Podcasts & Books

Listen Up, This Musician-Led Podcast Is Shining A Light On A Sustainable Future For Music Festivals

By Kyle Hughes
15th Aug 2019

Lost Paradise | Urban List Sydney

The festival season is around the corner—the Falls and Lost Paradise line-ups have dropped, and Field Day is due to hit us next week.

Whether you’ll be throwing cash at a ticket to soak up the sounds of a couple of your favourite artists, or to enjoy the community vibes and the ambience, or just because you're after a great way to kick back and have fun with your mates, music festivals are a hallmark of summer and (usually) an epic collective experience.

However, it’s no secret that music festivals can leave an absolute tidal wave of rubbish in their wake. 

We’ve all been there. You wake up the morning of day two of the music festival, stretch and walk outside of your tent into the cool morning air, only to be met with an ocean of discarded beer cans, bottles, cigarette butts and plastic wrappers as far as your eyes can see. It’s gross, but it’s one of the harsh consequences of all that unmissable, sensational musical festival fun. But excessive festival waste is manageable—and there are a few heroes out there working on methods to combat the waste problems found at music festivals.

Yours and Owls Festival, a Wollongong-based music festival led by a record label of the same name, is one of a few events focusing on leaving less behind. 

The festival incorporated its "Party with a Purpose" initiative in 2018. The initiative involves using recyclable cups and water bottles, composting all food waste and focusing on eliminating the impact of single-use plastics and landfill that the festival causes on the environment. Yours and Owls have set a target to reduce its landfill waste to 10% or under during its upcoming October 2019 edition, as well as recycle 90% of the waste produced by the festival.

This concept of more mindful parties has also been extended to collectives like Hiccup, a Sydney-based events group that focuses on throwing sustainable, high-impact parties featuring live music and eco-conscious artists.

But as we roll into another season of mammoth summertime music events, a crew of Sydney musicians who reckon a whole lot more needs to be done have dropped a new podcast that aims to grow the conversation on the necessity of providing a sustainable framework for music festivals—as well as shine a light on how easy it is to take action, and how beneficial small actions are in the bigger picture.

Meet The Waste Collective. It’s a podcast that’s been created to dig deeper on the issue of sustainability at music festivals: the science, psychology and ecology behind what needs to happen for festivals to go from low impact, to no impact. It’s co-hosted by music producer Evie Preston, along with musicians Alice Hu, Gamran Green, Rachel Woolley and Dean Balding, and features interviews with a tonne of experts to generate a full picture of the issue.

“We are a group of friends, primarily musicians with a passion for live music and sustainability. We are very aware of how these music events can pose serious ramifications onto the environment,” says Preston. “This was our main driver for why we started The Waste Collective. Our goal is pretty simple and it’s to get people in the music industry into conversation with sustainability experts, scientists and the general public.”

Although currently small (there are just six episodes to sink your teeth into), the podcast tackles the topic of sustainable events in a fresh way that is bound to ignite conversation, change minds and, hopefully, drive real action. 

So far the podcast has hacked the minds of professors, doctors and CEO’s: Berish Bilander, the Co-CEO of Green Music Australia features, as does the founder of Cloud Control and an ecological management expert.

“One way to think about it is you change their behaviour without necessarily changing their mind: if you just make it simpler for me to do the environmental thing, I might do the environmental thing without really changing my mind about the environment,” explains cognitive and environmental psychologist Professor Ben Newell in episode one.  

The podcast has also taken five approaches for their research: the patrons, the festival organisers, scientists, musicians and not-for-profits. For each approach, the podcast investigates the ways in which they are already engaging in the conversation of sustainability. The result shows a disconnect between each group, with each expecting different outcomes and strategies from one another.

Preston believes that opening a conversation to the greater public and giving a platform to those with experience in the field to speak can make a great impact and promote dialogue.

“I think it’s a good cause because a music festival brings so many people together, let’s say over three days, where 20 000 people are in one place,” she says. “So, it’s a good opportunity for the music industry to advocate for sustainability and get the industry on this train moving towards a sustainable future.”

Follow and listen to The Waste Collective right here.

And while you're here, check out six of Sydney's best sustainable restaurants and cafes. 

Image credit: Lost Paradise. 

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