INTERVIEW. “We Love Green is a bit of an eco-responsibility testing lab”

Gorillaz, PNL, Phoenix, Clara Luciani, Juliette Armanet… For its 2022 vintage, We Love Green dazzled us. But its lineup is not its only strength: since its inception in 2011, the festival has stood out for its environmentally responsible commitment, which has continued to evolve over the years.

Kick off the summer festivals. On the music scene, We Love Green opens the ball. A festival launched in 2011 in the Parc de Bagatelle, which had 10,000 visitors at the time. Ten years later, the festival has taken up residence in the Bois de Vincennes. And after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the 2022 edition hosted more than 100,000 festival-goers… in a greener spirit than ever.

Marie De La Giraudière, Head of European Content and Projects, and Marianne Hocquard, Head of Sustainable Development at We Love Green, tell us more about the festival’s eco-friendly commitments and the “green” novelties that visitors could discover during this edition.

How have the festival’s environmentally responsible commitments evolved since its launch in 2011?

From the start, the teams of We Love Green were faced with the task of organizing a festival in the middle of nature. There are real specifications that must be respected to protect biodiversity, which has certainly accentuated the festival’s eco-responsible commitment.

Of course, the fact that a festival is being organized that is intended to receive 10,000 or 100,000 visitors changes the situation radically: today the restrictions are no longer the same as in the beginning. This encourages us to think about solutions on a much larger scale, whether it concerns transport, catering, waste, energy needs, etc. It is very challenging.

We Love Green is a bit of an eco-responsibility testing lab. We test solutions and adjust based on the effectiveness of each of them. We are constantly evolving every year. Because unfortunately no one has yet found the solution to organize a completely CO2-neutral event!

What exactly are the novelties for this 2022 edition?

In 2019 we tested solar panels and green hydrogen generators, but with a low power. This year we tested a more powerful generator. We have also expanded our solar park and are also testing different types of biofuels.

Are there specific positions in which you experience more difficulties than others?

The garbage! Even if we avoid them as much as possible, it’s hard not to produce them! In particular, it has been three years since we found single-use plastic on the festival site. But between the emissions from festival-goers and backstage teams, we have eleven different waste streams on the site. Many products still reach us with packaging.

Another problem is compost. We place specially reserved bins for bio-waste throughout the site. But after contacting composting platforms in Ile-de-France, we found out that some don’t all handle the same type of waste: some materials are accepted, some are not, which makes the overall operation of this system rather opaque.

This requires cooperation with local authorities and operators. That’s what we want with We Love Green: to locate the problems and report them to the involved entities. We also plan to set up a working group with Paris City Hall, as part of the 2024 Olympics.

How do you make festival-goers locally aware of ecology?

The whole idea of ​​We Love Green is to provide a festive and joyful event to raise public awareness of the challenges of sustainable development. We do this, of course, through our conference scene. This year, for the first time, we invited great star chefs, who offer a 100% vegetarian menu.

We also give the floor to companies with strong projects related to ecology. The principle is to give them three minutes on stage before the big headliners pass so that they can get their message out in front of thousands of people.

We also work a lot on signage: many panels spread over the festival try to explain our actions as clearly as possible. Volunteers are also trained to answer questions from visitors and to explain our working method.

Covid obliges, the festival has been deprived of its two previous editions. Did this affect the progress of your steps?

We had some fears at the beginning, especially regarding the return to single-use plastic use due to the Covid. Fortunately, there was no doubt about this! In the end it is even the opposite, as these “less busy” years in terms of production have allowed us to meet regularly and take the time to think and discuss environmental issues, be they NGOs that we collaborate or with other European festivals.

We Love Green is also one of the signatories of the Green Deal Circular Festivals, one of the main objectives of which is to be 100% circular by 2025. What measures will you take to achieve this?

This agreement, which brings together some twenty international festivals, is based on around six specific themes: transport, materials, water, energy, food and waste. We are already working on all these aspects, but our participation in this project will allow us to go further. The importance of these working groups, in addition to sharing experiences, is to create common tools.

For example, there is the question of the materials used for the scenography and the possibility of exchanging sets between different festivals or another musical event. The idea is to be able to recover all materials and put them back on stage. This is a topic that goes beyond the music industry and extends to the entire artistic sector.

More broadly, what do you think are the best levers of action available to the music industry to act collectively and take a more eco-responsible approach?

The key lies mainly in cooperation, in the very broad sense of the word. Ten years ago, when festival director Marie Sabot founded We Love Green, nobody believed it! Today, the festival is mandated by entities such as the Paris City Hall to use its sustainable development expertise for other actions and even receives additional grants! It was time for the institutions to address the issue. We are making slow but sure progress!

(ETX Daily Up)

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