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Green Leaders Q&A #9: Chris Rutherford – Co-founder of Boomtown Festival

We are very happy to kick off our Green Leaders Q&A for 2021 by speaking with Chris Rutherford, co-founder of Boomtown Festival. Boomtown is one of the UK’s most inspiring independent festivals, an organisation that prides itself on its unrivalled artistic output, cutting edge theatrical style and cultural content. Boomtown has a thriving Green Mission through which they are working towards transforming into a sustainable circular economy city – they have taken the Vision: 2025 pledge, are part of the Green Deal Circular Festivals Project and their HQ in Bristol is 100% run on renewable energy. Read Chris’s Q&A below:

1. What is the proudest sustainability achievement or moment of your career?

Partnering with Tree Sisters to help climate change by planting 71,725 trees.

2.  What was your worst ever sustainability-related decision, project or initiative and why?

Not embedding sustainability into our festival culture from the outset. Helping to inspire long term behavioural change amongst our audience takes time.

3.  What are you (or were you) excited about implementing this year/in the future?

The release of our reworked vision, which features the six pillars of Boomtown; Respect Yourself,  Respect Each Other, Respect the Planet, and Creativity, Connection and Celebration. Read more about them here.

4.  Which environmental issue do you most care about?

Transitioning to renewable energy.

5.  What sustainable change have you made in your personal life that you are most proud of?

Being vegetarian my whole life and vegan for the last 4 years.

6.  What do you read to stay in touch with green issues?

Greenpeace podcasts! I’m more a ‘listen and watch’ kind of person and love a good podcast. Most of the environmental charities have great content on their websites.

 7.  What is the most memorable live performance in your life?

I just can’t do this one sorry, all are so unique for the time, place, who with, feeling of the moment.

8.  Was there a moment you committed to taking action on climate change?

Seeing single use campsite waste – it’s a huge motivator to do more.

9.  What are the most important issues to tackle at your event?

Driving positive behavioural change.

10. What do you think is the most significant challenge for the events industry becoming more sustainable?

Often festival locations are remote greenfield sites with fewer transport links and connections to the grid services for power and water.

11. Can you share something sustainable about/from another artists or event or company that inspired you to make a change?

Burning Man festival have a phase; ‘MOOP’ (Matter Out Of Place) referring to anything that’s not originally from the land. It’s your duty to pick any MOOP.

12. What is the secret to your sustainable success?

Working with people and partners who have the same vision and goals.

13. Tell us something you feel positive about right now that relates to the environment

Throughout the pandemic we’ve learned there’s heaps to do in the UK, without the need to travel internationally.

14. Tell us a book, film or recent article you feel others should watch/read and why about positive change?

David Attenborough – A Life on our Planet – you have to watch to the end!

15. Can you give people new to sustainability in events a top tip?

Make a sustainability part of your event culture early on.

16. What is the favourite festival moment of your career?

Using our platform to put sustainability right to the top of our agenda and take 66,000 people real life, and over half a million across our social platforms, on that journey with us, is an incredible thing to be able to do. 

17. What habit or practice has helped you most in your personal journey in life?

Eating healthy, keeping active, wanting to learn.

18. Is there anything new or exciting you are planning or changing for the future that you can tell us about? Even a hint!

I’d like to take the festival fully vegetarian and switch to more renewable energy sources. Watch this space.

19. Will we save the world?

Yes! We just need to keep expanding on and committing to our green missions globally.

20. What would your sustainable super-power be?

To switch all power sources to renewable energy.

Find out more about Boomtown Fair at Follow Boomtown on instagram, facebook and twitter.

This Q&A originally appeared in our January 2021 Vision: 2025 newsletter. Sign up to receive monthly event sustainability news, case studies and guest blogs direct to your inbox using the form below.