Since the early years of Woodstock and Glastonbury, music festivals have had a bad reputation for their damage to the environment. Things have changed significantly since the day that Iron Eyes Cody let out his famous tear in the "Keep America Beautiful" ad, however. Today, festival organizers all over the world are focussing their efforts on how to keep events environmentally responsible, and festivalgoers too are thinking about their own footprint.
To help those who want to make an educated choice on which festival to go to this summer, below is a list of the top five most eco-friendly festivals in Europe.
1. Terraforma, Milan
The very foundations of this festival rest on the earth and its atmosphere. Since it began, the event organizers have introduced innovative ideas to help those involved do their part for the planet. As well as ample recycling bins and widely available, free tap water for refilling bottles, the folks at Terraforma have also implemented 100% biodegradable cups and dinnerware, portable ashtrays, and a water waste awareness campaign. Staff use only electric vehicles, campsites are powered with 100% solar energy, and there is a zero-waste construction policy in which all cut offs and waste materials from stage construction become tables, benches, sinks and showers.
Date: TBC (June/July 2020)
Genre: Psychedelic (previous acts include Stine Janvin, Plaid, Felix Machines, Donato Dozzy)
Official website: terraformafestival.com
2. We Love Green, Paris
Another festival well known for their focus on sustainability, the organizers of We Love Green have long been implementing more and more ways to decrease their carbon footprint. In fact, they have even pledged to plant one tree for every ticket sold. They serve 100% traceable, organic and local food on 100% plastic-free, compostable plates made with recycled materials. Water is served in jugs or on tap, and more than 74% of waste found on site is recycled, thanks to the dedicated team who sort it. Last year, more than 14,000 liters of compost was also created.
Among the performances and events happening at We Love Green, the Think Tank lab also hosts regular inspiring workshops. Here, festival-goers can brainstorm and learn from NGO leaders, while discussing the latest and greatest innovations in sustainability.
Date: June 6th-7th, 2020
Genre: Multi-genre (previous acts include Hot Chip, Migos, Young Thug, Lana Del Ray)
Official website: welovegreen.fr
3. Shambala, Northamptonshire
Not to be confused with Shambhala Music Festival in British Columbia Canada, the Shambala team are widely considered pioneers in the way of festival sustainability. Since it started, the carbon footprint of the event has reportedly been reduced by 80%. To achieve all this, they offer incentives for festivalgoers to use bikes or festival-arranged coaches to get to the site.
Shambala also uses 100% renewable energy, they no longer use single-use plastics, and they are meat and fish free. They also have a pretty impressive Recycling Exchange program in which visitors are charged £10 extra at the checkout when buying tickets. This is then refunded – or exchanged for a festival pack filled with goodies – when festival-goers take a bag of recycling to sort at one of the recycling centers.
Date: August 27th-30th, 2020
Genre: Contemporary rock, pop, folk; world music (previous acts include London African Gospel Choir, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and Mark Ronson)
Official website: shambalafestival.org
4. DGTL, Amsterdam
Committed to becoming the world’s first circular festival in 2020, the organisers of DGTL have a whole array of ideas to achieve eco-friendliness. One of the most recent of these is the food supply scheme; they now only serve food created using imperfect waste food that is unwanted by local suppliers. They have also introduced eco-toilets at DGTL which recycle human waste. Liquids are evaporated and returned to the atmosphere, and solid waste is turned into fertilizer. Other innovations include offering festival-goers a portable ashtray that doubles up as a lighter, meat-free food, re-usable cups, and use of only green energy.
5. Secret Solstice, Reykjavik
In 2016, Secret Solstice was heralded as one of the world’s truly carbon-neutral music festivals. The event has managed to obtain this recognition for two reasons. One is the fact that the festival does not require artificial lighting, thanks to Iceland’s midnight sun, and any energy that is used comes from the ground below – it’s 100% geothermal. In addition to the low energy use and responsible energy sourcing, the event's organizers have also implemented an extensive recycling scheme to help minimalize their environmental impact.
Date: June 26th-28th, 2020
Genre: Multi-genre (previous acts include Primal Scream, TLC, Bonnie Tyler)
Official website: secretsolstice.is
The article was produced by Laura Apps on behalf of The DJ Shop, one of the UK’s longest-running DJ equipment retailers.