Besides the heavy use of smartphones to document an epic on-stage moment, the idea and experience of music festivals has remain largely unchanged since the 1990s. For a weekend or more, they have grown to essentially become mini-cities themselves just to accomodate large numbers of local and foreign attendees who invade rural sites, produce pollution, and leave behind tonnes of plastic waste. Let's not forget the incredible amount of fuel required to transport them as well as the food and drink they consume.
With apocalyptic fires raging in Australia and relentless flooding sweeping across Indonesia this year, the urgency for change has been prompted festival organisers to step up their efforts to reduce the environmental impact of their events. In Singapore, Garden Beats is leading the charge with their sixth edition this year, which features acclaimed international acts such as Foals, Sabrina Claudio, BLOND:ISH, Viken Arman, Crussen, Giolì & Assia, The Illustrious Blacks alongside local DJs including Orio, DJ Aurora, Bongomann, Toppings, KFC, Brendon P, James Selva, and Justmack. Here's a closer look at their sustainability efforts in 2020.
ENFORCING A SINGLE USE BAN
F&B vendors will be using reusable tin cups. Festival-goers are encouraged to bring their own reusable cups, or rent a tin cup when they arrive.
SETTING UP RECYCLING AND COMPOST STATIONS
To process litter and food waste more effectively, recycling and compost stations will be stationed around the grounds. Composting not only reduces landfill waste, it also returns much-needed nutrients to the soil.
BEING CERTIFIED AS 100% CARBON NEUTRAL
One of the biggest challenges for festivals to become truly sustainable is energy use — not just the energy required to stage the event, but the fossil fuels utilised in transportation. On that front, Garden Beats has worked with Environmental Solutions Asia (ESA) to calculate all of its carbon and environmental-related footprint from all sources including generators that support lighting to airplanes that fly musicians in. These efforts have paid off. In 2018, Garden Beats became the first music festival in Singapore to be certified as carbon-neutral. This year, it will continue that landmark status by using renewable energy in partnership with ES Power.
SUPPORTING TREE-PLANTING INITIATIVES
To offset its carbon footprint further, the festival offers attendees the option of donating as little as a dollar to One Tree Planted, a non-profit environmental charity that has spearheaded reforestation efforts across the world.
CREATING A ZEN GARDEN
The festival isn't just conscious about its impact on the environment — in this instance, the lush greenery of Fort Canning Park — it is also mindful of creating an atmosphere of all-round wellness for its attendees. Tackling the needs of both the mind and body, the dedicated Zen Garden will feature calming guided meditation and breathwork sessions as well as restorative yoga and dance activities.
INSPIRING THROUGH CONSCIOUS TALKS
Why wait around listlessly for your favourite acts to get on stage when you can hear from an incredible lineup of game-changing speakers. This year's most prominent personalities and experts include Green is The New Black's founder Stephanie Dickson, Edible Garden City's Bjorn Low, Style Theory's Raena Lim, and musician Inch Chua.
Words by Vincent Li