Interview: Redfest goes green
To celebrate Bristol’s year as Green Capital, community arts festival Redfest is going green this weekend in East Bristol. This year the festival has implemented some changes to start their road towards being more green and sustainable. We spoke to Russ Spollin, Redfest Sustainability Manager, to learn more about how the event is changing.
By Elena Martinez
Redfest will be held on 1 August in St George’s Park. This year, aside from enjoying street theatre, music bands, a food market, art installations and plenty more, attendees will also be able to discover Redfest’s sustainability efforts.
Festival organisers are aiming to lower the carbon footprint of the festival, by taking into account their overall energy consumption, how people get to the event, how much waste they produce and then communicate all of these changes to the public.
Russ Spollin, Redfest’s Sustainability Manager since the summer of 2014, explains how he got inspired to make the festival more sustainable.
“I began to implement a Sustainable Event Management system, taking inspiration from international standards, industry experts such as Julies Bicycle, and festivals such as Shambala.
“Events such as Redfest are wonderful celebrations of our community. They provide an opportunity for everyone in the local community to come together to celebrate the best of the area.”
“Redfest sustainability projects aim to support that whilst ensuring we increase our positive and reduce our negative impacts on the environment and our community.”
Promoting renewables and reuse
One of the main areas they are targeting is energy. In 2014, the festival used 252 litres of fuel.
Russ explains that at this year’s festival, they are aiming to reduce their diesel usage by powering two of their stages using solar panels.
Also, having generated more than 1 tonne of waste last year, this Saturday’s festival-goers will have the opportunity to use reusable cups at the bars, thanks to a partnership between Redfest and Green Goblet, a company that specialises on reusable plastic cups for events.
Another important area Redfest is targeting is transport to and from the festival.
“We are aiming to reduce car usage by encouraging people to walk or cycle to the event, with improved cycling facilities available on site for all to use for free.”
In 2014 more than half of the attendees walked to the festival, but the car was still the second chosen mean of transport.
To be able to make some of this changes possible, Redfest is increasing communications with people before and during the event.
“As well as the practical changes we have made to reduce our impact we will also be speaking to people at Redfest on the day to let them know what we are doing, and to find out their opinions on a variety of environmental and community issues.”
Have these changes towards sustainability been easy?
Russ explains that implementing change has neen challenging due to a variety of constraints.
“Change can often be challenging and it is not always possible to make positive progress as much as liked due to a variety of constraints”
“Overcoming these constraints and changing ways of operating to be more sustainable is often very challenging but also the most rewarding part of my role with Redfest” he adds.
“Change is continual process. Redfest is still in the early days of its sustainability project.”
Russ and the Redfest team hope to compare this year’s sustainability performance with the previous year with the aim of continuing to improving and becoming more sustainable year on year.