Monthly Archives: November 2010

Turning the tide?

Radiohead’s Thom Yorke joined a team of climate change campaigners on Brighton beach at the weekend to create a ‘human sculpture’ of the eleventh century English king, Canute, who as legend has it, proved to his nobles that he was not omnipotent by ordering the tide to stop coming in. It didn’t. The human sculpting was part of the 350 Earth campaign, which has instigated a series of large artistic projects around the World ahead, this time ahead of of the United Nations meeting on climate change that begins in Cancun, Mexico, today as part of a bid to convince politicians that more action should be taken to stop climate change now.

You can see the photos of the King Canute sculpture here:

And see some other 350 Earth creations at this URL:

Photo above  by Nick Cordes  (c) 2003  The Televison Company (London) Ltd

35000 reasons to love the coach

Audience travel to music venues is the single biggest contributor to the music industry’s carbon footprint – accounting for a huge 45% of the music industry’s carbon footprint and festivals are a big part of this – with audience travel to out of town sites often contributing over 75% of that event’s greenhouse gas emissions. Coach travel has other environmental benefits: Far fewer natural resources are used in the operation of coaches than other forms of transport, the required infrastructure and associated costs are much smaller and noise pollution is vastly reduced. The Big Green Report is the second annual report reporting the carbon savings made by customers travelling on the Big Green Coach services rather than travelling by car to festivals and events including Sonisphere, Hop Farm, Creamfields, Global Gathering, Pink Pop, Kendal Calling, 2000 Trees, Beach Break Live, Dour Festival, Camp Bestival, V Festival, End of the Road, Wakestock and the Stereophonics at Cardiff Arms Park.

The team behind Big Green Coach deliver a “one-stop-shop’ for festivals’ transport requirements. BGC say that travelling to music events should be an extension of the event and by working with event promoters they look to develop an advantage for public transport users and enhance their experience from simply boarding a coach and travelling to an event, to being the start of a brilliant music event experience. BGC are working hard to increase coach penetration for festivals/events by engaging with attendees well in advance of the event and by constantly working on social networks and talking to festival goers on message boards, BGC can develop new routes, departure points and times requested by the audience to make travelling by coach easier and more accessible.

With 35,000 passengers on Big Green Coach this year the TOTAL PASSENGER MILES TRAVELLED was 2,996,375 miles … Or…120 times around the earth! The AVERAGE (mean) DISTANCE TRAVELLED by festival goers on a return journey was 188 miles; the FURTHEST RETURN JOURNEY was 774 miles (Edinburgh to Sonisphere, Knebworth). The SHORTEST RETURN JOURNEY was 7.4 miles (Tonbridge to Hop Farm Festival).

A fleet of 700 coaches was required to deliver all Big Green Coach customers to and from festivals during 2010. Each full coach takes approximately a quarter mile of traffic congestion from the roads, this means that the Big Green Coach operation removed 175 miles worth of queuing traffic from the roads around festival sites.…or a standing single lane of traffic from London all the way to Barnsley!

There are substantial carbon savings when compared to a car with the average UK car occupancy of just 2.6 people. The TOTAL CARBON SAVING MADE BY CUSTOMERS TRAVELLING BY BIG GREEN COACH RATHER THAN BY CAR TO FESTIVALS IN 2010 was 12,999 KG Co2 based on the average car emission of 33.515* gCO2 per mile and the average coach emission of 8.552* gCO2 per mile (*Defra / Julie’s Bicycle. Jam Packed. Part 1: Audience Travel). This would equate to 64,997,156 Google searches or 928,531 Boiling kettles – and doesn’t include Shuttle Bus and Park & Ride services!

So 13,500 car journeys were removed from the roads of the UK and using the average return journey distance of 188 miles – there have been a further 2.5 million fewer miles of car journeys as a result of BGC coach travel. Hooray!

How green is the music industry?

Another Planet

The Independent reports that most British businesses fail to comply with government guidance on reporting their carbon footprints and a survey of 100 companies said that only a handful came within striking distance with complying with the Defra guidance which means that there may be signifiucant problems for many companies when the rules become mandatory. Whilst 57% of companies reported some disclosure, only 37% made formal disclosure in annual reports and just 9% were reported in accordance with the Defra guidelines. Amongst problems with those reporting was a lack of transparancy aroiund measurement and reporting principles. 88% of companies in the energy, utility and infrastructure sectors reported, 58% in the media, technology and telecomms sector and 45% in the manufacturing sector. Of all repoirting only 8% was assured by a third party.

