Sustainability Stories

Music festivals and sustainability: An unlikely success story

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012 | Our Philosophy | 1 Comment

This blog post originally appeared on Melba Foggo’s Logica blog

Thousands of people travelling from far and wide (often in gas-guzzling cars) to be entertained by shows requiring vast amounts of energy while generating piles of rubbish in once green fields; on the surface, music festivals hardly appear to be beacons of environmental responsibility – and we haven’t even mentioned the chemical toilets yet.

But, beneath the surface, music festivals are making great efforts to reduce their environmental impact. Leading the way is American festival Rock the Green, which came to our attention through Logica’s Sustainability Stories campaign to highlight innovative sustainable projects. Incredibly, this one-day festival held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin generated just 10 trash cans of rubbish last year, with 92% of waste being either recycled, reused or composted.

Key to the success of the festival was the involvement of local sponsors and partners who recognised the business benefits of putting Milwaukee on the sustainability map. “The community has embraced Rock the Green,” said founder Lindsay Stevens. “Our sponsors and partners have made it clear that showcasing Milwaukee on the national stage as a leader in innovative sustainability practices is a priority.”

Music festivals in the UK have also made great strides in becoming more sustainable, including the big festivals. Glastonbury festival recycled 49% of its waste in 2010 and last year they launched the Green Traveller package, which granted access to perks such as solar showers to those who made the journey to the festival by public transport rather than car.

It’s not just the obvious candidates like Glastonbury (which has long had a close relationship with Greenpeace), either. A Greener Festival Awards was set up in 2007 to help music festivals around the world become more sustainable. Last year 47 festivals were given the award, with 12 achieving ‘Outstanding’ status. One of those was the Isle of Wight Festival, whose green initiatives go above and beyond the usual advice to refill water bottles and clean up mess from the campsite. Recycling is incentivised by offering eco-friendly freebies in exchange for cans, cycling is promoted through organized bike rides and the Let It Bee campaign highlights the dwindling bee population.

The key aspect of these initiatives at the Isle of Wight Festival is that they go above and beyond simply cutting the festival’s carbon footprint. Instead, they use the captive audience that a music festival creates to influence people’s behaviour beyond the festival’s fields. Rock the Green also took this approach, with a number of interactive areas around the festival site that aimed to educate and enable the audience to be greener in their day-to-day lives.

Of course, festivals could go even further. As welcome as a shower at Glastonbury might be, no doubt take up of the Green Traveller scheme would be higher if the incentive was a half-price ticket instead. More could also be done to involve the musicians in carrying these messages. They are, after all, undoubtedly the people best placed to influence the audience at a festival. Global Cool has produced video interviews featuring over 100 bands talking about green lifestyle choices. These videos gave the green lifestyle messages that festivals want to promote – notably public transport use – a much bigger platform and also amplified them beyond the confines of the festival’s fields via the web.

Are musicians really credible as green messengers? Many of them are working just as hard as festivals to be sustainable and, again, it’s not just the obvious candidates like Radiohead (who have stopped playing large music festivals that don’t have adequate public transport infrastructure in place). Julie’s Bicycle, another UK organisation working to make music festivals and the creative industries as a whole more sustainable, have helped a number of high-profile artists practice what they preach when it comes to sustainability. Their Industry Green (IG) certification has appeared on CD releases by Jack Johnson, Kate Nash, Robbie Williams and many more, ensuring that the environmental impact has been kept to a minimum.

As we approach festival season once more we look forward to seeing festivals following in Rock the Green’s footsteps and taking even bolder steps toward promoting and enabling sustainability.

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How to make sustainability desirable

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 | Our Philosophy | No Comments

This blog post originally appeared on Melba Foggo’s Logica blog

With the Sustainability Stories campaign currently in full swing, now is an apt time to be writing our first guest blog for Logica.

Global Cool has worked closely with Logica over the last couple of years. In late 2011 and early 2012 they helped us redefine our business strategy and develop the B2B content services that are now helping to fund our main consumer-facing work. Melba Foggo, Logica’s International Practice Leader for Sustainability Services, is also Treasurer and a Trustee of Global Cool Foundation, which runs the Global Cool campaign.

So, Global Cool has certainly benefited from the expertise Logica is offering as the prize for the Sustainability Stories competition. We are also an example of the kind of innovation that Sustainability Stories is championing.

Global Cool has pioneered a unique approach to tackling climate change. Launched in 2007 with backing from Tony Blair, Prince Charles and celebrities such as Leonardo Di Caprio, Sienna Miller, Josh Hartnett and many more, our mission is to reach people traditionally turned off by climate change campaigns. Over the last five years we have worked with Vodafone, London Fashion Week, Britain’s Next Top Model Live, London Fashion and a host of music festivals to promote sustainable living to the mainstream.

Over the last 30 years the green movement has done a great job of mobilising people who have an intrinsic desire to ‘do their bit’, but it has largely failed to engage people whose values and priorities lie elsewhere. Global Cool was created to fix that problem. We target society’s trendsetters, who are at the tipping point of normalising behaviours and attitudes. Without buy-in from the mainstream it will be impossible to generate the social, economic and political will needed to combat climate change.

The Global Cool team has its roots in mainstream mass media, so we understand how to communicate with trendsetters. We have also done extensive research with market segmentation experts Cultural Dynamics to understand how trendsetters think. We know that they don’t like being told what to do and are turned off by scare tactics or apocalyptic visions of impending disaster. Perhaps most surprisingly for those who find themselves compelled to fight climate change, we also know trendsetters do not respond to rational, science-based arguments. Sorry, Al Gore, but all the graphs and data in the world are not going to make any difference. Nor are they are relevant; most trendsetters already believe in climate change, they just don’t feel empowered or motivated to do anything about it. Climate change does not have an awareness problem, but its solutions do have a marketing one.

Global Cool is solving that marketing problem by inspiring people into action rather than scaring them. We focus on specific, day-to-day behaviours that people can easily adopt rather than visions of melting ice caps that feel like a million miles from the real world to most people. Behaviours we promote include turning down home heating, flight-free holidays, cycling and public transport (an area that Logica has worked in with its work in Helsinki ). We highlight the benefits of these green behaviours and connect them to things trendsetters do care about, such as fashion, music, travel adventures and lifestyle trends.

Our Turn Up The Style, Turn Down The Heat campaign encourages people to wear on-trend knitwear around the home so they can turn down their heating and use less energy. By centring the campaign on fashion we make green behaviours fun and positive which in turn makes them desirable to people who are unlikely to turn down their heating because they think it will save a polar bear.

More than 211,000 people visited our lifestlye website last year and our research shows that 80% of our audience can be identified as trendsetters – or what Cultural Dynamics define as ‘Now People’ in their values modes theory. We have also shown that we can get people to change their behaviour, with a 50% increase in the number of people willing to Turn Up The Style, Turn Down The Heat before and after the campaign.

As well as making sustainability cool, we also believe in making it easy, and that’s why we were delighted to see Logica supporting sustainable projects that are empowering people to make a real difference. Sustainability Stories is giving a voice to innovative sustainability and showing that a sustainable future can enrich all of our lives through positive change.

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We run Global Cool, the only online magazine in the UK truly inspiring the mainstream to live greener

We create content about music, fashion, celebrity and lifestyle trends. We use this content to inspire people normally turned off by climate change to lead greener lives. We reached more than 200,000 people in 2011 and we don't preach to the converted. In fact, 93% of our audience say we are the only green organisation they engage with.

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