Monthly Archives: May 2011


Greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount last year, to the highest carbon output in history, putting hopes of holding global warming to safe levels all but out of reach, according to unpublished estimates from the International Energy Agency.

The shock rise means the goal of preventing a temperature rise of more than  2 degrees Celsius – which scientists say is the threshold for potentially “dangerous climate change” – is likely to be just “a nice Utopia”, according to Fatih Birol chief economist of the IEA. It also shows the most serious global recession for 80 years has had only a minimal effect on emissions, contrary to some predictions.

Last year, a record 30.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere, mainly from burning fossil fuel – a rise of 1.6Gt on 2009, according to estimates from the IEA regarded as the gold standard for emissions data.

“I am very worried. This is the worst news on emissions,” Birol told the Guardian. “It is becoming extremely challenging to remain below  2 degrees. The prospect is getting bleaker. That is what the numbers say.”

More on this frightening news at



14 UK festivals including Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, Lovebox, Isle of Wight, Latitude, T in the Park and others, have been certified through the Julie’s Bicycle Industry Green (IG) scheme, and several of them achieved impressive carbon emission reductions with the support of the scheme in 2010. If your festival wants to join our growing community of IG festivals – all sharing best practice, exploring opportunities for renewable energy supplies, driving down audience travel impacts, and working across the board to reduce their environmental impacts – let us know!

Industry Green is a simple certification scheme specifically tailored to the creative industries that enables festivals to reduce their environmental impacts and demonstrate leadership on climate change action. Following the straightforward guidelines and criteria set out in the Industry Green documentation gives you the knowledge and confidence to make informed decisions that make good sense for your business and for the environment.

The certification scheme is based on four principles of environmental good practice: commitment, measurement, reduction of impacts and disclosure. With carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction at its heart the certification  gathers evidence over a 12 month period covering impacts associated with energy, water, waste and travel alongside company commitment, improvement and communication. Industry Green is an industry-endorsed brand, and the certification is externally assessed by the Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University and verified by an independent Expert Advisory Group.

Successful participants are awarded the IG mark, which enables participants to communicate their achievement to staff, suppliers, consumers and audiences. “IG-ed” companies represent a community of creative industry leaders that are setting the standard for environmentally responsible business practices.

For more information please visit: or contact

The Premises win the Julies Bicycle Green Business Award

The Premises Studio in North London have won the first Julies Bicycle Green Business Award at the Music Week Awards at the Roundhouse in London on the 24th May. The Premises were nomineated alongsid Koko Camden, The Sage Gateshead, Firefly Solar, Wood Festival and the NEC Birmingham. With photovoltaic solar panels on its roof, The Premises main studio is designed to be energy efficient and runs exclusively on solar energy and the Premises have used their innovative scheme to work with artistes such as The Klaxons, Razorlite and Lily Allen to actively promote self generated solar power.  Other winners from the live sector were Concorde2 (Brighton) as Best Venue, SJM Concerts as Best Live Promotions Team and T-in-the-Park won Best Festival.


Go bananas for biofuel! Banana farmers in the West Indies are finding new outlets for their crops – including for biofuels. The crop, which is St Lucia’s second biggest export, are mostly farmed by small growers who find it hard to compete with bigger producers in Latin America. Now they can sell their crop to local producers who turned it into ethanol – and with 1500 tonnes of bananas wasted on this one island each year, which also has to import 90% of its oil.

A new coalition of energy providers and technology giants are working to develop a ‘smart grid’ in the UK – to deal with both varying power generation and variances in power consumption. At the end of the Royal Wedding the UK suffered an enormous power use surge as people went into their kitchens and switched on kettles and ovens, and new forms of power generation such as wind, marine and solar are less predictable than fossil fuel generators – meaning that a smart grid can smooth out supply and demand. As the UK and other countries have to increase the amount of electricity they generate from sustainable sources this will become increasingly important. The smart grid will be able to store power to meet peaks in demand and communicate with households to encourage appliances to be used outside of peak times – communicating with ‘smart meters’ in homes. South Korea is investing over £120 billion on a ‘smart city’ that is expected to run entirely on renewable energy.