The Observer reports that UK shopper spend £700 million on illegally harvested wood every year, mostly as paper, furniture and flooring. A survey by the WWF found that 50% of consumers in the UK had no idea that wood for sale in the UK could be from illegal sources and the UK is the forth latgest importer of illegal wood after China, the USA and Japan. Currently schemes like the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) labelling scheme offers some information on sustainable forestry to consumers:  in 2012 the European Commission is due to bring in new rules banning illegally sourced timber although commentators doubt the legislation will be effective. Deforestation is reponsible for 15% of the World’s greenhouse gas emissions. See more at

The great biofuel debate continues with a new report saying that Europe’s guarantee to source 10% of vehicle fuel from renewable sources such as biofuels within the next 10 years will cause a rise in carbon emissions – and that the policy is counterproductive, causing more greenhouse gas emissions than are saved. The report from the Institute of European Environmental Policy concludes that biofuels will produce an extra 56 millions tonnes of CO2 per annum and an area somewhere around the size of Belgium will need to be cultivated. If Europe cannot find the space then the production of first generation biofuel crops such as sugar cane, oliseed rape and palms will shift to Asia and South America, taking land away from food production and potentially causing deforestation. Environmental charitoes have long argued that the European Union needs to re-think its targets.

With Prime Minister David Cameron leading a UK trade mission to China you might woder what our biggets export to China currently is – well, it seems that of the $7.8 billion in exports – up to one quarter is WASTE – sent to China for recycling. whilst we do export plastics ($366 million) and rubber ($106 million) to China, even some of this wll be plastics and rubber for recycling.

UK Supermarkets have abandoned their commitment to halve the number of plastic bags given out to consumers. Currently UK shoppers use SIX BILLION plastic bags a year (thats 100 for each and every one of us) and these take up to 1000 years to degrade and pollute our towns, countryside, rivers and the sea. Some of the big chains (Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury, Co-op, Somerfield, M&S and Waitrose) claimed that they had narrowly missed a target to reduce bags by 50% between 2006 and 2009, although by March 2010 they had achived a laudable 43% reduction compared to 2006. But in May bag use went UP by 23 million bags (or 5%) compared to May 2009 and it seems some customers resent being restricted from taking as many bags as they want,  and now the supermarkets have dropped the commitment.

The Observer reports that new research shows that up to 1 billion people risk  losing their homes to the effects of climate change. Devastating changes to sea levels, rainfall, water supplies, weather systems and crop yields are increasingly likely before the end of the century, scientists will warn in a special report  to be released at the start of climate negotiations in Cancún, Mexico. The report  will reveal that up to a billion people face losing their homes in the next 90 years because of failures to agree curbs on carbon emissions. Up to three billion people could lose access to clean water supplies because global temperatures cannot now be stopped from rising by 4C.

New Julies Bicycle research points to green gains from digital promos

Switching to digital delivery of music promotional releases across the independent music sector would save 1,525 tonnes of CO2 annually – a reduction of 86% – new research conducted by Julie’s Bicycle on behalf of AIM and BPI has revealed.

Detailed research undertaken by industry environmental initiative Julie’s Bicycle estimates that the manufacture, packaging and transport of promo CDs by AIM and BPI indie members total 1,686 tonnes of CO2, equivalent to three times the annual energy, water and waste emissions of a large performance arena.

The research follows the work undertaken by AIM following the “10 BIG IDEAS” session at the anniversary of its 10th AGM in July 2009. Reducing the number of physical CD promos was pinpointed as one of the winning ideas to emerge. 

Working closely with independent labels and three digital solution providers, Soundcloud, Fastrax and FATdrop, Julie’s Bicycle undertook an analysis of the promotional market which showed that in 2009 digital promos accounted for almost a quarter of promotional material delivered, with 9,000 files being distributed digitally compared to 25,000 physical CDs. 

The subsequent evaluation of the value chain from promo production to end-user calculated the carbon footprint of a promotional CD to be 649g CO2 compared to 62g CO2 produced by a digital file, thereby demonstrating the potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to be achieved from a change of distribution model. 

In a bid to embed sustainability across the industry, the report further recommends a shift away from the traditional jewel case to lower carbon packaging and calls on the industry to place a greater emphasis on recycling material no longer suitable for use.

