We went to Melbourne’s Off The Grid festival to find out how sustainable is sustainable.
Images: Alan Weedon
This article originally appeared on Noisey Australia.
Music festival-goers will be familiar with the amount of waste, both literal and emotional, that surround them. Let’s face it, if you’re in the middle of a relationship or personal meltdown and pingin’ till the early morning you’re probably not going to remember to reduce, reuse or recycle.
But not all festival attendees are gluttonous fools.
Off The Grid, Melbourne’s first completely solar-powered music festival took place at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art forecourt just before Christmas.
Australia has some of the most saturated festival markets that place an onus on the ticket buyer to be critically reflective on the impact festivals have. So we asked people at Off The Grid whether they thought that festivals like these have legs and if the day got them them thinking about their individual impact on the environment.
Katy & Alice
Katy: Yes, it will work. It’s the responsibility of all festivals to be as environmentally sustainable as possible, especially if they’re going to have any longevity. It would be nice if we could have low-impact festivals as the new standard.
Alice: It can roll with the momentum that’s been trending across advertising. We’re constantly bombarded with things telling us to "go green," so Off The Grid could harness the guilt of that demographic that to progress the viability of festivals like this one in future.
One hundred percent. People need to be smarter with what they’re doing, and the materials used for this festival are accessible—though it’s probably more expensive—but it’s something that people appreciate now, especially the generation below me.
I find it interesting that no other festivals have really taken this idea and rolled with it, considering the sheer amount of "big ideas" and festival "talks" that you see. That hasn’t really galvanised any strong environmental projects in any of our festivals.
And also, the weirdest thing this festival has made me realize is that I brought way too much rubbish to begin with—and now I don’t know what to do with it.
Prior to this I’ve never really thought about my individual impact on the environment through a festival. Festivals contribute a lot of waste, and for the most part, it’d depend on what they’re doing with that—which we’re not really told about. So it’s hard because you get stuck into habits. I know I’ve left stuff around festival grounds before.
So it’s great that it’s the first festival that’s recognised everyone’s role in maintaining sustainability.
I don’t really like bush doofs because I find that people are pretentious. I’d rather be at a festival like this.
Obviously going forward, there’s still a lot more to do. But if they can do this now, just think about what they can do with bigger sponsorship and more people. I find it hard to believe that they’ve made money off of today, but it’s all going to a good cause.
I think it’d be difficult for this festival to survive because it’s so niche. So instead, of creating an entirely new festival, they could tag-team with bigger festivals to provide this completely sustainable stage. And right now this looks really cool, but it’s not really infiltrating the wider music festival market, so you’re preaching to the converted.
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