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Q&A: Clever Green Festival — A clean and green festival

Later this year the annual Clever Green festival will launch in Brighton.

This event aims to show the way forward to other festivals by introducing a raft of environmental measures to provide a blueprint to run as clean and green a festival as possible. We spoke to event founder Jo Child about what they have in store...

What do you see as some of the environmental problems associated with festivals?

Over three million people attend UK festivals each year and between them generate a staggering 23,500 tonnes of waste, equating to 2.8kg of waste per person, per day. Research suggests just 32% of this waste is recycled with the other 68 per cent heading straight to landfill sites.

Add to that the UK’s commitment to be plastic free by 2042 and there is mounting pressure for festivals to find sustainable solutions to waste and recycling.

Then there are other factors to consider such as energy sources and transportation, all in festivals can be a very environmentally damaging business.

How does this festival aim to be an exemplar to other festivals?

We aim to be as close to zero waste as we can get with no single-use plastic on site. We have an extensive management plan created and executed by The Greener Than Green Project, an organisation committed to separating festival waste and recycling as much as possible.

We are looking into how we will provide power for the event with options such as vegetable oil, solar panels and bike-powered generators.

In addition to what we implement for the festival to be run in as green and efficient way as possible, we are also committed to educational workshops, talks and demonstrations, so that our attendees learn new practices, leaving our festival feeling inspired to live a much more sustainable lifestyle.

We are fully transparent in everything that we do. After the event, we’ll share a full event debrief via our website so that other festivals will be able to learn from what we’re doing.  It is our hope to continue learning and developing so that we can pass on our learnings via talks and workshops.

Why did you decide to organise this festival? 

In 2014 I held my first large scale clothes swapping event in a church in Hove. The buzz of the event and the audience it attracted really struck me. Everything that I truly cared about seemed wrapped up in this one event! We had many stallholders there too and there was a real community feel, with people not only swapping clothes and shoes but also bartering with their goods. 
I’m very passionate about preventing waste and upcycling first and foremost, but then this led to the journey I’m on now of learning as much as I can about all environmental subjects, from plastic pollution to climate breakdown. 
In February 2018, I totally re-branded my business to focus just on green business events and green business membership. I’m building a network of like-minded businesses for collaborations and skill sharing, events and from August I’ll be launching a calendar of workshops and tours.

What sort of things will be going on at the festival?

We have live music on the main stage as well as an acoustic tent. All of our stall holders have adhered to our CleverGreen Code of practice, to ensure that they share our ethics. We have CleverGreen Well-being with a schedule of classes from meditation to yoga. CleverGreen Talks is where our guest speakers will deliver a wide range of inspiring talks covering many different topics, we are excited about welcoming Ethical Consumer to speak at this event of course!

CleverGreen Kids will be our area for inspiring our younger audience with exciting workshops from spin art to junk modelling and felt classes. Finally, we are hoping to set a record for the largest clothes swapping arena in Brighton!

What are the role of your partners in implementing the festival?

The design team at the University of Brighton, led by Cate Grundy, are creating an incredible live installation of a coral reef with information about plastic in our oceans, that will be an attraction for kids to enjoy at the festival.
Brighton Peace and Environment Centre are co-ordinating local charities, and we have assisting management of different areas of the festival from other local businesses.
The CleverGreen Well-being area is sponsored by Magic Pixies Eco Cleaning Company and CleverGreen Talks, our guest speaker tent, is sponsored by SuperLooper. Our festival merchandise will be available for purchase in our local zero waste shop and sponsor, Harriets of Hove.

Our festival is for the people, by the people, run by volunteers and totally community funded. 

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