You can download the full report at

Practical advice on water management at Festivals

This is the second report from the excellent GREEN EVENTS GERMANY conference in Bonn (3rd and 4th November) and there were some excellent panels at the conference which was hosted by the RhineKultur Festival, the European festivals organisation YOUROPE and Buckinghamshire New University. Lots of European festivals attended including the Wacken Festival, Melt! and Das Fest (all in Germany) Open Air St Gallen in Switzerland, Roskilde in Denmark , Ilosaarirock in Finland, Welcome to the Future and Pinkpop in the Netherlands and the Glastonbury Festival in the UK. There were also representatives from a number of organisations present including Julies Bicycle from the UK, Germany’s Green Music Initiative and the German federal agency for nature (Bundesamt fur Naturschutz) . I am blogging about two presentations from the ‘production’ seminar, firstly on sustainable power for mobile generators (see the earlier Blog)  and now  on water conservation.

Water! We all know that bottled water is incredibly wasteful – in the resources needed for packaging as well transport to a site – and waste remains after the water in drunk – and many greenfield festivals have to import water in tankers for drinking, washing, showers, toilets and for caterers. This was a really interesting talk from Jans Schonhoff from EventLogistiker ( which gave some simple and key advice on reducing water use on site through simple and effective measures. These included

*  limiting the time duration of water flow in any showers

* Minimising the use of water in WCs

* Using old style waterless urinals

* re-using grey water from showers and other washing to flow through urinals or use to flush toilets (complicated by shampoos and soaps)

* using ‘nipples’ rather than taps for hand washing

* Reducing the use of detergents and chemicals on-site so water can be recycled or resued. Grey water that is full of shampoo cannot really be used to flush and also cannot be dealt with by organic composting methods

* Try and use eco-friendly detergents for washing kitchen utensils and avoid contamination with fats and oils.

*  Avoid other contaminants in waste water

*  A central system for heating water is often very efficient

Jans explained that in Germany there were particular problems as regulations meant that any water that humans used had to be ‘drinking’ quality water for everything on-site – very wasteful. The same seems to apply in the UK.  Jans suggests that a far better systems is to have two ‘pipes’ for water – one for clean drinking water and one for grey water that can be re-used on-site.

Jans also pointed out that transporting water and waste means that there are additional CO2 footprints for your festival!

Useful contacts:

Aqualogistiker (Germany) :

Event Water Solutions (USA):

WaterMills (UK):

Compost toilets: and 

Some friendy bottled waters : and and

The Green Events Germany website can be found at

All the winners at the UK Festival Awards 2010

A host winners were at the UK Festival Awards at the O2 on Thursday Night to pick up their Greener Festival Awards, including team members from Shambala, Wood, Croissant Neuf Summer Party, Hard Rock Calling, Bestival, Camp Bestival, Sonisphere, Splendour, The City of London Festival, our friends from the Hadra Trance Festival in France, Grassroots in Jersey, the Glastonbury Festival, Isle of Wight Festival, Waveform, T-in-the-Park, Big Tent and Standon Calling. The lovely photos are by Sarah Moore and we thank  Roberston Taylor for hosting the drinks reception.

The Croissant Neuf team pick up the UKFA Greener Festival Award


We also made the Award for the overall ‘greenest’ UK festival and, in a hard fought battle, the honour went for the second year to the Croissant Neuf Summer Party

The main winners on the night at the UK Festival Awarsds were

• Best Metropolitan Festival – Gaymers Camden Crawl
• Best Family Festival in association with Showsec – Camp Bestival
• Best Breakthrough Artist in association with Rizla – Mumford & Sons
• Best Dance Event in association with Peppermint Bars – Creamfields
• Feel Good Act of the Summer in association with Be-at TV – Paolo Nutini
• Best New Festival in association with Access All Areas – Vintage At Goodwood
• Headline Performance of the Year in association with Jagermeister – AC/DC at Download Festival
• Virtual Festivals’ Critics Choice* – Biffy Clyro at Glastonbury
• Overseas Festival – Snowbombing
• Anthem of the Summer in association with HMV – Florence & The Machine ‘You’ve Got The Love’
• Line-Up of the Year* in association with XL Video – Rockness
• Promoter of the Year in association with IQ – Glastonbury
• Best Small Festival in association with Doodson Entertainment – Kendal Calling
• Best Medium Festival in association with Smirnoff Flavours – Green Man
• Best Major Festival in association with Tuborg – Bestival
• Lifetime Achievement in association with Music Week – Geoff Ellis, DF Concerts
• Outstanding Contribution to Festival Production in association with TPi – Neil McDonald
• Best Sponsor Activation in association with Brand Republic – Coca Cola
• The Grass Roots Festival Award in association with Robertson Taylor – 2000 Trees
• A Greener Festival Award in association with – Croissant Neuf Summer Party

 And best toilets went to  T In The Park!


Andrew Haworth picks up Hard Rock Calling and Wireless's Greener Festival Awards for 2010