how green?

OUR ‘GREEN’ ETHOS IS EMBEDDED IN ALL WE DO

The Green Gathering is a showcase of real life, low-impact alternatives. The festival’s philosophy is ‘beyond hedonism’ and we aim to provide an environment where creativity can be applied to ecological and social dilemmas in a tapestry of skill-sharing and entertainment, all powered by sun, wind, people and passion.

Campaign stalls, activist workshops and spoken word venues vie for attention with intimate music stages showcasing up-and-coming talent and socially conscious performers. Traders and caterers are picked for the quality and ethical sourcing of their wares. Heritage craft and renewable technology skills are passed on to new generations. Our Permaculture community demonstrates practical future-proofing, Nature's Way and the Enchanted Woods put us in touch with the earth and our own hearts, and the TrAd Village encourages us to connect and grieve.

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.

For a deep dive into some of our practices, have a look at the Resources page too - that's where we freely share our 'secrets'!

THE GREEN GATHERING POLICY

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 festival production.

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

ELECTRICAL POWER & LIGHTING

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

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*Our on-site electrical requirements are primarily 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, festival offices, water pump, and charging of mobility vehicles.
*No generators – diesel, petrol, gas or bio-fuel – are used.
*A soft-start water pump reduces the load on our solar power providers.
*All festoon and stage lighting is LED.
*The tower lights and box office in our off-site carpark are also solar powered.

HEATING & COOKING

Policy:
Energy for heating and cooking to be sustainably sourced where possible.

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*Our caterers mainly use bottled gas but we encourage alternatives.
*We use solar ovens to heat washing up water for Crock n Rock (reusable serveware team) and several of our food stalls.
*Campers are reminded to respect woodland and wildlife habitat by not burning green or rotting wood from the festival environs.
*We provide communal fires for warmth in the evenings; this prevents lots of individual fires being lit, without imposing a ban which would cause a loss of valuable community-building.
*All wood used for fuel in our sauna and on our campfires is locally sourced scrap wood or from sustainably managed very local woodland.

transport

Policy:
Crew, artists and public to be encouraged to minimise emissions in their travel choices. On site journeys to be limited to those necessary for festival production with fuel efficient driving methods adhered to.

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*In 2019 we launched a #GreenTravellerChallenge and each subsequent year we update and improve our Green Traveller Guide.
*We encourage public transport use, cycling, walking and lift-sharing; we provide detailed information to help make these options easy to choose, and we offer incentives (eg free programmes).
*We provide a stewarded shuttle bus from the local train station to the festival, and from our off-site carpark to the festival, on a donation basis.
*Only essential vehicles ever drive onto the site, and movement of those vehicles on site is strictly limited, with a no idling policy.
*We encourage packing light with our Joys of Packing Less guide and a Quick Turnaround Shuttle for people who can carry their load in one go.
*We offer affordable tent and camping accessory hire in partnership with Camplight (upcycled tents) and Hearthworks (tipi dormitories, new in 2024), with discounts for public transport users and cyclists.
*We charge for public vehicle passes and encourage carsharing.
*We limit the number of free crew and artist vehicle passes; while over 50% of people drove to the festival in 2016, under 47% did so in 2023.
*We arrange deliveries of fresh local produce, dried staple foodstuffs and gas, so traders don’t need to drive off site for these.
*We provide trike or barrow transport for performers’ equipment.
*Our Medical team often uses bicycles to attend non-emergencies.
*Our Security team uses vehicles only when necessary.
*We’re registered with ecolibrium and offer festival goers chance to check out the carbon emissions associated with different forms of transport. Ecolibrium also offers to ‘balance’ travel emissions by donating to renewable energy projects. We prefer to encourage behaviour change, but offer this balancing option as part of our ticket shop.

FOOD & DRINK

Policy:
100% meat- and fish- free food, as local and affordable and ethically-sourced as possible, with an aim to increase the % of vegan, organic and fairtrade products year on year. Strict rules for minimising waste, anything single-use must be fully compostable.

