How Music Festival Organizers Can Clean Up Their Act For Sustainable Fun

Susan Galer and me have written a blog about how music festival organizers can clean up their act for sustainable fun that has been published on Forbes, too.

Music festivals are back this season, providing fun for concert-starved millions, profits for savvy promoters and performers, and the potential to wreak havoc on environmental sustainability efforts. According to the Greener Festival report, which analyzed data from events held in 17 countries, the average festival produces 500 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the weight of three single-story houses. The report found that one festival-goer generated 5kg of CO2 per day. Here are three ways festival organizers and their fans can holistically address the sustainability challenge.

Make festival supply chains more sustainable

Large-scale music festivals like Coachella, Glastonbury, Roskilde, and DGTL Amsterdam are nothing less than temporary small cities, built with complex supply chains involving numerous stakeholders. To make festival supply chains more sustainable, organizers are rethinking how they manage the environmental, social, and economic impacts of events so they can achieve zero emissions and waste. It’s a delicate balance between meeting cost projections, compliance with health and safety and other regulations, and exceeding attendee expectations.

The group behind the DGTL Festival aims to turn that event into the world’s most sustainable music festival with a circular economy strategy that encompasses materials, food, energy, mobility, and water. They’re creating a more sustainable supply chain that includes renewable energy, reusable cups, bottles and tableware, and organic and locally-sourced food. Festival organizers are working with partners and suppliers across the supply chain to share knowledge and help create regenerative projects.

Decrease waste with sustainable tents

Abandoned camping gear, especially tents, comprises a significant share of waste from every major festival. On average, up to 80 percent of visitors leave their tents at festivals in Great Britain; at German festivals, it is estimated at around 30 percent. The trouble is tents are almost impossible to recycle given their complex mix of different materials. The good news is that tent designers have stepped up to produce sustainable options like cardboard. Attendees at some festivals can order a pop-up tent for pick-up onsite and have the option to take it home or sell it back at the end of the event.

Green energy reduces carbon footprint

There’s no question that music festivals are energy-intensive events including on-stage lighting, audio and video production, plus campsite and venue management for staff and concert-goers. Sustainably-savvy festival organizers are building greater efficiencies into energy management to save fuel and the environment. For example, some are calculating more exact power requirements for the whole festival to better predict required energy, and find alternatives to reduce the carbon footprint. Solar energy power is proving to be a more sustainable option in some cases. Another is kinetic energy, where human movement powers stage lighting or the DJ’s mixing equipment.

Festival-goers and artists are also finding ways to track and reduce CO2 emissions while travelling to and from concerts. Using the Coldplay Music of The Spheres World Tour app, fans can select greener travel options when attending shows. Powered by SAP Analytics Cloud, the app also provides the band and its team with greater transparency into the environmental impact of their tour, while strengthening their relationship with fans.

There are many other ways we can make music festivals more ecologically friendly, from policies that incent behaviours like plastic bans and deposits on trash to data-sharing that captures CO2 emissions information across the festival supply chain. With a holistic, thoughtful, and inclusive approach, festivals can become a joyful celebration of both music and a more sustainable planet.

Learn more about how to create a sustainable supply chain.