Green Chief Sustainability A 'how to' of recycling and sustainability for events Tue, 20 Oct 2015 13:33:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Green Chief Sustainability 32 32 Earth Frequency Festival 2014 Tue, 15 Apr 2014 06:37:19 +0000 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?

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Now composting your breakfast lunch and dinner!

Rainbow Serpent 2014 Tue, 15 Apr 2014 06:26:22 +0000 One of the most rewarding parts of working within Green Chief is the implementation of the ‘soft’ side of sustainability practice. The creative, left field projects that compliment the ‘hard’ side of rubbish separation, diversion from landfill and long physically demanding hours.

Rainbow Serpent 2014 proved to be a playground for the instigation and fine tuning of a number of creative initiatives. Some were quite practical, such as facilitating a change in infrastructure to remedy a long time problem. Bin stations unlit at night are thought to encourage, or at least not help, instances of littering through the wee hours. Our solution was designing a strip of LED lights, colour coded to match the waste streams and affix them onto our current bin stations. Et voila! Disco bins!

Two larger projects, handled by our new Creative Liaison Steven Kennedy, revolved around communication and bought even more talented people into the Green Chief fold. A massive success was the re-imagining of our roving performer group, swelled to a group of 16 and managed by two passionate and organised individuals Mira Melaluca and Joe Oppenheimer. Having previously tried to manage the operational AND creative sides simultaneously whilst onsite had meant that invariably the creative side took the brunt of lack of resources, time, energy or manpower. Even we haven’t learnt how to be in more than one place at a time! So a shuffle-up of responsibilities and the creation of a couple of new roles within the Green Chief RSF structure helped our vision not only grow but allowed fresh perspective and ideas to be fully expanded. It also meant an exchange of skill sets with Green Chief gaining insight into the mystical world of rehearsals, green room needs and stage management. In short, the OR (Order of Recycling) were born and undertook evangelical style picketing as a welcome to patrons alighting the bus, mormon-style door knockings on campsites which were particularly messy and made 7 appearances across the more popular dancefloors to encourage patrons to pick up litter. If that schedule wasn’t busy enough, they even slipped in a few choral arrangements outside of the composting toilets. See more of The OR here.

Our usual communication methods span email newsletters, websites, posters, stage announcements and on site signage but these methods, although effective for directional information, are static and can often be lost amongst the plethora of alternative information being pushed by the festival organisers. Ergo, a message that would have a deeper impact, perhaps producing a cultural shift, a change in behaviour or even a new social norm had been devised. An amalgamation of funding through the Rainbow Arts Grant and a talented individual know as Phillip Bateman aka Bravo Charlie, was to bring this message to life. A Rainbow sustainability documentary was to be born!

A brief was compiled from a shot list, key messages and key concepts with the open-ended ‘more than 3 minute film’ and further additional inclusions such as interviews, the concept of OR and the Green Chief educational ethos running a thick vein through it. A labour of love ensued with Phillip working diligently to shoot footage and then begin the arduous task of post-production. The result is due to be released to the Rainbow Serpent patrons close to 2015’s ticket on-sale date.

Collaboration, not only with passionate professionals but with Rainbow patrons themselves fuelled a fertile creative year, with at least a couple of long-life, far-reaching fruits. A nod should be given here to the experienced team leaders which allowed the operational side of the sustainability department to run smoothly and cope with a larger than usual crowd. Without their support the seedling creative division could not have flourished as it did. Go team!

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Campsite pilgrimages with The OR

]]> Woodford Folk Festival 2013 Tue, 15 Apr 2014 06:12:16 +0000 This year at Woodford Folk Festival we launched a new project or two while continuing to tweak systems already in place, achieving great results. It was a year for gentle improvement and exploring new ideas. In the combined work of expanding our compost collections and increasing the recycling capacity of our infrastructure (complemented by the wonderful habits of the Woodfordia community) we recorded a 15% decrease in landfill and a 5% increase in comingle recycling.

Our composting operation has grown substantially to include more volume from our audience and is looking to become even bigger in the future. Another pet project also furthered the idea of better allocating infrastructure to capture our recycling and compost, with our glorious intern Luke, from Griffith University tirelessly collecting data on our waste volumes and their origins. With some number crunching and state of the art technology we are now able to decisively say where we can improve, namely in working more closely with food stall holders to separate waste streams, providing more composting and recycling capacity on the streets, and ensuring our infrastructure and systems are scaled appropriately. With logistical constraints in mind it looks like we are up for another year of incremental change in 2014, but we have set some exciting wheels in motion and are looking forward to making Woodford greener by the minute!


Beautiful bamboo tunnel construction

Island Vibe Festival 2013 Tue, 15 Apr 2014 05:57:09 +0000 It’s not often that Green Chief is faced with a complete fail in one of our systems, but 2013’s Island Vibe provided us with one that gave a great opportunity to learn.