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*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, eggs and veg are delivered to the festival by Four Seasons Organic, a small family-run Bristol 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, as are those with a commitment to using local produce and those using reusable cups.
*All food stalls are vegetarian.
*We have gradually increased the number of entirely vegan food stalls (half our food stalls entirely vegan in 2023), and most stalls offer a good range of vegan options.
*All food waste and single-use serveware (which must be compostable without industrial processing) is composted on site.
*Strict trading conditions for caterers: no single-use plastic containers; 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. Trading ‘bonds’ may be retained if conditions are broken.
*A Green Gathering Ethical Trader award scheme (with pitch discount for winners) encourages traders to consider their environmental impact and to aim high.
*We run a donation based crockery-hire-and-washing service: Crock ‘n’ Rock. In 2019 this expanded from a mainly public-facing operation to a service providing real crockery to our food stalls, reducing use of single-use serveware considerably.
*Caterers unable to supply their own reusable serveware pay a £50 surcharge.
*All crew catering operations use reusable serveware.
*Trader HQ aims to divert unwanted food from stallholders to crew catering operations to avoid waste and save money.
*Our Trader manager works closely with stalls wanting to improve their ethical / sustainability standards, providing advice and encouragement at no cost to stall-holders. Stalls have been encouraged to invest in solar power and LED lighting, change their packaging and suppliers, and eliminate palm oil - not just for GG but for all subsequent festivals.
*We aim to ensure the less financially well off aren’t excluded from cafes by high prices - to this end, all caterers agree to provide a child-friendly meal for £5 or less.
*We hold 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 been researching carbon labelling for menus and hope to implement this with Foodsteps in the future.

bars

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

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*Our bars sell ciders, beers and mead from small producers based mostly in Wales, Bristol, Somerset and Gloucester; organic wines and organic or artisan spirits; elderflower champagne; and locally produced or organic soft drinks such as apple juice, temperance cordials and ginger beer. In 2023 we partnered with ethical soft drink supplier Lemonaid (organic, fairtrade, social enterprise, glass bottles).
*The majority of beers and ciders are vegan and this is clearly marked.
*We do not sell bottled water, we offer refills into people's own bottles.
*All bars serve in sturdy reusable cups.
*Our cocktail bar has an extensive temperance (alcohol-free) menu.
*Our bar prices are comparatively low and largely volunteer-run, with profits being invested in the festival and its venues.

REUSE, RECYCLING & WASTE

Policy:
The use of disposable items and production of waste is discouraged and minimised by promotion of reuse, upcycling and repair. Remaining waste is composted or recycled where possible and education is provided on sorting and minimising waste.

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*Our best recycling rate so far was 86% (incl. compost) in 2022, up from 71% in 2016. Total waste produced in 2022 was 8.96 tonnes, reduced from 13.5 tonnes in 2016.
*Waste which cannot be reused or recycled is incinerated for energy production in Cardiff.
*We have highly visible, educational recycling stations, with waste separated into 14 categories. Greensweep, our recycling team, hand separates any waste that gets mixed up, and is available to explain the different categories of waste.
*Upcycling workshops creatively reuse waste on site include repair stalls, a free shop and a swap shop.
*All food waste that can't be salvaged and all single use serveware is composted on site and the compost is available for use by our Permaculture community. In 2023 we planted runner beans in the compost which were then cooked and eaten in our crew kitchens.
*Proportion of compost toilets has increased from 20% in 2014 to over 70%. In 2024 all public toilets will be compost loos except for approx. 12 accessible polyjohns. The waste from our compost loos is composted in Somerset, for agricultural use.
*Our wristbands are made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic.
*Sale of items in/of single use plastic has been banned in our bars and food stalls since 2014.
*Plastic glitter is banned and ‘bioglitter’ advised against. Disposable vapes are discouraged.
*Hazard tape used minimally until 2019 then largely replaced with reusable ‘danger bunting’. Where hazard tape remains, look closely - the knots and creases show that it has been salvaged and reused!
*We discourage use of items such as gaffer tape and single use cable ties; site crew use reusable cable ties where practical.
*Camplight demonstrates the importance and possibilities of saving, reusing, repairing and upcycling camping gear.
*We've had a rolling Don’t Be A Mug – Bring Your Own! campaign since 2018. Mugs to hire or buy are available for those who don’t bring their own.
*Our Plastic Free Periods campaign is aimed at raising awareness of reusable and plastic free period wear and we created dedicated ‘Moon Loos' to support use of washable menstrual products. At Welfare we sell reusable period wear at no profit.
*We promote the concept of 'deep recycling' which goes beyond sorting waste and transporting it off site, primarily through our Cleanstream depot in the Campaigns Field.
*We're in discussion about an experimental water filtration and recycling system for one of our shower blocks, with a view to reducing fresh water consumption.
*2023: we consulted hydrogeologists with a view to better understanding the potential impact of grey water run-off on our festival site. A small study looked at soil samples pre- and post- festival and found little impact on soil composition.
*2023: we continue to encourage responsible audience behaviour via blogs and campaigns, eg: Circularity Zeroes Waste at Green Gathering and Planet Saving Redux.