Whilst gardens can provide food, relaxation and a habitat for wildlife, and can cool cities, UK gardeners will soon be soaking up 9% of the UK’s water – and as water becomes an increasingly scarce resource scientists are warning that UK gardeners need to rethink their gardening habits, moving away from thirsty plants such as ‘subtropical’ bedding that requires a lot of water, to more drought proof plants such as Mediterranean species and desert species. Leicester University economist Paul Herrington found that in 1961 the average
household used 85 litres of water per person per day – by the mid 1970s this had grown to 121 litres per day, and 1% was used for gardening – now Herrington estimates that we will each use 166 litres per day (7.5% on gardening) and estimate that by 2021 that will be 178 litres and 16 litres (9%) will be used for gardening.

And England and Wales are having their driest spring for 100 years – with extreme dryness in the South and East of England and the West Midlands. The conditions are severely stunting crop growth – with rainfall down 61% against norms.  It is the third driest spring since 1766 with just 74mm of rain falling.

Britain’s hill farmers should be paid to become ‘stewards’ of the countryside according to a new government report on the future of farming. The idea is one of the key findings in the National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) which will be published by DEFRA, the environment and farming department next month, recognising that Britain’s hills, moorlands and mountains are vital for recreation, biodiversity and water supplies. The NEA aims to put a monetary value on ‘services’ provided by our rural environment and ecosystems – and eventually these values would form the basis of an agricultural subsidy system.

Speaking on the first day of the Sustainabilitylive! event at Birmingham, RDC’s head of sustainability, Gary Griffiths said that up to 10,000 jobs could be created in the reuse sector for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) once organisations start adopting the new PAS 141 standard.

The waste sector looks set to be one of the early beneficiaries of the Green Investment Bank (GIB), along with offshore wind and non-domestic energy efficiency. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg revealed that these three areas were “possible early priorities” for the GIB and speaking at the Climate Change Capital in London morning on the 23rd May he also announced that investments would be able to be made from April 2012, and that the Government was looking at the potential for using the GIB to help deliver the first stages of the Green Deal.  Britain will need to spend an estimated £450 million over the next 15 years to meet carbon reduction commitments according to accountants Ernst & Young. The new Green bank will initially have £3 billion per annum to invest, with the expectation that this will attract a further £15 in private investments.  Along with waste, the Bank will focus on renewable power. But Business Secretary Vince Cable left the door open for investment in other areas that could include trains, nuclear power and flood defences.

An electric motorcycle has set a new UK record at the Santa Pod Raceway in Northamptonshire. reports that the bike, designed by Phil Edwards, won the standing start quarter-mile run in the Alternative Energy Racing event with a time of 14.1245 seconds, beating the previous record of 14.99 seconds. The rider, racer Rob Moon, reached speeds of 96.5 mph in the race – another record.

Former England and Manchester United defender Gary Neville has teamed up with a green energy company Ecotricity with the aim to make sport more sustainable and spread the green message. The new initiative ‘Sustainability In Sport’ was unveiled at Old Trafford before Mr Neville’s testimonial game against Italian giants Juventus. All the electricity used during the game was matched by electricity generated by green energy firm Ecotricity’s 52 windmills across the UK, to effectively make it a ‘wind-powered’ game.

A senior policy advisor for Department of Energy and Climate Change in the UK ECC has admitted the road to the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) has been a ‘painful’ one. Speaking at Sustainabilitylive! in Birmingham’s NEC, Hannah Greig of DECC gave an update on the progress of the CRC. Greig admitted the numerous changes to emission cutting system were ‘painful’, but added “It would be worth it in the end.”

China is reportedly looking at cold fusion to provide cheap, clean, limitless and safe power with a Chinese scientist giving a paper on the technology and an up and coming UN conference.  Currently coal provides 70% of China’s power with hydroelectricity contributing 20%. China is also building 26 new nuclear reactors.

Two campaigners against illegal logging in Brazil have been brutally murdered. Jose Claudio Ribeiro (‘Ze’) de Silva and his wife Maria do Espirito Santo were left shot dead and mutilated in the rainforests  they called their home. The couple had been actively campaigning against loggers, blockading roads and stopping lorries and had received death threats.  The Catholic Pastoral Land Commission said that more than 1,150 rural workers, environmentalists, judges and priests had been killed since the death of environmental activist Chico Mendes in 1988, and less than 10% of cases ended up in court.

