The future of festivals

Green Lifestyle Online

Q&A with director of Peats Ridge & Surry Hills eco-festivals, Matt Grant.

Matt Grant

Matt Grant has combined his love for festivals with his passion for the environment to create Peats Ridge and Surry Hills Festivals.

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The sun is warm on your back and you have a cool drink in hand... who doesn't love a good festival? Unfortunately, most festivals come with a heavy price to pay for the planet (not to mention your wallet!). We talk to the director of Peats Ridge and Surry Hills Festivals, Matt Grant, about why festivals don't have to come with a toll on the Earth.

Where did the idea for an environmentally sustainable festival come from?
"Originally it was a combination of my passion for festivals coupled with my awareness about the environment. For quite a while I struggled with which direction I wanted to take, until one day I realised that combining the two could lead to an amazingly powerful catalyst for educating people about sustainability."

How long have you been involved in organising festivals such as Peats Ridge and Surry Hills Festival?
"I have been involved in organising Festivals since the first Peats Ridge in 2004, so nine years. However prior to that I had always worked in the entertainment industry."

Could you give us some examples of how Peats Ridge and Surry Hills Festivals work to be environmentally friendly?
"We run both events entirely on 100 per cent Biodiesel renewable energy. Peats Ridge and Surry Hills are the only two major events in Australia to do this. We also run a three bin separated waste system front of house at both events, offer a rebate to our stallholders if they provide receipts for a certain amount of Organic food and use biodegradable cutlery and crockery throughout the Festivals. For a proper overview have a look at the sustainability section on our website."

What are some of the new features of this year’s Peats Ridge Festival?
"Well we’re bringing in a completely new art space which I’m very excited about. It will only open in the evenings and you will enter through a secret tunnel from which you will have no idea where you’ll emerge. As well as this we are bringing back the Dub Shack, which was a real Festival favourite in previous years."

Which act are you most looking forward to and why?
"Our two headliners John Butler Trio and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings of course, and 65 Days of Static who will be wicked, they’re a personal favourite."

Young people are particularly fond of festivals. Do you think getting the message about sustainable living is particularly important to get through to young people? Why?
"Absolutely, for the simple fact they’re going to be living longest so their lives will have a bigger impact purely from a time/use perspective. If their behaviour patterns don’t change the next generation will inherit so many problems from a resources/sustainability/environment perspective that I suspect their quality of life will not be good at all. We all have a responsibility to those that come after us."

Is sustainability something that the featuring acts are passionate about also? If so, which ones?
"Definitely John Butler Trio, John is well known for his stance on sustainability. Also Xavier Rudd who performed last year is very passionate. Anybody who witnessed his set would have witnessed the amazing song he sang about mining and legacy."

Year after year your Peats Ridge Festival pre-sales go extremely well, even before the acts are announced. Why do you think people continue to support the festival each year?
"Look it’s a great festival. It features a huge range of entertainment from the Music to the Arts, the Children’s Festival, Healing areas, Indigenous Festival. Quite simply it’s an amazing Festival and it has good intention behind it."

What sort of sustainable practices have you established in your home?
"I have a great composting pail that I feed the worms with, low wattage bulbs, 100% green power, making sure I switch things off, eat mainly vegetarian, minimise water use, low power consumption appliances. The usual!"

Do you have a personal eco-friendly tip you could share with our readers?
"Yes – get public transport to Festivals!"

Get your ticket to Peats Ridge Festival 2012 here: http://www.peatsridgefestival.com.au.