#GreenArts at the Edinburgh Festivals

Thursday 14th March marks the second annual #GreenArts Day by Creative Carbon Scotland’s Green Arts Initiative, a day when Scotland’s cultural sector shares stories of what sustainability looks like in the arts.

With Edinburgh’s festivals committed to providng a great experience sustainably and responsibly, and reducing their impact on the environment, what better opportunity to highlight some of the ways everyone involved is working to keep the festivals green?

Storytelling at Dr Neils Garden Credit Colin Hatersley Scottish International Storytelling Festival


Behind the scenes, Edinburgh’s Festivals are all members of the Green Arts Initiative and work hard on a Joint Environmental Policy to address issues of pollution, waste and sustainability. This means you can rest assured that even the bits of the festivals you don’t see are taking care to be green.

Festival offices recycle everything they can and a number print their brochures and posters on recycled paper. At the Art Festival, even staff uniforms are fairly traded and as biodegradable as possible.

YOYP Book festival 975 x 400


The Festivals also partner with host venues across the city on green issues. The International Festival commits to working with its venues on installing water coolers to reduce the use of single-use plastic bottles, while the Film Festival has updated lighting, automatic doors and even hand dryers in order to save energy. 

You can find recycling points in festival venues across the city - the Book Festival even provides specially designed child-friendly recycling points to encourage younger visitors to go green! To see which venues and organisations are working on their environmental sustainability, look out to see if the Green Arts Initiative logo is displayed. 

Pablo Heras Casado © Fernando Sancho


Those coming to perform, exhibit or speak at the festivals are encouraged to travel by train rather than plane where possible, and to think about the impact of their performances and publicity on the environment.

The Fringe provides guidelines for performers about putting on a show sustainably, including using green publicity and considering the environmental impact of set design.

Loo 1 Eloi Bonjoch 975x400


Environmental issues have also been key to programmes in recent years, with the festivals providing the perfect space to explore, debate and learn about sustainability and environmental responsibility.

The Science Festival have hosted numerous lectures and discussions on renewable energies, recycling, air pollution and more. And in 2018, the Children’s Festival programme included Loo, a play about climate change, while the Film Festival presented the European premiere of Metamorphosis - a film which explores the scale of the global environmental crisis and lays out a vision for the future.

 Sustainability 8 green things all night trams


Of course, audiences and visitors are vital parts of the festivals and also have a role to play! Those attending festival events can make use of apps and e-tickets to plan their trip, and are encouraged to walk or cycle within Edinburgh where possible. Last year a city-wide cycle scheme was launched to make it even easier for residents and visitors to cut their carbon footprints.

The Festivals also suggest that visitors booking accommodation in the city look for providers who have committed to reducing their environmental impact through the Green Tourism Business Scheme.

Of course, the hard work continues beyond #GreenArts Day, with all of Edinburgh’s Festivals committed to working together to keep playing their role. For more information about the work of the Festivals in this area, keep an eye on our website, and visit our sister organisation Creative Carbon Scotland all year round.

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