Compel Irish festivals to be more ecofriendly, says Body & Soul founder

Avril Stanley calls for regulation to ensure organisers take environmental role seriously

Waste opportunity: Avril Stanley wants festival organisers to work together to solve common environmental problems such as abandoned tents. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Waste opportunity: Avril Stanley wants festival organisers to work together to solve common environmental problems such as abandoned tents. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

The founder of Body & Soul music and arts festival has called on the Government to regulate sustainability, recycling and waste management for outdoor events and festivals in Ireland.

Avril Stanley says that existing guidelines are “not enough to ensure organisers are taking their responsibilities seriously” and that introducing regulations and educating organisers on best practice would help fulfil the Government’s national energy-efficiency action plan, which she says overlooks the culture sector.

The number of outdoor events and festivals has increased in recent years. Nearly 3.5 million people attended Ticketmaster-ticketed events in the Republic of Ireland between 2016 and 2017. Although there is no data for the carbon emissions and waste generated by such events, Stanley says action needs to be taken. “It is time we held organisers and producers accountable for their negative sustainable practices,” she says. “We all have our role to play in taking real climate action.”

Stanley, who founded Body & Soul in 2010, adds: “Our aim has always been to leave a positive impact on the music and arts scene while ensuring we minimise the environmental and social impact of the event. Sustainability is at the heart of all our planning, production and programming.”

Avril Stanley: ‘We all have our role to play in taking real climate action.’ Photograph: Tom Honan
Avril Stanley: ‘We all have our role to play in taking real climate action.’ Photograph: Tom Honan

In 2013 Body & Soul introduced an ecofriendly campsite, called Us&You, in which campers promised to leave no trace. Half of festivalgoers will stay at the campsite this year, and by 2021 the festival expects all its camping to follow the format.

The festival has also introduced compostable serverware, LED lighting towers, reusable water bottles and a cup-recycling scheme. This year it aims to eliminate single-use plastics and recycle 70 per cent of all its waste.

Stanley says there is an “opportunity for the events industry to work together to significantly reduce carbon emissions” and to help create a market for alternative energy, transport, water and waste solutions in Ireland.

“The UK and Europe are way ahead of us,” she says. “Regulations would help that, as would support from the Government and agencies. It would be great to get everyone around a table to discuss this.”

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