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Are Music Festivals Guilty of Greenwashing.

Andy Robertson

It has become critical for music festival organisations to promote their sustainability and environmentally friendly credentials in order to promote their events and ultimately make ticket sales. This is increasingly important as festival-goers now demand that a music festival they attend has sustainability initiatives in place but is there an element of greenwashing going on?

Implementing environmentally friendly and sustainability initiatives can be incredibly expensive and with music festivals increasingly under the spotlight many organisers have been forced to make changes. This is happening at a time when costs continue to rise and generating ticket sales is challenging. Given the current economic climate organisers may be tempted to ‘greenwash’ or mislead and overstate their eco-friendly credentials to appeal to environmentally conscious festival-goers and improve the event's public image. Despite the public statements a festival organiser may not actually make any significant effort to reduce its environmental impact. What are the common practices employed by festivals that may be involved in greenwashing? 

Superficial Initiatives. 
The provision of on-site recycling bins on a festival site along with signage about waste disposal instructions to festival-goers can look great. However, this needs to be backed up by the use of professional waste disposal suppliers who will actually recycle waste and simply not dump everything into a landfill site. Publicly partnering with well-known environmentally focused charities and organisations can look great but this needs to backed up with action. Using wind and solar power generators can look great but in reality, they can never provide the ‘juice’ required by sizable stage backline equipment and lighting, they still rely heavily on diesel generators to produce the bulk of their power requirements. Stating a carbon offset policy is a particularly vague method of claiming to be environmentally friendly. 

Marketing and PR. 
All efforts by music festivals to be environmentally friendly are usually published in press releases and will appear in marketing material on websites and social media. If their initiatives are superficial the organisers may be guilty of overstating and misleading audiences about their sustainability credentials. 

Music festival organisers like to make post event reports on their sustainability achievements with facts and figures for example. It is generally unknown if there is an element of selective reporting taking place in such reports and areas that still require substantial attention may be conveniently ignored. This lack of transparency is not always immediately visible and can make it very difficult to ascertain exactly what the organisers policies are and whether or not any were implemented or even effective. 

There has been some discussion in the UK media recently amongst the legal community regarding how greenwashing tactics can be investigated and reported on. There is currently no ‘official’ watchdog to ratify sustainability claims so festival-goers should conduct their own due diligence to determine if a music festival’s claims stack up. 

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering. 

Image by Loren Biser via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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