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Green Leaders Q&A #1: Mary Corfield, Greenbelt Festival

This May 2020, we launch the Monthly Vision: 2025 Industry Leaders Q&A, a regular slot which celebrates inspirational people from across the industry. We ask each guest 20 questions to reveal their inspirations, secrets of success and tips for sustainability. This week we welcome…

Mary Corfield

Mary Corfield is Event Director of Greenbelt Festival and an events consultant with a stand-out passion for sustainability. Greenbelt is pioneering in its practices, winning A Greener Festival awards and becoming well-known for adopting innovative, practical and inexpensive practices. Mary regularly speaks at industry conferences about how events can take positive steps easily and inspire their audiences.  

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

Introducing plastic-free (bamboo) wristbands at Greenbelt in 2019, a UK first.

2.  What was your worst ever decision, project or initiative? 

Agreeing to a sponsor providing branded loo-roll, which blocked the toilets!

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

Ditching the diesel for artist and crew transport by swapping all buggies and gators to  electric vehicles supplied by Electric Wheels.

4.  Which environmental issue do you most care about? 

Saving the planet.

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

Choosing trains over planes and sticking to it.

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

Lots and lots of things!

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

Standing a few feet from Bono as 50,000 people sang along with him.

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

I grew up in the countryside, I’ve always cared about nature.

9.  What is most important issue to tackle at your events? 

Audience travel – swapping cars for coaches.

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

Greening travel and transport – for audience, artist, crew and kit.

11.  Can you share something about/from another event or company that inspired 

We Love Green festival, who recycle, re-use, compost 100% of their waste.

12. What is the secret to your sustainable success?! 

Listening, learning, innovating, encouraging others and not giving up.

13. Tell us something you feel positive about right now 

UK power being coal free for 25 days and counting… “[5th May 2020] 

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

Wilding, by Isabella Tree. A remarkable story of how nature can return to even the most barren areas, it gives inspiration for the future.

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

Focus on a couple of things at a time.

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

Riding one of Joseph’s Amazing Camels – you had to be there!

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

Love. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres. 

18.  Is there anything new you are planning for the future that you can tell us about? 

Yes! Next week is the Sustainable(ish) Online Festival*, May 11-15th. 5 days of brilliant speakers, panels and practical sessions to encourage and inspire. Check it out HERE.”

 *no actual festival will be built, please provide your own alcohol and toilets!

19.  Will we save the world? 

Yes, but it isn’t going to be easy.

20. What would your sustainable super power be? 

This Q&A originally appeared in our May 2020 Vision: 2025 newsletter. Sign up receive monthly event sustainability news, case studies and guest blogs direct to your inbox using the form below.