– Sustainability –

At Elderflower Fields and So Sussex, our aim is to get more families outside to experience the beautiful and diverse natural world, so it’s incredibly important to us that we try to minimise any potential negative impact our activities and events have on the environment. Each year at Elderflower Fields we aim to make improvements in the sustainability of our festival and this page is intended to give you an overview of what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and how we hope to improve.

Bring a Bottle

None of our vendors or bars will be selling disposable plastic bottled water. We are lucky enough to have access to clean, safe mains drinking water at Pippingford, so it seems crazy for the festival to generate such a huge amount of plastic waste from water bottles. We are asking all festival goers and crew to bring their own re-usable water bottles, or if you prefer, to buy an Elderflower Fields aluminium water bottle.

Free drinking water will be available at all bars and we are installing more taps across the site to make it easier for you to refill.

You can buy our limited edition aluminium water bottles in the Elderflower Fields Festival Shop to collect at the festival.

Reusable Glasses & Cups

In 2016 we introduced reusable glasses and now all drinks purchased in our bars will be poured into reusable plastic glasses.

You’ll be asked for a £1 deposit when you buy your first drink. This is to encourage you to return your glasses to ensure they can be reused. When you bring your glass back, you can either get a new drink, or your deposit back.

We estimate that in just one year, this saves over 20,000 disposable glasses going into the bins!

Our hot drinks vendors charge a cup levy on any disposable coffee cups they serve drinks in so you can save money on your cuppa when you bring your own. Our festival general store and Outdoor Clothing Shop will stock a limited number but please try and bring your own camping cup for your morning coffee or nighttime cocoa.

Festival Waste

Ever wondered what happens after you drop your rubbish into one of the festival bins?

We no longer have separate bins for different types of recycling – instead, all waste goes into one bin type. This is collected over the course of the festival by our waste team, who move the bins once they’re full up to a big container which we keep in a back of house area. After the festival, this is taken to a Materials Recovery Facility where materials which can be recycled are separated out. They estimate that around 85% of our waste will get recycled this way. The remaining, non-recyclable, materials are then finely shredded and screened to remove any additional metals before being burned, in a fully automated and closely monitored process, to generate super-heated steam which drives high-pressure turbines which, in turn, drive a generator to produce up to 5 megawatts of green electricity.

We are continually looking for ways to reduce the amount of waste produced at the festival and to maximise how much is recycled. If you have any ideas or suggestions, we’d love to hear from you!

Travel Carbon Fund

Customer travel to Elderflower Fields has, by far, the biggest impact on the environment. We recognise that most of our customers are families and need to drive to the festival, but we are always looking for ways to lessen the impact that this has. Previously we have signed up to the Energy Revolution – a festival industry collaboration that turns your fossil-fuel travel miles into a direct investment in renewable energy. This year however we are trying a different approach by charing a flat fee for customers who choose to bring more than one car. The money generated from our “Second Vehicle” car park tickets will be invested in sustainability projects. It is as yet, undecided what these projects will be, but it is likely to be either the Energy Revolution, the Ashdown Forest Conservators or both.

– Other Green Stuff –

Food & Drink

We have banned plastic straws from our bars (you would be amazed at how many of these we find around the site, even well after the festival is finished!). We ask all our vendors to minimise packaging and use compostable plates, cutlery and cups. We always try to work with local businesses and encourage them to source their ingredients and products locally, organically and fair-trade.

We’re also working once again with The Real Junk Food Project Brighton, who will be back to save any unwanted food and ingredients from going to waste. Read more about how they’re helping to prevent food waste at the festival and beyond here.


As a family festival, it’s not surprising that most of our customers drive to the festival. The impact of travel to the festival site is pretty much the biggest single generator of carbon emissions for Elderflower Fields. So in addition to the Energy Revolution carbon fund explained above, we also encourage car sharing amongst the crew and try to minimise the distance that our suppliers and equipment travel to get to the festival.


Working with Pippingford estate, we have installed more mains power across the site over the last few years, minimising the amount of diesel powered generators required to run the festival. We also use LED festoon lighting and low energy appliances where possible.


Wherever possible, materials which our activity providers use are sourced sustainably. The Arts Camp for example get lots of their supplies from Cat Fletcher. Card and paper, stuff used to decorate the tent, the large banners that cover the tables and boards that we turn into blackboards are all from her too. This is all stuff that would otherwise go straight to landfill. Cat tirelessly works to redistribute and reuse waste. She is the reuse manager at Brighton and Hove council, founder of Freegle and now 4th on the UK Waste industry Hot 100 list 2017, one place ahead of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall!

What’s Next?

Our primary aim for the future is to more closely measure the impact of our festival to help us plan where we can make the biggest differences in improving our sustainability. To this end, we have taken the Festival Vision 2025 Pledge:

We aim to achieve a 50% reduction in festival-related annual GHG emissions by 2025. As a participating festival, we will put measures in place to achieve this, such as:

  • Reducing waste where possible and aiming for 50% (or more) recycling rates by 2025.
  • Reducing reliance on fossil fuels where possible and aiming to reduce annual diesel consumption by 50% (or more) by 2025.
  • Working with audiences, suppliers and artists to positively influence travel choices and reduce travel-related emissions.
  • Working with the supply chain to improve accountability and the sustainability of food sourcing.
  • Working together as an industry to share experiences (positive and negative) about changes we make, sharing best practice and working toward industry standards where appropriate.
  • Measuring key impacts using credible methods in order to measure progress.
  • Sharing information to enable (anonymous) annual reporting for the industry e.g. working with Powerful Thinking and other closely affiliated organisations such as Julie’s Bicycle and A Greener Festival.



We are excited to announce that we have an Environmental MSc research student from the University of Brighton working with us to undertake a specific piece of research on the environmental impact of our events. We look forward to sharing their findings in due course and implementing their recommendations to help make Elderflower Fields a more sustainable event. This has been made possible through the support of the Green Growth Platform.