Paris, France: Who doesn’t love a good festival? Boots in the mud, flowers in the hair and, most of the time, great melodies to listen to with a bunch of cool people around. But recently, festivals have been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons – criticized for being highly eco-unfriendly. Modern festivals, for all its let’s love one another vibe, doesn’t show much love for our environment.
Plastic waste from single-use cups and bottles, items left behind by festival-goers (you can’t imagine the number of tents found after the festival at Glastonbury for instance), and last but not least, leftovers from portable restrooms, are just some of the trashy gifts given to Mother Nature.
Back in 2011, a French duo of idealists with a strong love for music decided to launch an entirely eco-friendly festival event. From humble beginnings, the festival’s popularity would soar and attract some of the world’s most renowned artists and 50,000 people to a former royal estate east of Paris for fun, music and reflection. The two-day event is known as We Love Green.
What makes the We Love Green an eco-friendly festival
Founded on very strong environmental principles, We Love Green, uses 100% of renewable energy thanks to the installation of solar panels and recycled oil generators. It also recovers or composts all of its waste.
On site, festival-goes are able to refill their bottles thanks to water fountains; are provided dry toilets and free hybrid-electric shuttle buses to get around. Moreover, the employee’s t-shirts, benches and tables and other decor are made from pre-used materials; favoring recycling of goods and a vote for the circular economy.
Food is almost as important as the music at a festival and it’s here that the festival shines. The 40 restaurants that feed the hungry crowd are asked to offer local, seasonal and organic products with a strong emphasis on vegetarian and vegan food. If something isn’t sold by the end of the day, leftovers are recovered and given to charity to avoid waste. We love Green is not only sustainable, it’s ethical too!
Once fed, festival-goers are given the choice between dancing to their favorite artists (which includes Solange, Justice, A Tribe called Quest, Seu Jorge and Richie Hawtin) or join one of the ongoing discussions at the Think Tank stage. The Think Tank was founded as an ideas lab to encourage open exchange about green innovations and to help raise awareness on environmental issues.
The crowd got the chance to listen to some of the world’s most popular thought leaders, such as Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, inventor of Nomicro credit loans, Bertrand Piccard, the explorer who travelled around the world in a fuel-free solar plane and the Indian activist Vandana Shiva.
A new form of environmental communication
What I find so exhilarating about the We Love Green festival – beyond the vibe and the excellent musical line-up – is that its a fresh way of putting sustainability on the table. Bye bye boring conferences and aggressive marketing campaigns; hello to discussing important issues while having fun and drinking beer from a reusable cup.
And from first-hand experience and keen observation – the festival works to communicate green issues! I noticed a large portion of the We Love Green audience showing up not just for the music but for the other events too. Reports also suggest that the number of festival attendees is increasing each year, reaching 58,000 people over two day event – a 20 percent increase on last year. This, if you ask me, says a lot about the environmental movement and how the issues at stake can be communicated to large audiences.
Plus, it’s all about positivity, collaboration and fun! Participants are definitely willing to put in extra effort to bring back their glasses after using them; recycle their waste in the appropriate bins and practice patience whilst waiting to purchase food because quantities of local food is limited.
Imagine if sustainability education was always this fun, stimulating and collaborative? This is the achievement of the We Love Green festival. It encourages an open mind and a willingness to take part. It makes sustainability cool.
When recycling goes from being an obligation to being cool, you know the organisers have done something right. Let’s just hope that the event brings about lasting change…