This July we spoke to Green Gathering’s (GG) Em Weirdigan for our Green Leader’s Q&A – with 25 years on the festival circuit, including ten running Weirdigan’s Organic Cafe, Em became a Green Gathering’s festival director in 2013. She manages GG’s Green Markets, co-ordinates publicity, and makes sure sustainability remains top of the agenda. She qualified as an assessor for A Greener Festival in 2017, and curated the Solution Zone at Extinction Rebellion’s Spring Uprising in 2019.
1. What is the proudest sustainability achievement or moment of your career?
Receiving our first Greenest Festival accolade at the UK Festival Awards 2017
2. What was your worst ever sustainability-related decision, project or initiative and why?
Ordering local organic milk… and getting raw unpasteurised milk delivered instead, which couldn’t be used on Health and Safety grounds.
3. What are you (or were you) excited about implementing this year?
A gender-balanced line up, solar ovens for heating water for washing up real crockery, and our best yet vegan and vegetarian food.
4. Which environmental issue do you most care about?
5. What sustainable change have you made in your personal life that you are most proud of?
Banned myself from flying within Europe in 2006.
6. What do you read to stay in touch with green issues?
Ethical Consumer, Guardian.
7. What is the most memorable live performance in your life?
Arcadia and the Lords of Lightning first time they appeared at Glastonbury.
8. Was there a moment you committed to taking action on climate change?
In 2006 Weirdigan’s Cafe went solar powered and I took my last European flight.
9. What are the most important issues to tackle at your event?
Attract and inspire more people.
10. What do you think is the most significant challenge for the events industry becoming more sustainable?
Widespread attitude change of organisers and audiences.
11. Can you share something sustainable about/from another artists or event or company that inspired you to make a change?
Refiesta Leicester inspired us to create our Green Travel Guide.
12. What is the secret to your sustainable success?
Having the green ethos embedded in projects and plans from the outset.
13. Tell us something you feel positive about right now that relates to the environment
Tough call, Lancashire “Nana’s” winning the fracking battle was great.
14. Tell us a book, film or recent article you feel others should watch/read and why about positive change?
“How we will free ourselves together by adapting, transformatively, to climate breakdown” – Skeena Rathnor and Rupert Read, in Permaculture magazine – look up the authors and their writings on ‘Transformative Adaptation’ and ‘Co-liberation’ for inspiration.
15. Can you give people new to sustainability in events a top tip?
You can create a 100% solar powered event – do it.
16. What is the favourite festival moment of your career?
Surprise cabaret for my partner Dave Weirdigan before he died.
17. What habit or practice has helped you most in your personal journey in life?
Refusal to follow the easy path.
18. Is there anything new or exciting you are planning or changing for the future that you can tell us about? Even a hint!
Expect more women artists and a new intake of younger voices and faces on the organising team.
19. Will we save the world?
We might not but some of it will survive!
20. What would your sustainable super-power be?
Follow Em on Twitter at @emweirdigan
Learn more about Green Gathering www.greengathering.org.uk
This Q&A originally appeared in our July 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.