Festivals are ideal testing grounds for the circular economy revolution

In this interview, put together by the School of House, I explain how festivals are ideal testing grounds for the circular economy, drawing on our research for festivals like DGTL and Welcome to the Village.

Festivals have become a growing trend in the past decade. There are large and small music festivals for just about every music genre. In the last year, the Netherlands hosted some 865 festivals, with 18.5 million visitors. Most of these festivals have a negative impact on the environment, because where music goes, resources must follow. It is necessary to provide festival attendees with proper facilities; they require energy, sanitation, catering, water, and waste management. Waste, and specifically, litter-covered festival terrains have garnered much media attention in recent years. In the Netherlands, an average festival goer produces up to 2.3 kg of waste per day. Twice the waste an average person generates in their normal daily activities. Considering the number, size, and length of festivals, these numbers are perhaps not that surprising. With the spotlight on festival goers and their trash, it is easy to forget about the waste the festival production itself causes. But also all of the other resources a festival demands.

Metabolic’s definition of a circular economy goes beyond materials and waste. We’ve defined it as a new economic model for addressing human needs and fairly distributing resources without undermining the functioning of the biosphere or crossing any planetary boundaries. What this means is that the system should also be based on renewable energy, be resilient, and structurally support key parameters of planetary health such as biodiversity, health and wellbeing, and culture and society. As a festival, one can make critical choices in the location, accessibility, mobility options, catering, beverages, and power supply to have a positive influence on not only the local environment, but also to avoid embodied impacts on land use, water and CO2 emissions.

Want to know more? See our other festival work with DGTL and Welcome to the Village.