8 green things about the Edinburgh Festivals

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Edinburgh's Festivals are more committed than ever to combining the very best in entertainment and art with a genuine dedication towards acting as sustainably and responsibly as possible.

So here are 8 things you might not know about how Edinburgh's Festivals are doing their best to go even greener!

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Working together

Rather than pursuing different approaches towards sustainability, Edinburgh's major festivals work together on a Joint Environmental Policy setting clear and consistent goals for reducing pollution, emissions and waste, sustainably managing resources, raising awareness among staff of their environmental obligations and assisting performers and festival-goers in acting in environmentally sensitive ways.

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Rewarding success

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe offers toolkits to advise venues and participants on how best to range of events at Fringe Central, the festival's participant hub, which encourage artists to consider for the show which best exemplifies sustainable practices both in its own production process and in its environmental message. The award is run by Creative Carbon Scotland and the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts. To assist artists interested in competing for the award, CCS also produces an annual guide to producing Fringe shows in a sustainable and environmentally positive way.

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Start local, go national

Speaking of Creative Carbon Scotland, the now-national agency for sustainability in the arts was originally founded in 2011 as part of the work of Festivals Edinburgh - in fact we still share desk space with them and even some members of staff! Started as an initiative to help Edinburgh's Festivals in their green ambitions, CCS now works with arts organisations across Scotland to help them build and develop their efforts in this area.

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Recycling with a personal twist

The Centre for the Moving Image which runs both the Edinburgh International Film Festival and the Filmhouse cinema, installed recycling bins at the latter to encourage their customers to produce less waste. Nothing too unusual about that, but in this case, the bins were customised with some great cartoons, created by Alex, a member of the cinema's cafe/bar staff. It's those wee personal touches that make all the difference!

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There's an app for that

Conscious of the huge amounts of paper used to promote their events each year, Edinburgh's Festivals are increasingly working towards a paperless future. This includes offering a range of apps and mobile sites to enable festival fans to find out everything they need to know without needing a huge brochure or a bagful of flyers to do so.

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Change through art

Each year, artists at Edinburgh's selection of festivals use their events to explore issues of climate change, sustainability, and humanity's environmental impact. Recent examples of this sort of work include:

  • Bobby Niven's Palm House (above) which took as inspiration the Johnston Terrace Wildlife Garden created in the 19th century by social reformer Patrick Geddes to bring light and nature to Edinburgh's Old Town. Part of Edinburgh Art Festival 2017.
  • Whales, an interactive experience at the 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which invited the audience to take part and become either a whale rescuer or a stranded whale.
  • Exploring the beauty of Scotland's natural landscape, Edinburgh International Festival's presented Staffa (2017) a work for full orchestra and large screens created by filmmaker Gerry Fox and composer Ned Bigham The piece depicted three simultaneous visions of the uninhabited Hebridean island.

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Public Transport

As much as possible, we encourage people travelling to Edinburgh to leave the car at home and use public transport like trains, buses and trams - it's greener and often much easier too.

In August 2017, Edinburgh's Trams ran all-night services on Saturdays to encourage more and more people to leave the car at home (or at least at park and ride facilities on the outskirts of the city).

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Green Arts Initiative

If you want to know which Edinburgh arts organisations are working on environmental sustainability, there's an easy way to find out - just look for the Green Arts Initiative logo. The Green Arts Initiative began in 2013 and was a successor to Festivals Edinburgh's Green Venue Guide.

From 20 member organisations in 2013, the GAI now includes almost 200 members across Scotland - including of course, all of Edinburgh's Festivals!

For more information, about how Edinburgh's Festivals, and arts organisations across the country, are working to improve their environmental performance, please visit our friends over at Creative Carbon Scotland, or contact them at info@creativecarbonscotland.com.

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