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Guest Blog: betternotstop help Kendal Callers Leave Nothing But Memories – with 98.07% of tents taken home

In this guest blog, the team at Event Sustainability consultancy Betternotstop; Founder, Hannah Cox and Event Sustainability Officer, Sophie Zienkiewicz, tell us about working alongside the Kendal Calling Festival team to develop and implement a Sustainability Strategy for the 2022 edition. They share the successes of the initiatives, including the ‘Leave Nothing but Memories’ campaign; which helped reduce the total tonnage of tent waste and campsite litter  – with over 98% of tents taken home this year and 250,000 single use cups removed from the site with the introduction of a reusable cup scheme. Read the full blog:

Tell us about Kendal Calling: “The Lake District’s greatest party returned to the fields in July after three years away to celebrate its 15th anniversary in style!  The 35,000 capacity festival welcomed festival go-ers to Lowther Castle to relish in the delights of top-notch headliners, electric stages, awe inspiring decor, festival favourites (The Lancashire Hotpots!), and the breathtaking scenery of the site that the festival calls home.

How has betternotstop been involved?

For the past few months, betternotstop has been working alongside the Kendal Calling team to develop an all encompassing Sustainable Impact Strategy to deliver on a range of key objectives. The priorities were:

  1. Launching the Leave Nothing But Memories campaign
  2. Reducing the total tonnage of tent and campsite waste left over after the festival
  3. Empowering Kendal Callers to make more sustainable choices at all points across the festival – this included traders, artists, suppliers, production team and the audience

How did it go?

Historically, the Monday morning of most festivals in the UK is like a scene from Lord of the Flies… tents, food, belongings, strewn across the campsite. Weary festival go-ers wading through ankle-deep rivers of discarded cans and camping detritus. However, the main focus of the Leave Nothing But Memories campaign was to reduce the number of tents left abandoned on that Monday morning – and guess what, we did it!

Tent waste: This year, an unbelievable 98.07% of tents were taken home! It was a great testament to the attitude of the audience. They took responsibility and drastically improved the condition of the campsites.

Campsite litter: For the first time Kendal Calling had a dedicated Campsite Crew whose role was to litter pick in the worst offending campsite across the weekend. The team were involved in daily litter picking as well as engaging with campers about their responsibility for their own litter. The crew also had a bunch of great incentives to help keep the campaign fun and exciting.

The campaign made a huge difference to the appearance of the campsite and gave campers the motivation to keep their pitches clean and tidy, with the campsite crew noting that:

“it seems to be changing people’s mindsets. We are helping the campers get out of the single-use mindset and act more responsibly at the festival.”

Reusable cups: Another first was the use of reusable cups. The audience paid £2 at the beginning of the weekend for their own cup, which they could then use across the festival bars.

This cut down on plastic waste and ultimately drove home the message that single use items were no longer an option at Kendal Calling. In fact, this initiative removed around 250,000 cups from The Deer Park!

Would you say the sustainability initiatives were a success?

An overwhelming yes!

This unparalleled success is partly down to the presence of the Leave Nothing But Memories campaign logo. It was on the main stage, on flags and banners across the festival site, on toilet posters, the side of the bars, on lanyards and wristbands. As one audience member put it ‘ it was everywhere!’.

How did you assess the positive impact of the Leave Nothing But Memories campaign?

Well firstly, the team was able to actually count the number of tents left over on Monday morning… previously this has been an impossible task! So we know that there has been a definite reduction in tent waste – some fields had no tents left behind!

Data collection: The Campsite Crew completed over 250 surveys with the audience, traders and sponsors onsite, surveying a range of people who provided their honest thoughts and feedback. betternotstop will process the data to help build a picture of the festival’s successes and opportunities for improvement.

What next for sustainability at Kendal Calling? 

betternotstop and the Kendal Calling team have proved that behaviour change can happen. Audiences are conscious of their actions and on the whole want to act responsibly to protect the natural environment of the festival site. Look out for Kendal Calling 2023… it’s going to be mega!

How can you find out more?

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This case study originally appeared in our September 2022 Vision: 2025 newsletter. Sign up to receive monthly event sustainability news, case studies and guest blogs direct to your inbox.