Ben Street has a broad perspective when it comes to the live music industry – as well as founding and directing Wild Paths, a 23-venue city-wide festival, he is a professional musician, runs a music promotions company, and is events manager at music venue Voodoo Daddy’s Showroom. Last year, in the middle of the pandemic, he launched greenfield festival Wild Fields.
The Wild Paths team has embedded climate issues into its programming and practices, as well as challenging outdated attitudes surrounding gender and minority group representation.
Access asked Street about the goals and challenges involved in making events sustainable.
What is the proudest sustainability achievement or moment of your career?
In 2019 Wild Paths achieved its goal of going single-use plastic free across the whole festival site. We worked with Norwich Refill to provide reusable drinks containers with free refill stations listed on the side of the bottle. It was the festival’s first year.
What was your worst ever sustainability-related decision, project or initiative and why?
I don’t think I’ve made a terrible decision yet.
What are you excited about implementing this year?
At the 2021 festival we aired a series of climate-awareness videos from figures such as Cara Delevingne, Declan McKenna and Greta Thunberg to engage and educate festival attendees. We also used recycled plastic wristbands and lanyards for the first time too!
Which environmental issue do you most care about?
Plastic pollution, and habitat destruction for industrial farming.
What sustainable change have you made in your personal life that you are most proud of?
I chose a green energy provider, got myself a flask (for coffee on the move) and changed my bank to a more ethical provider.
What do you read to stay in touch with green issues?
It’s Freezing In LA – Blog
What is the most memorable live performance in your life?
Jose Gonzalez at Open, Norwich, on the final day of Wild Paths 2019.
Was there a moment you committed to taking action on climate change?
Reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer really catalysed the need to take action.
What are the most important issues to tackle at your event?
Single-use plastics and cutting travel-based emissions.
What do you think is the most significant challenge for the events industry becoming more sustainable?
Having the time and finances to make events greener.
Can you share something sustainable from another artists or event or company that inspired you to make a change?
Shambala Festival has delivered some of the most exciting initiatives out there for events.
What is the secret to your sustainable success?
Persistence and a passion to push it to the forefront of everything we do. Plus working with really amazing partners.
Tell us something you feel positive about right now that relates to the environment
The integration of tech – helping us to monitor meaningful change, set targets and report back.
Tell us a book, film or recent article you feel others should watch/read and why about positive change?
Sir David Attenborough’s address to the world leaders at COP26.
Can you give people new to sustainability in events a top tip?
Focus on aspects of your event that have the most significant climate impact and tackle those first. Attend conferences and event trade shows to build relationships and to find new green solutions/technologies.
What is the favourite festival moment of your career?
Playing Glastonbury on the John Peel stage with my band Coasts.
What habit or practice has helped you most in your personal journey in life?
Cycling short distances and always having a tote bag with me.
Is there anything new or exciting you are planning or changing for the future that you can tell us about? Even a hint!
We’ll be building on our work with NoEncore and expanding our upcycled merchandise range.
Will we save the world?
Yes – through innovation and by being prepared to make big changes!
What would your sustainable super-power be?
The power to swallow up carbon.
This Q&A originally appeared in the Vision: 2025 newsletter.