Volunteering in our Green Festival City

By Catriona Patterson, Environmental Sustainability Officer, Festivals Edinburgh 

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The Edinburgh Festivals have big ambitions to increase their environmental sustainability, and our Festival City Volunteers are a key part of how we can reach our goal of being a world leading green festival city. 



Edinburgh as a Green City

Edinburgh is one of the greenest cities in the UK when it comes to green space - over 49% is covered in parks and woodlands. Built on a dormant volcano, surrounded by 7 hills, and bordered by the chilly Firth of Forth, it is a unique physical setting for our festivals, and one which helps make it so magical!

View of Edinburgh Castle with Princes Street Gardens in foreground (credit Marketing Edinburgh)

But with the challenges that climate change will bring - both to Scotland and to our international world - we all have a responsibility to reduce the impact we have on our environment. This can be through what we buy and throw away, how we travel, and how we use the energy we need to go about our daily lives. Without everyone taking action, we're likely to see much warmer, wetter and wilder weather, causing problems that make our lives more difficult. 

We're working behind-the-scenes to make the shows and work of the festivals as sustainable as possible, and finding ways to encourage everyone who enjoys participating and attending them to be green in our city! Each of the 11 Edinburgh Festivals are committed to reducing their environmental impact through a shared joint-festivals Environmental Policy, and though their own indivudual action plans - covering everything from waste reduction, to energy-efficient stage lighting, to electronic ticketing innovations!

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Going Green with our Volunteers

We're working with our Festival City Volunteers to try and make their time as volunteers as sustainable as possible, and to help them to encourage and support visitors to enjoy Edinburgh in an environmentally-friendly way!

Some of the ideas and tips volunteers will be sharing:

  • How to get around Edinburgh in a low-carbon way. First-time visitors to Edinburgh often don't know what to expect when it comes to the size of the city, and how easy it is to get about. Volunteers will be recommending public transport options which beat the traffic and which produce less pollution. They'll also be able to suggest good walking routes. 
  • Where to find public recycling facilities. Being away from home can often make it difficult to know how to keep up good green behaviours, like recycling! Luckily, Edinburgh has some great public recyling - including sorting stations in the Grassmarket, and special 'silo bins' in Princes Street Gardens which help keep the city clean and reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill waste.
  • Where to enjoy green spaces in Edinburgh. Between shows, talks or exhibitions it can be nice to take a breather in some of Edinburgh's green spaces - many of which double as venues for our festivals! Calton Hill, Charlotte Square Gardens and the Johnstone Terrace Wildlife Garden are all beautiful spots in the centre of the city. 
  • Why Edinburgh is trying to be a Green Festival City. When you think of the Edinburgh Festivals, the connection between them and climate change or our natural environmental might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But our festivals have always tackled the biggest societal issues of the day, and it's an important part of our responsbility to ourselves and our planet!

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Making Edinburgh's Festivals Greener

Want to find out more about the different ways Edinburgh's Festivals are trying to increase their environmental sustainability? Take a look at our 8 Green Things about Edinburgh's Festivals or get in touch with our friends at Creative Carbon Scotland, who work on environmental sustainability across all art forms and festivals in the country! 

Want to ask a question? Email Catriona on catriona.patterson@festivalsedinburgh.com

  • Scottish Government
  • City of Edinburgh Council
  • Creative Scotland
  • Event Scotland
  • Scottish Enterprise
  • British Council Scotland
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