Carbon Friendly Rock Concerts

Rock Concerts Are Great Fun

Rock concerts and rock festivals are great fun. Spending a few days lazing around in the countryside, catching up with stories from our fellow rock travellers and watching our favourite bands perform can be pure heaven. But does our enjoyment have a cost to the environment? There is a misunderstanding with many that a few nights lolling around in the dirt with backpacks and sleeping bags is an ideal way to communicate with our natural environment. However, we can be doing as much damage as good.

Firstly, there is the power side of things. Stages, lighting, sound systems and other gizmos need massive amounts of power. Running a four day festival requires more power generation than it does to run five medium sized houses for a year.

On the good side, many festivals are now declaring themselves carbon-neutral, whereby the organisers assess the emissions and invest in forestry projects around the world. It is a good idea, before arranging to visit a festival, to check with the organisers to see if they have an environmental policy. Many of these are available on the festival websites.

Many festival sites now have recycling facilities. Waste segregation skips and even containers for old clothes are common sights around the periphery of many rock events.

But in the main, it is not the organisers of these events that are contributing most to damaging the environment – it is the thousands of rock enthusiasts who take pleasure from singing and dancing to the sounds of their rock heroes who are causing concern.

Don’t Bring What You Don’t Need

‘Don’t bring what you don’t need’ is a message that is now heard a lot from the organisers of music festivals. For example, one of the most common items that are left behind by festival visitors is radios. Why bring a radio to a music event? Hundreds of radios, from large old-fashioned getto-blasters to modern compact MP3 players, find their way into all sorts of unusual places. It is not uncommon to find radios two or three miles down-river from the site of a rock concert.

Discarded wellies are another common left-over. Old clothes can be given to charities or sold at jumble-sales, but it is difficult to know what to do with a hundred pairs of rotten wellies! It does more harm than good to burn them, they can’t be buried because they won’t decompose and no self-respecting jumble sale organiser would want to see wellies that are not fit for purpose on their stalls. The answer is simple. By all means, give your wellies one last outing before you throw them away, but dispose of them sensibly. Take them home, or put them into a proper waste skip or bin. Don’t just leave them behind in the field and certainly don’t throw them into a nearby river or stream.

The message from responsible organisers is very clear – let’s have a ‘no trace policy’. In other words, take home what you take to the event unless it is rubbish that can be disposed of in proper bins and skips. Don’t take unnecessary items and don’t use the festival as an excuse for discarding your last-bit-of-life clothing.

People forget that animals can suffer serious injury and even death if they pick on clothing items that are left behind. An old shoe lace can look quite attractive to a passing bird, but once swallowed it means almost certain death.

Human Waste

However, it is not only material waste that can pose a problem. Human waste is becoming a major issue. It is now well known that urine can cause considerable damage to aquatic life, disrupting the chemical balance in the water. In fact a concert organiser was fined over £10,000 for allowing temporary toilets to overflow into a nearby river, killing many fish. Temporary toilets are now very easy to install and most of the responsible event organisers hire several units.

Some event sites even have fenced lanes to direct people to the toilet area. Even if there is a long line of people waiting to use the facilities, it is much better to be patient and wait your turn than it is to deposit gallons of human waste into the river.

Travelling to and from events can be another strain on the local environment. Car sharing is an excellent way of halving your impact as is using local transport. Many festival organisers are now charging an environmental tax for car parking, which is a great way of investing in the future. Again, check the festival website to see if the organisers commit to using parking taxes in a responsible manner.

Rock festivals are great fun and we can all play our part in keeping them that way. Year on year these events bring entertainment to thousands of people. Always follow the country code at music events. Be respectful of other country users, including people and animals and never leave items behind for other to clean up. Let’s make sure that sites left over from one concert welcome us back for future events.