2012’s compost pile at the local community Bushcare nursery had contained way too many PLA cups, bowls and plates. As we discovered, these take far longer than a year to decompose in a low maintenance  compost heap. To clarify, low maintenance is a heap that is turned 3 or 4 times annually and in this instance no new materials were to be added. Watering occurred on an ‘as needed’ basis.

The problem occurred three weeks before the festival when limited space dictated that 2012’s compost be used. As it was littered with semi- decomposed cups, these had to be pulled out by hand- an arduous task for an estimated 3000 cups alone! As Bushcare are a group of volunteers who meet just once a week, this was considered to be too much, and although the 7m3 pile had shrunk down to 2.7m3, this all made it’s way to the local landfill. A sad day for all. To make matters seemingly worse, our contact with Bushcare had retired and in her wake introduced a new, inexperienced composter, who wasn’t at all sure this compost arrangement was achievable.

After exploring a few different avenues for organic waste disposal, Green Chief knew we had to make it work. Otherwise landfill would be the fate of our future organics, for years to come. So a plan was devised: No more PLA cups, bowls or plates into the composting stream. And to err on the side of caution, only very limited sugarcane and bamboo products allowed. This bought up another problem. Market stallholders who sell hot or cold drinks currently still do no have a replacement product that is PLA free.We knew that all PLA items would be destined for landfill- yes, they would break down eventually but they would be producing methane, a noxious greenhouse gas. Which meant the message of ‘biodegradable/compostable only’ which is usually relayed to our stallholders had to be changed to ‘plastics only’ to ensure we could at least recycle forks, cups, plates etc. A move that made logistical and systematic sense but ethically, promoting the use of petro-plastics on an island surrounded by sea, just didn’t seem right.

Communication of course was the answer. Explanation to all food stallholders why the new standard compostable PLA products had to be banned. Explanation of a low maintenance composting system to Bushcare, who were very willing and positive. Explanation to patrons why, exactly, their hot and cold drinks were a thorn in the Sustainability departments side. Suffice to say, after a whole lot of talking and a last minute ‘BYO cup’  campaign (backed up with a 50c discount at all drinks bought with a BYO cup) we had a workable solution. And after less than 6 months, we had a perfectly biodegraded compost heap, ready for Bushcare to use and had a set a precedent for reusable cups, rather than single use cups. Truly triumph through failure.

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Carbon Footprint awareness signage

The Planting Weekend 2013 Mon, 08 Jul 2013 09:59:23 +0000 A much smaller gathering than the New Years Eve Woodford celebrations, around 1000 people turned out to maintain the beautiful festival site. As over 100,000 trees have already been planted in previous years, the focus was very much on weeding (over 48 tonnes were removed this year!) and using some of our on-site compost gathered over the previous 2 years to mulch a few new shrubs in the Butterfly Walk. During the day that is. As dusk falls people gathered around fires to talk over larger ideas and listen and dance to a host of folk-inspired musicians. Volunteering our services at this event certainly has its benefits as there was plenty of time to  involve ourselves in the activities (sour dough bread making anyone?) and really soak up the atmosphere and ideology that makes this site and its festivillians unique.

Inspiration has many muses and it’s true to say that nature inspires the ethos behind Green Chief. As the last festival of the 2012/2013 season, time for reflection on the past 6 months was imminent and what better setting than on top of the Woodfordia hill, where the horizon and setting sun provide the backdrop?

Wholehearted thanks to our hundreds of volunteers who turned up to work on time and undertook the less glamorous side of greening with us. A million hugs to crew, old and new, who grew and made our daily tasks a pleasure rather than a chore. And finally to our supporters, the ones who believe that a greener festival is one worth investing in. Thank you all.


Boogie Festival 2013 Mon, 08 Jul 2013 07:05:46 +0000 Boogie is one of those festivals that we hold dear to our heart as the founding members and directors are so intrinsically green they can’t help but incorporate good ideas into the running of their festival. Worm farms have been part of Boogie from the get go and this year an additional farm was created to deal with the larger volumes of cardboard and organics that are slowly being produced year on year. Educating our volunteers became a dream when we anthropomorphised the worms. ‘Think of the worms as vegans-no meat. no dairy. Then think about them slithering about over citrus fruits or onions, their semi-permeable skins would burn’. Most of the volunteers, coming from Melbourne’s’ inner city were delighted that they had gained knowledge enough to make their own worm farms at home. Win!

On stage announcements by DJs really got the message out there that leaving a clean campsite was the only way to go. We backed this up by constructing Recycling Bays where campsite rubbish could be separated without the need to carry or load it into the car and drop it at the exit. These bays were situated next to the campsite toilets, ensuring that everyone knew their location as they’d already had to pass them a few times by the end of the weekend. Then situating volunteer ‘Bin Ninjas’  at these bays ensured they were contaminate free, with most of the sorting done by the audience themselves as they dropped off their bags. Another win!