EDUCATION, SOCIAL IMPACT & BEHAVIOUR CHANGE

Policy:
To offer information, knowledge and encouragement at the festival, through online platforms and real-world networks...
to stimulate and inspire current and future generations of responsible humans.

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*Many of the talks in our Speakers’ Forum, Voices of Gaia talkspace and workshops in the Kids, Campaigns, Permaculture, Nature’s Way, Hill Village, TrAd Village and Crafts areas are geared to informing and inspiring festival-goers to engage positively with environmental, sustainability and climate change issues.
*Our publicity, website etc also carry these messages.
*The event as a whole is a showcase of what can be done with low impact alternatives to business-as-usual.
*Several workshops are geared to practical skillsharing in renewable technologies, with all ages and skill levels catered for.
*Our on site Resource Hub is a highly visible centre of excellence with one-to-one ‘clinics’ for those wanting to incorporate renewable technology into their home, workplace or event.
*We have dedicated an area to transformative adaptation – accepting and working with the reality and grief of climate change and biodiversity loss, while remaining positive about taking action to mitigate further damage.
*We've extended our showcase / skillsharing of endangered heritage crafts with a view to future resilience.
*Family-friendly moth, flora and wildlife spotting workshops are a regular part of the programme and we’ve collaborated with an MSc research project into bat activity.
*We have an ongoing Not Just Net Zero campaign to raise awareness that carbon counting and offsetting isn’t sufficient to mitigate climate change.
*We encourage responsible consumer behaviour eg by blogging about the ethics of textiles and fashion, challenging festival-goers to dress up but ‘buy nothing new’.
*We offered free activist tickets as a thank you to campaigners and to highlight their causes (2022).
*We provided a series of guest lectures on event sustainability at the BIMM institute in Manchester (college of music and creative industries) (2022).
*We regularly share resources and blogs with organisations such as A Greener Festival, Festival Vision and ecolibrium - for example, our Green Traveller Guide, now included in the Future Festival Tools.
*We make efforts to stay updated with sustainability issues and to invest in our team through educational opportunities; in recent years GG team members have undertaken A Greener Festival assessor training, participated in Looby McNamara's Cultural Emergence course, taken the Carbon EQ and Sustainability Sidekicks (behaviour change) trainings and trialled the Future Festival Tools.
*The Green Gathering charity has a mission to reach out beyond the annual festival and bring the wealth of expertise in our community to a wider audience and has provided advice on how to set up a 'Crock n Rock' service, funded a Radical Youth Space, supported a Celebration of Sustainable Futures event in rural Carmarthenshire, funded a biodiversity assessment of the festival site to help us and the site owners protect and respect local flora and fauna, and is now setting up Regional Partner sites to spread the Green Gathering message far and wide.
*Involvement with the festival has inspired contributors to make practical changes in other parts of their lives, for example by creating sustainability policies and training programmes, ditching plastic bottles, switching to solar energy at home, even giving up well paid but unethical jobs to start renewable energy businesses.
*Social justice, accessibility and inclusion are recognised as crucial issues for a liveable future - sustainability doesn't stop with environmental factors. To this end we joined the Keychange Pledge to reach gender balance on our music stages by 2022 - which was achieved - and we are now rolling this out to other areas at the festival. We extend our Assisted Access services every year (wheelchair accessible sauna and shuttle buggy new for 2024). We have an autism-friendly 'Serenpod' and new for 2024 a safe, sacred space by and for people of colour - The Crow's Nest.
*We network with other organisations to promote ethical messages, eg the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) Safer Spaces charter; attending and contributing to events such as the Green Events and Innovations conference; signing up to the Festival Vision 2025 pledge, to Take A Stand for peace and inclusion with Yourope and to Music Declares Emergency.
*In late 2022 we invested in a new website and design to increase the reach of our messaging - for ticket sales, and also to attract attention from new audiences and the event industry, so we can make a bigger difference.
*In 2023-24:
- We're undertaking a research project in partnership with A Greener Future, to gather data about social impact and behaviour changes brought about as a result of attending Green Gatherings, with a view to escalating positive change through the medium of festival.
- We're working with A Greener Future on an enhanced carbon analysis of the festival, and intend to compare the carbon footprint of a festival attendee with that of someone staying home.
- GG coordinators have taken part in race education and accessibility awareness training sessions, to further embed diversity and inclusion at the core of the festival's organisation.
- We are sharing our knowledge and resources more effectively, creating a new section on our website to facilitate this:
www.greengathering.org.uk/resources
- We are upskilling our team and bringing on new and younger team members to ensure our festival is resilient and in good shape to keep growing and improving internally while effectively spreading our message to the world.

other

Policy:
To act ethically and sustainably in all we do.