Former BBC Radio 1 and now Smooth DJ Mark Goodier (weekdays on Smooth, 10.00 – 13,00) says that his eco-car saves him £10,000 per annum. Mark, who also runs radio production company Wise Buddah, drives a Nissan Leaf  and he was the first in the UK to drive the car off a forecourt and estimates that he saves 310,000 every year on fuel, parking and congestion charges. Mark started with elcctric cars in 2000 and says ‘They basically need no servicing  they don’t break down” and the car does 100 miles for a £2 charge which takes six hours overnight – and Mark told the Sunday Times that he uses his home’s solar power to make the process even greener – in fact as Mark says with Feed In Tariffs he is effectively being  ’paid to drive’.

Good Wood

Not so deep in the Oxfordshire countryside under the soaring gaze of the Red Kites is a gem of creativity and sustainability. Wood Festival claims to be the  ‘folkier, younger, cleaner, greener and mysteriously beardier brother’ of Truck Festival. What Wood does achieve is a celebration of music and nature. Four stages showcase music, poetry, discussion and workshops.

The festival is a safe environment for young families. It almost feels like a village fete with packs of new young friends playing on tractor inner tubes, bubbles floating across the arena and the entire morning program tailored for keeping young minds and bodies active.

Wood workshops ranged from traditional skills such as thatching to lessons in nature, music and dancing. I didn’t imagine for one moment that Isla (aged 2) and I would be participating in a harp workshop or witnessing the creation of fantastic whistles made from vegetables. The ladies in compost corner provided gardening and compost advice while my neighbour made his own rolling pin on a pedal powered lathe and his daughter made a beautiful copper bracelet. The greatest thing about all of the workshops and demonstrations was that everyone was welcome to give it a go and be involved.

Powered almost entirely by solar, pedal and wood burners there is no buzz of generators, there is a calm and relaxed feeling around the spotlessly clean site. A contentious and well-informed audience are tidy, considerate and pro-active in helping the waste management team at More-bins minimise waste and strive to exceed its 85% recycled figure from 2010. Local suppliers provide organic, Fairtrade and ethical goods. Inevents (who also produce the bigger Truck Festival)  and Brazier Park collaborate effectively to ensure that the event has a minimal impact to the beautiful estate and surroundings. Permanent compost toilets provide the estate with compost, grey water goes back into the park irrigation system and the park community work tirelessly with the
organisers to provide meals and food for thought around the site. Everyone from
the moment you arrive and greeted by friendly security has a positive attitude
and thankfully this rubbed off on the weather too.

Is Wood a ‘folkier, younger, cleaner, greener and mysteriously beardier
brother’? Definitely!

Review by Helen Wright

and more at


We had a massive number of entries for GREAT BIG GREEN IDEAS 2011 and some really interesting ideas – which we really hope festival organisers will take notice of. There were quite a few ‘threads’ running though the ideas, particularly ideas promoting green travel and ideas reducing waste on festival sites.

a number of entries were very keen on promoting alternatives to the car – in particular we liked Peter Nolan’s idea of giving green travelers real advantages in ditching the car – by allowing them early entry to the festival site and first pick of camping sites and Stephen Nicholls suggested that festival goers that travel to the festival by bicycle get a percentage taken off their ticket. Alan Hughes suggested that ‘combined coach and festival tickets’ should always go on sale before the ‘ordinary’ tickets go on sale so festival goers who want to use coaches get to get their tickets and coach tickets first. Something that we have already suggested to festival organisers – and the suggestion received a very positive response. Thanks Alan, Peter and Stephen.

A number of people also commented on the waste associated with disposable plates and cutlery – even if it is recyclable. Water bottles left lying around festivals were a real worry for lots of the entries including Gemma Watt, and Joel Ross suggested that festival goers should be encouraged to take their own plates up to the food stalls at festivals and as an incentive, they could get money off their meal. We are going to look into the practicality of this (and hygiene issues) with a couple of event organisers and see if this works.