Maitreya Festival 2013 Mon, 08 Jul 2013 06:21:31 +0000 P1000940Another year, another site. This time we are transported to a north-western part of Victoria, rural and isolated-a perfect place for a party, with its own challenges for recycling as most recycling collections rely on volume and economies of scale for viability. Suffice to say the choice of contractors was limited, so systems had to be devised around the infrastructure two 30 cubic meter skips, bulky and awkward at the best of times. But the hand sorting proved very effective as Maitreya managed to produce more recyclables than ever before, something they should be very proud of.

As luck would have it the very isolation and rural nature worked in our favour as the community surrounding Sea Lake were amazingly supportive, providing tractors to help with the clean up and a local crew to haul bins during the event. In fact the festival was an incredible opportunity for fundraising. Not your usual sports teams or Lions but a more noble objective, to buy a ‘plug’ to enable the dried up lake, surrounded by shady gum trees, to hold water once again.


Earth Frequency Festival 2013 Thu, 23 May 2013 08:42:17 +0000  

Reclaimed bin tops are courtesy of Woodford!

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.

Rainbow Serpent Festival 2013 Thu, 23 May 2013 08:35:44 +0000

Oiga! designs makes backpacks and these drinking bladders out of recycled plastic bags and wine sacks

After rising to the challenge of an unexpected sold out crowd at last year’s Rainbow Serpent Festival in Victoria, we were more than ready to handle the smaller crowd of 2013 with grace and aplomb. Blessed with an amazing crew on the Green Chief team, this Rainbow saw many aspects of our sustainability program finally implemented efficiently and successfully after several years of tinkering and experimentation. The proof was in the pudding – our varied approach, including audience engagement, art, performance, and some kick-ass logistical systems all combined to improve our recycling rate and reduce the clean up workload and costs at the end of the day.

Our traditional bag deposit system came into its own this year, and the campers responded with zest and an outpouring of thanks. We were able to better capture the huge volume of recyclable material from the campsites over the course of the weekend, and overall the cash deposit and return system worked a charm. Our roving performance troupe won over the masses with the engaging story of ‘The Ghosts of Last Years Tarps’, where abandoned camping items begged for proper burial lest they be doomed to haunt the site forever. On top of that we were particularly stoked to be granted stage time to host participatory dance floor clean ups, furthering our one-on-one contact with the audience in a fun and creative format. All up we had 12 slots on stage, and the reception was hugely positive. I’ve personally had many people ask for MORE! Massive thanks goes to the punters for their continued support, persistence and participation in helping keep their temporary home a beautiful place.

We also benefited from the support of the core organising crew and marketing team, helping us secure some stage time and giving us page 3 of the festival booklet, along with their continued support in funding better infrastructure and encouraging our arts and performance approach. The festival has a huge audience, and we need the help of the people at the top to effectively reach the community. This year’s Rainbow was a great example of the impact of having the support of the whole event, of well placed communications in promoting great systems. Hopefully the final facts and figures support the cultural changes that we see first-hand. We know the audience is willing to take part, and it’s only a matter of time before more events see the benefits of investing in creative approaches to waste management.

Woodford Folk Festival NYE 2012 Thu, 23 May 2013 08:17:23 +0000 Returning to the Woodford site each year a smile comes onto my face as I drive past the swathes of Woodfordia bin trucknative trees that I helped plant just nine months ago. The care and attention that the Queensland Folk Federation put into their long term site, slowly turning it into a Parklands is indeed a motivator that fuels Garbology in its duty. This festival is the largest that Green Chief contracts to and the infrastructure and servicing is stepped up by using telehandlers and 3m bulk bins as well as the reliable 240ltr wheelie bins. The sheer size of the entertainment precinct and campgrounds demands respect and a well thought out plan of attack, which is orchestrated by 7 departments and maintained by 2 telehandler drivers all working under the Garbology banner.

IMG_0517For the most part the sun shines and the grounds are spotless and we know that our systems and scheduling is working. And so to the fine-tuning. The biggest balance we need to strike is placing infrastructure such as 3m bins in places where patrons see and use them (food courts, main walkways, by stages) Vs maintaining the integrity of venue facades, food vendor access and on site artworks. It would seem that nobody thinks a bin is pretty, no matter what colour lid sits atop it. Be assured, this is an opinion not only felt by Woodfordians, but by festivals across the land.

And so a dream is born. A bin that is functional, educational and compliments artwork- a balance  between these three integral facets is needed before the perfect bin station is born. A bin too well disguised by pretty stickers results in the public missing the chance to dispose of their rubbish correctly. A bin that is too educational results in confusion. And one that is too functional? Too ugly. Many ideas are thrown around by the 100 strong volunteers and management- dressing the bins in skirts perhaps?  Should each bin become an interactive installation, an art piece in it’s own right? Or could each bin be sponsored and decorated by festivillians? Or how about a binless utopia where no disposable items are allowed on site? The possibilities are endless, the practicable solutions it would seem are few. We’ll keep you updated.