Well, from little things big things grow, and the Earth Frequency Festival leapt forward several paces this year with a massive move to a new site at Ivory’s Rock conference centre, near Ipswich in QLD. The move kept everyone busy, including the sustainability division headed by Madeleine and crewed with some of Green Chief’s finest. While trying to stay afloat with the task of planning our operations for a new site with a very short lead in time, the event’s regular sustainability promotions received less attention than usual. After four years of successfully and relentlessly advertising a Leave No Trace ethos (see previous years entries for this event), the combined effect of an altered demographic and our lesser emphasis on Leave No Trace promotion showed in a staggering 50% increase in all waste left on site compared to last year and the past 3 years (volume per person, evenly distributed across all streams). This massive increase in waste was an even bigger lesson in how important our ‘soft’ tactics of communication, promotion and education are in influencing the environmental outcomes of an event. In an industry where it can be challenging to persuade event organisers to invest in manpower for messaging and audience engagement, this was a powerful example of the true value of these activities, which can often be hard to quantify. Luckily our amazing team handled the influx while hardly breaking a sweat and the new site was a great success on many fronts. Some wins for the waste team included on-site composting and drastically lowered infrastructure costs with the new location, which now allows us to daydream about wonderful sustainability projects into the future – tree planting anyone?
Earth Frequency festival in South East Queensland hit its 9th anniversary in 2013, with Madeleine heading up the waste management for the 2nd year running. The event has a massive personal connection with its audience, with over a third of attendees contributing to the creative program or in other areas of the event.
This year was again a testament to a little communication going a long way, with the simple Leave No Trace message resulting in the total on-site waste volumes per person reducing by one third. This is an extraordinary result. Particularly with foul weather and a site ‘evacuation’ on the last day of the festival, we were impressed to see this did not end up in the usual wet weather ‘dump-and-run’ behaviour. This communication was achieved with the help of pre-event marketing, on site roving performance, signage and some extra reinforcement by the traffic management team.
We also broadened the sustainability program with a carbon offset donation project, the now popular participatory dance floor clean ups, and a little bit of public speaking by Madeleine. Her workshop on changing cultural habits through festival design mechanisms held an intrigued audience, and proved that the community has a keen interest in watching and improving their collective behaviours. Following on from a well-attended festival waste-themed workshop at the Eclipse festival, the Green Chief team has seen that there is a real public demand for information and guidance on the matters of sustainable events issues.
The Earth Frequency community also demonstrated a demand for a carbon offset initiative, with our pilot project raising over $1700 for conservation based carbon credits. Greg Howell of Climate Wave helped to collect donations and audience survey data, as well as ironing out some hurdles in the pilot project. Like all good pilots, we used this opportunity to map what needs to be done for a more effective emissions tracking and carbon offset scheme in the future. The task is not simple, as the key focus should always be on emissions tracking and reduction first, offsetting as a last resort. Nonetheless we were happy that the sometimes contentious subject of carbon offsetting was received positively by the community and by the festival organisers.
Lastly, again massive thanks goes to the amazing team that made it all happen, especially those who remained behind in inclement weather and who put in 200% to keep the recycling happening. I am hugely grateful.
In February Amie and Essie came along to Queensland’s Earth Frequency Festival to work with Mads in her first medium-sized solo project. After a mammoth Woodford and Rainbow Serpent one-two for the Green Chief team, the Earth Frequency gathering was a lovely and relaxed affair with an intimate few thousand attendees and a green-minded culture making a big difference to the overall waste volumes.
In spite of a sceptical landowner, the crowd took heed of our online and on-site ‘Leave No Trace’ messages and reduced the average waste per person by one-third compared to last year. Our colourful ‘Pick it Up Pixies’ did a wonderful job spreading the word among the campsites, complemented by our dear friends the Garbage Grannies who toured the festival with a picnic of tea and scones. Nonetheless, there’s always room for improvement, and the Earth Frequency community spoke out for even more communication on what to do with their waste. It’s reassuring to see our enthusiasm for education matched by the audience- we do need your help to spread the message!