A greener Fête: we talk to the experts

a-greener-Fête ideen

It’s sobering to contemplate the death of the planet as we know it. Sobering to be told by all the experts there are that we are the last generation to be able to stop the rot, turn things around, and leave a good planet for Keith Richards to live on.

And with this spirit in mind, its refreshing to see leaders in various industries actually doing something. Suddenly the topic has our attention, and industry leaders are tabling very reasonable-sounding ideas on how we can produce, consume and live sustainably.

And so too in the event branch. After all until very recently the ends of festivals were generally scenes of mayhem, with empty plastic beer glasses being the main culprit and generic food wrapping following hard on their heels.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

And with this end in mind, the FDLM team put together a workshop on the subject, invited all the stage organisers from the Fête 2019 and invited along a few experts to tell us what was what.

Enter Jacob Bilabel and the Green Music Initiative.

Jacob Bilabel has been around for quite some time in the music industry – being a vice president at Universal Music, co-running MySpace Germany back in the day, and plenty else besides. But at some point he realised that there was a more pressing matter to hand and he started up the Green Music Initiative to do his best to reduce wastefulness and promote climate-neutral event organisation.

Use them, wash them and take them home again.

There are a bunch of  the more obvious things that we can, could and should be doing at any music event, especially larger, open-air ones: from having people pay a deposit on their beer beakers/glasses so that they’re brought back and can then be washed and reused; to placing rubbish bins appropriately, with options for plastic, paper and normal rubbish separation; to reducing food wrapping etc; not using those little plastic forklets that you get with your portion of chips; and so on.

But it’s not only about all that. It’s also about a mindset. Simply approaching all aspects of event organisation with this idea in mind – as Friedrich Bode from the Initiative pointed out. He talked about his upcoming (smaller) festival where they’ve told everyone to bring their own cutlery, plates, you name it. Use them, wash them and take them home again. They have a small contingent of paper plates but they’re just for an emergency.

The UK music industry produced 540,000 tons of CO2 in one year – the same as 180,000 cars.

This is a serious issue, and the size of the problem can be imagined from this: a study was undertaken by the University of Oxford in 2007 where they found that the music industry produce 540,000 tons of CO2 in one year. This is the same as a city of 54,000 people – or the entire CO2 emissions of around 180,000 cars. When you think that the German music/event industry is still bigger than that of the UK, you begin to get an idea of the scale of the issue.

The main speaker of the workshop was Birte Jung, an academic who has carried out an in-depth study of exactly this. Birte has worked in the field of sustainable urban development at the Berlin Institute for Creative Sustainability. For the GRÜNE LIGA Berlin, she has already developed a concept for low-waste street festivals and major events and advised event organisers such as Berlin’s Karneval der Kulturen on waste management. Now, at the GRÜNE LIGA Berlin, she is putting together guidelines for climate-neutral eUvent design. In her recently completed doctoral thesis, she also researched the sustainable use of public open spaces for events.

…locally sourcing wood for stages, using regional food and drink options, running a deposit system for beer glasses/plastic glasses…we see it as a process

As nice as it would be, we know that we can’t make the Fête, with some 180 independently organised stages, 100% green immediately. We see it as a process – and the workshop is a first step on the way to doing our best to make the Fête climate-neutral. It’s about having the mindset, the will, and having this kind of thing in mind.

From locally sourcing wood for stages, using regional food and drink options, running a deposit system for beer glasses/plastic glasses, placing separable rubbish bins in helpful places, and even maybe a sign or two asking people to have an awareness of avoiding one-time-use plastic and packaging options, we know that we can already make a big difference – and continue working towards our goal of making not only the Fête de la Musique but ALL events in Germany climate-neutral.