Ben Harris said its “Time to kick some butts” and Ben’s idea is aimed at tackling the lesser known problems of cigarette litter, suggesting purpose made cigarette bins with bright coloured signs stating the facts that butts really do pollute and also giving away small portable ashtrays with programmes and lanyards, along with adverts would make a cheap and easy to implement campaign to reduce this “pain in the butt”! Thanks Ben and we can report that Ashcan already make a portable ashtray and some people use old 35mm film tubs as their own version. See

And Sally Eccleston pointed out that disposable nappies make up a large percentage of domestic landfill waste and that this may be true at certain festivals as well and Sally’s idea is to provide a nappy exchange – and used nappies could be washed on site or taken to local launderettes, ready to be taken on and reused at the next festival, and the next and the next… How many thousands of disposable nappies would this save from landfill? There was an organisation doing this called Blooming Bottoms but we haven’t heard from them recently. Its a great idea – we hope it comes to fruition!

Caroline Stringer suggested recyclable camping chairs (they exist – we have seen some made of card!) and suggested a tent hire scheme at festivals, with a deposit that can be returned once the tent has been returned in a good condition, as well as welly hire at festivals to prevents wellys being dumped, provides option for them to be reused or recycled.

Sarah Needham had a good idea (although one that would take quite some organising). Sarah’s idea is to have “a shop selling items from celebrities at the event e.g. a signed picture or a guitar but the payment method is in plastic bottles for example or another recyclable item” Sarah pointed out that this is a good way to promote recycling and get high profile names to put there backing behind it saying “it will appeal to younger people who are probably less aware of environmental issues and therefore can be a good education tool to them.”

All excellent ideas and it was hard to choose - but now its time to get to the winners

A well thought out solution to the problem with water bottles – and our FIRST PRIZE – goes to Ruth Hardy who said “There should be more standpipes or kiosks for festival goers to reuse their plastic water bottles with fresh drinking water for a minimal charge. Mountains of empty used plastic water bottles last year filled the waste drums (which needed tractors to come and empty them) or were chucked on the ground (which needed clearing up).” And its such a good idea we’re glad to say that Frank Water have teamed up with festival water provider Water Mills to provide a service just like this – see

Also a number of people in including Heather Macdonald and Claire Pascoe commented on the thousands plastic and paper cups, cans and bottles thrown away at festivals and suggested that reusable cups were the future. We agree that either souvenir cups or a deposit system works and Festivals like Cambridge FolkFestival and Latitude already have reusable cups and Sonisphere is one of many festivals who have a deposit system.

Claire suggested the ‘Glastocup’ for Glastonbury that hangs on a lanyard but our SECOND PRIZE goes to Jacinta Elliott who said “As a visitor to the festival I am always astonished at the amount of plastic bottles, glasses and food containers that are left lying around. My idea is to supply everyone with their own pint size plastic cup which can be in funky colours and designs, each cup will have a hole to attach to the lanyard when not in use and every drink sold can be at a reduced rate if “Glasto Goblet” is used. It will be great if the Glasto Goblets could be made from re-cycled plastic. I also think that there should be a drinking water station and these Glasto Goblets can also be used for water station top ups maybe for a small charge to Water Aid. A great idea Jacinta – and a GREAT NAME!

And our THIRD PRIZE goes to Ally who said “Make all festivals“Clothes optional” adding “think how much water would be saved NOT washing all those sweaty clothes, how much pollution it would cut down on by NOT using washing machines, and also how much money it would save people having not to buy extra clothes for festivals”. We love it Ally!

All three prize winners will receive a goodie bag crammed full of festival goodies – CDs, DVDs, T-shirts and other stuff and our friends and the BIG GREEN COACH COMPANY will offer our first and second prize winners, Ruth and Jacinta, a pair of return coach travel tickets to any festival they are sending coaches too in the UK (its a long list but includes Sonisphere, V, Bestival, Hop Farm, End of the Road, Creamfields and Kendal Calling! For more see

Massive thanks to and Big Green Coach, the music travel company, and THANK YOU to everyone who entered. And here’s to your ideas getting festivals greener!

An Independent take on green festivals

There is a  really nice article on the Independent website which looks at what we do and profiles two festivals – the Isle of Wight in the UK and Lightning in a Bottle in the USA – with details of some of their 2011 green innovations. Its well worth a quick read at–green-initiatives-at-summer-festivals-2287987.html