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 sell 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. If you forget yours or don’t have one, we have some sturdy metal bottles available to buy from the EF Shop on site.
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.
Reusable Glasses & Cups
In 2016 we introduced reusable glasses across all of our bars.
This year, sadly, we are minimising requirements on-site for washing up as a covid precaution and reverting to single-use, compostable cups. This is not ideal, but with our new waste management partnership with Veolia, we are happy in the knowledge that the cups will be properly composted. A supply of our reusable Elderflower Fields cups will be on sale for £1 for you to keep and use all weekend but our bars are unable to wash or refund these so you’ll need to take them home as a souvenir. If you already have one at home please do bring it back to reuse again.
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 of reusable cups for sale, but please try and bring your own camping cup for your morning coffee or nighttime cocoa.
We are working hard to increase the ratio of waste generated at the festival which gets recycled and to reduce the total amount of waste generated. This year we are pleased to be partnering with Veolia to manage waste on site – they will be taking general waste to Newhaven Waste to Energy Plant, where energy goes back into the National Grid and the ash is captured and used as an aggregate. Food waste will go to the Woodlands Site near Lewes and will be turned into enriched soil called Pro-Grow which is distributed into UK garden centres. All the event recycling will go to Hollingdean to the Brighton Materials Recovery Facility Site and sent back into manufacturing.
There is one thing which you can do to help us reduce waste – bring and use less stuff!… Decant food into reusable containers before you arrive. Eat from our food vendors – much easier than huddling around a camp stove, and dare we say it, more delicious too. Generally avoid bringing anything which has excessive packaging.
And please, please, please: don’t bring glass on to site. We do not have the facilities to recycle it and there is a real risk of broken glass injuring children or wildlife.
Travel Carbon Fund
Customer travel to Elderflower Fields has, by far, the biggest impact on the environment. It accounts for somewhere in the region of 80% of our CO2eq. 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.
We are proud to have partnered with Ecolibrium – a live events industry response to the climate crisis. Ecolibrium is a community of events, festivals, suppliers, artists and music companies taking action to reduce travel impacts and invest in climate solutions. A movement directly investing 100% of all donations in generating clean renewable energy. Replacing and balancing the impact of your travel to the festival. To donate simply enter your postcode when you purchase your tickets to work out the impact of your travel.
For more information on this exciting initiative, visit the Ecolibrium website here.
– Other Green Stuff –
Food & Drink
We have banned plastic straws from our bars (you would be amazed at how many of these we used to 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.
We are launching the Elderflower Fields Green Trader Award, to reward and recognise those vendors who trade at the festival who make an exceptional effort to reduce their environmental impact.
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 Ecolibrium 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!
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.
For the last two years we have supported students from the University of Brighton to undertake environmental assessments on the festival as part of their dissertation work. The research which they undertook has helped to shape our planning to reduce our impact. This has been made possible through the support of the Green Growth Platform.