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From Flower Power to Solar Power

September 23, 2009

The sun’s gone down on another summer rock festival season, during which recollections of the original Woodstock Festival – in this its 40th anniversary year – did the rounds.  No doubt some misty-eyed old timers are reflecting that today’s gatherings aren’t what they used to be.  But even if these events have lost something of their early sparkle, like the music industry itself nothing stands still and perhaps they are setting new standards in terms of entertaining an enormous crowd without leaving a carbon footprint bigger than Elton John’s birthday party bill.  Glastonbury, as befits a festival of its size and profile, takes the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ message to heart, separating all glass, cans, paper and organic waste and, for the first time this year, recycling the waste electrical equipment.  Also new this year, organisers boasted a Solar Generator – a box trailer containing batteries and solar panels.

Glastonbury’s website proudly mentions their fair trade products, and their list of caterers makes it look like a rural version of London’s Borough Market rather than an extended rock concert, but despite the variety of tempting offerings there is no mention of local produce. 

Meanwhile, there’s not a great deal to suggest the Green Man Festival is living up to its name.  Its website advocated car sharing before this year’s shindig in the Brecon Beacons, inviting lift arrangements via their forum.  But can we suppose that, being a folk-oriented event, perhaps most of the acts were acoustic and required no plugging into the power network?

Back to the great Woodstock.  Its ramshackle organisation was part of its charm, so although it coincided with a period of growing ecological awareness we can overlook its accompanying sea of litter.  It seems there was a shortage of food (one nostalgic ex-hippie recalls accepting the offer of some orange segments from some Hare Krishnas) due to the numbers turning up.  Less food means less plastic cutlery and polystyrene containers left behind in the rain-sodden field.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Joss permalink
    September 23, 2009 3:40 pm

    Festivals are certainly becoming greener over the years (at least the ones I’ve been to). I can’t vouch for Green Man but at this year’s End of the Road festival there was local ale (much imbibed). Does that count as local produce? Also a number of food stalls were from the local area, there were recycling facilities everywhere and the bars operated a ‘5p for every plastic ‘glass’ returned’ scheme. This resulted in a steady stream of enterprising kids roaming the festival picking up every container they could, even delving into bins and swiping drinks from adults before they’d even finished the last drop of Sheep Shagger or whatever the ale of the day was.

  2. October 1, 2009 6:47 am

    Generally I do not post on blogs, but I would like to say that this post really forced me to do so, Excellent post!

    • solarukweblog permalink*
      October 20, 2009 10:07 am

      Thank you Tnelson. Your comment arrived in the spam box, which I hadn’t noticed till recently, hence the delay in acknowledging you.

  3. October 1, 2009 9:07 am

    Festivals and most people think of music. But down here on the fringe of Kent in Faversham we have our Hop Festival where we celebrate locally produced beer, in particular from our own local brewery “Shepherd Neame” the oldest brewery in the UK! Lots of local produce right down to the local sausages – from Doddington, cooked and sold by Faversham’s air cadets!

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