Sustainability Matters

Sustainability Timber festival

Hmmm, we want to run an event that celebrates woodlands and the benefits they bring us, including their contribution to reducing climate change impacts, and yet the very nature of the event, the travel and power requirements involved in bringing people together will have a negative impact… Hopefully this week’s blog will help to explain how we marry our sustainability ambitions and what we’re doing to mitigate the potential negative impacts we have on the environment. We really love Feanedock where Timber will be held and we want to ensure we protect it as best we can from the impact of thousands of people over the weekend.

We are taking a fairly holistic approach to sustainability and the whole team is involved in the conversation as it impacts on programming, marketing, production, design and logistics.

Here are some of our principle areas of focus:

  • What we do with the logistics on site to mitigate the impact eg. power, waste, transport, water.
  • How we address sustainability artistically through the performances and arts we programme. Are they provocative and do they make people think differently about the environment around them?
  • Recognising that the festival doesn’t happen in isolation. What do we do the rest of the year that instils that ethos of sustainability? We work from a woodland, which we are confident makes us happier, healthier and more creative. Our office has compost loos and we have LED lighting in our treehouse. But can we do more to cut down on car journeys and reduce the waste we produce?
  • Communicating with our audience, partners, traders, contractors and artists to ensure we’re all pulling in the same direction.
  • Ensuring we have a positive impact on the local economy, through procuring goods and services locally and encouraging local businesses to be involved but also shining a light on the National Forest so that audiences extend their stay in the local area.

In our first year of Timber we’ll be doing a lot of monitoring, measuring and evaluating so that we can work out where best to focus our attention in future and to help us benchmark ourselves against others.

Here’s an example of a waste report from another event we produce, to show the kind of data we’ll be collating and sharing:

Sustainability graph

We are well aware that we can’t make the festival sustainable on our own. We need buy-in from audiences, artists, contractors, etc… and we need to go out there and establish partnerships that will help feed into our aims and ambitions.

To mitigate against travel emissions we’re making a charge for a car park ticket. The income from this will go to the National Forest to support continued forest creation and development. We’re also promoting Go Car Share to encourage people to share their journeys and we’re working in partnership with Arriva to provide a dedicated shuttle bus service to site from Burton train station.

We also recognise that we don’t need to reinvent the wheel – we can build on other people’s knowledge. There are some brilliant examples out there of innovative and exciting work in this area. We take inspiration from people like, Shambala, Boom and Hay Festival.

It’s not always easy to navigate the best environmental solutions. Here are a few of this week’s dilemmas:

  • Should we use hybrid generators even if they’re based a long way from site? Are the transport emissions greater than the emission savings likely to be incurred?
  • Compostable/biodegradable/recyclable serve ware for food traders – is it even going to a waste depot that accepts bio-plastics? If it ends up in landfill because of cross-contamination, is the methane gas it produces more harmful than its non-recyclable alternative?

And here are just a few links to some of the resources we use to help us:

Powerful Thinking – The Show Must Go On Report

ISAN – Environmental Sustainability Toolkit

Energy Revolution – Travel Guide

Hay on Earth

You can read more about our sustainability ambitions and keep up to date with the progress we make on our website here.

By Sarah Bird, Wild Rumpus

Our Woodland Culture blog is supported by Making Local Woods Work, an exciting pilot project working to help support and grow woodland social enterprises across the UK.