green Traveller Guide – for transport tips & tent hire offers

Resources – for tips on how to run a sustainable event

Thanks to Jak Hill, GG sustainability liaison, for this blog and related research

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