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*We bank with Unity Trust Bank (which promotes a socially responsible and sustainable approach to banking).
*We switched to Zoom for remote meetings to avoid Microsoft (Ethical Consumer 2020 rated Zoom as better).
*We have never paid for Facebook ads due to ethical concerns.
*We have largely dissociated from Twitter (X) due to ethical concerns.
*Our t-shirts are organic, fairtrade cotton printed with plant-based ink.
*We leave the site in a better condition than we found it and have been praised by local residents for our respect for the land.
*We have undertaken a tree planting project on our festival site.
*We liaise with Gwent Wildlife Trust, which manages the local woodland, to contribute to the maintainance and protection of local biodiversity.
*Our website domain and email are powered by renewable energy via our hosts Green ISP, an Ethical Consumer ‘Top Choice’ company.
*We aim to inspire by winning awards such as the International Greener Festival Award!

ACHIEVEMENTS & RECOGNITION

*A Greener Festival Award winner at UK Festival Awards 2023.
*A Greener Festival Outstanding Certification 2023.
*International Greener Festival Award winner 2022.
*International Greener Festival Award for Power 2018, 2019 and 2022.
*A Greener Festival Award winner at UK Festival Awards 2022.
*A Greener Festival Outstanding Certification 2022.
*Shortlisted for the National Outdoor Event Association Sustainability Award 2022.
*Arts Council Cultural Recovery Fund grants 2020-22.
*Clwstwr (creative R&D) funding 2020.
*Welsh Enterprise Awards Best Family Friendly Festival 2019.
*A Greener Festival Award winner at UK Festival Awards 2019.
*A Greener Festival Outstanding Award 2017, 2018 & 2019.
*Shortlisted for European Green Operations Award 2018.
*Welsh Major Events Unit grant funding 2018.
*A Greener Festival award winner at UK Festival Awards 2017.

PRIORITY AREAS TO IMPROVE UPON BEYOND 2023

*Reduce fuel miles further – customer, crew, traders and artists.
*Further improve waste reduction, reuse and recycling.
*Continue research into onsite water saving, including recycling of grey water.
*Continue to monitor and improve protection of local biodiversity.
*Continue work to improve access, diversity and inclusion.
*Better promote what we do across public platforms and within the events industry, with a view to providing encouragement, inspiration and knowledge to others seeking sustainable pathways.

BARRIERS TO IMPROVEMENT

*Customer and crew habits/expectations.
*Financial costs.
*Lack of available or affordable quality infrastructure.
*Rented site with limited access throughout the year and minimal permission for permanent infrastructure or projects.
*Capacity of team.
*Challenge of reaching new audiences.
*Struggle for recognition and amplification (eg within mainstream media).

SOLUTIONS:
ONGOING WORK TO MAKE IMPROVEMENTS AND OVERCOME BARRIERS

*Continue to build on current financial sustainability through careful budgeting, good marketing, provision of a great event and research ethical funding opportunities.
*Prioritise environmental sustainability when budgeting.
*Encourage the Green Gathering charity trustees to raise funds and invest in sustainability solutions for the festival.
*Continue to expand Crock n Rock service, Bring Your Own Mug and other waste reduction schemes.
*Continue to incentivise and make it easier for people to choose car-sharing, public transport, cycling and walking.
*Prioritise crew, traders and artists who don’t need to make long vehicle journeys.
*Continue to discuss issues and improvements with infrastructure providers.
*Continue to improve monitoring and recording of what we do.
*Continue to reach out to the local community and build on connections already made eg with Gwent Wildlife Trust.
*Continue putting more energy into promoting and sharing what we do.
*Continue to collaborate with like-minded organisations.
*Continue to engage positively with marginalised communities to improve access, inclusion and diversity.
*Continue to engage more crew and volunteers to increase capacity to do this work.