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23 October 2023

Sustainability is the Core of Green Man


Fiona Stewart

Managing Director and Festival Owner

Green Man


We’ve always been a green hearted brand, it’s one half of our name after all. Creating an environment where sustainability is an everyday part of our lives is something that we aim for and, by example, support others to follow.

Engagement is always more difficult to achieve when presented as a chore. We achieve it through education, behavioural tweaks, common sense, and through systematic changes to operations. We create opportunities for our teams to engage with environmental issues, so that it shapes the way they operate within their areas. Our dedicated Sustainability Manager ensures we’re running in the most eco-friendly way possible, with our objective to become emblematic of how a thriving rural economy can indeed coexist with nature. And we’re extremely fortunate to have an incredibly receptive audience, who have championed every one of our eco-friendly initiatives too.

Loos are always a festival issue, especially a boutique festival like Green Man where service standards are rightly expected to be high. Getting that right is a challenge and bringing the audience with you on those choices can be too. A huge leap forward in our sustainability goals has been the exchange of traditional portaloos to predominantly compost loos, which don’t require any water, saving hundreds of thousands of litres usually used for flushing. Zero biocide chemicals also means no intensive treatment at sewage farms, and the amount of trucks involved in transportation and sanitation processes are minimised too. Within a few years, the waste generated will then be composted and ready to spread out on local farms, creating a circular loop. We’ve also continued our work with Peequal to provide female squat urinals which produce 98% less C02 than portaloos too.

Power sources are another challenge. All of ours comes from hydrogen, solar or hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) – a fossil-free alternative to diesel, resulting in up to 90% reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions. The solar stage is 100% solar powered and the Omni Tent and Workshop Dome in Einstein’s Garden are powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.

Our subsided travel options have also helped hundreds of thousands of festival-goers arrive by public transport or bike, saving vast amounts of CO2. And, we donate £1 from each car parking ticket sold to Ecolibrium, which helps mitigate the impacts of CO2 emissions by investing in climate solution projects.

Shunning disposable plastic has always been part of our festival too. We were the first to use reusable tower cups across all our bars, meaning festival-goers purchase a cup and keep it for the duration of the festival (swapping it for a clean ones as and when required). That’s saved approximately 4 million disposable cups from creation and away from landfill. We’ve also never had plastic straws on site, only permit certifiable compostable serving ware, and any unwanted camping gear is donated to refugee charities or upcycled into rainwear.

Refusing sponsorship might not sound like an initiative with environmental benefits either, but not having to promote sponsors’ produce gives us the freedom to showcase a whole host of Welsh beers, ciders and tipples produced by local, independent breweries, meaning the carbon footprint of transportation is hugely reduced and small businesses are supported. Our food traders are also required to source fresh Welsh produce, meaning the amount of food and drink required to sustain 25,000 people per day is delivered to site in the most sustainable way possible.

Green Man was also the first festival to have a science engagement area called Einstein’s Garden which is now in its 14th year. Partners involved include leading research organisations such as Cardiff, Swansea, Imperial, Cambridge, Oxford, King’s College, UCL, and many more. This area engages the audience with experts who present different ways of living intrinsic to climate change, new innovations and areas of research, health and wellbeing. Introducing new audiences to new ideas that may stimulate new ways of thinking or lifestyle changes is the objective here and, from feedback, we’re told it does just that.

There are 58 Managers responsible for the many different areas of Green Man, supported by 5000 crew, and there are many sustainable initiatives, both small and large scale, that I could talk about. The choices I’ve made, particularly in refusing sponsorship, may not be the most profitable, quickest or easiest option, but we are in a climate emergency, and I hope Green Man can be a beacon for the ever evolving and new green innovations, and an example of sustainable tourism.

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