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Wild Paths: The UK Festival Tackling Climate Change

Wild Paths Festival, together with sustainable apparel brand No Encore, will become the first UK festival to launch an entire merchandise collection from secondhand and vintage garments.

Wild Paths’ tagline is ‘a new breed of music festival,’ which is reflected in their steps into a sustainable future by working with No Encore to make all of their 2021 fashion merchandise from vintage and secondhand garments: reprinted and reimagined for the festival.

The Wild Paths ethos is projected through its efforts to tackle climate issues and challenge outdated attitudes. In 2021 the festival will also be partnering with CanO and Frank Water, a charity that raises funds and awareness of water issues across the UK to help educate attendees and eradicate single-use plastics from the festival site.

The team is also looking to make Wild Paths carbon neutral by working in conjunction with Ecolibrium and other like-minded climate organisations - tackling travel-based carbon emissions and supporting tree-planting and green energy projects.

Founded by ex-musician and sustainable living advocate Abigail Blake, No Encore knows that the pinnacle of sustainability is not to use the earth's resources to create new products, but to recycle what is already on the planet.

The Wild Paths 2021 merchandise will see upcycled T-shirts from brands including Nike, Adidas, Kappa, and even vintage Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren garments - all reprinted with Wild Paths artwork.

Something like £140 million of used but still wearable clothing goes to landfill every year so we’re hoping to set a new standard for festivals. Ben Street, Wild Paths festival director

Wild Paths Festival highlighted the following concerning statistics:

  • £140 million worth of used but still wearable clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year. (via Clothes Aid).
  • The global fashion industry is the second largest polluting industry on the planet, right behind the oil industry. It produces an average of 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually. This is predicted to increase by 49% by 2030 if nothing changes. (via Down To Earth).
  • One third of young women in the UK think an item of clothing is ‘old’ after they’ve worn it once or twice. One in seven young women think being photographed in the same outfit twice is not acceptable. (via The Business Of Fashion)
  • The fashion industry is responsible for approximately one third of all microplastics found in the ocean. (via Plastic Soup Foundation) .
  • The worldwide fashion industry produces over 92 million tonnes of waste per year. (via Nature, CNN).
  • We send 700,000 tonnes of clothing to recycling centres, textile banks, clothes collections and to charity each year in the UK - let’s give it a new life as music merchandise. (via Clothes Aid).



Festivals have a huge part to play, not just in reducing waste and emissions, but also in shifting attitudes and affecting change.

Headliner caught up with Ben Street, Wild Paths festival director about the ethos behind the festival's upcycle movement.

How did Wild Paths come to be in discussions with No Encore?

Abigail, who runs No Encore, worked with me on Wild Paths Festival 2019. She’s a relentlessly motivated and talented person and we’ve always shared a drive to use our platforms to challenge the current status quo and make a positive change.

Why is having upcycled merchandise such an important factor for the festival?

Something like £140 million of used but still wearable clothing goes to landfill every year so we’re hoping to set a new standard for festivals and large scale events, and significantly reduce that figure.

As a team we’ve always strived to be unique and challenge conventional methods, so knowing that each attendee that comes to the merch table will be leaving with a one-of-a-kind vintage Wild Paths tee feels great.

Have you been heading towards more eco friendly solutions as a festival, in general?

The Wild Paths ethos is projected through its efforts to tackle climate issues and challenge outdated attitudes surrounding gender and minority group representation. 

In 2019 the festival achieved its goal of going single-use plastic free across the whole site, and in 2021 we’re looking to move Wild Paths toward carbon neutrality by working in conjunction with Ecolibrium (festival attendees will be encouraged to donate and support international tree-planting projects to balance their travel emissions).

We're working alongside Frank Water and CanO to promote the use of cans and reusable bottles and support the great work Frank Water does in providing clean, accessible water across the globe.

This year all our festival wristbands are made from recycled plastics with bamboo clasps.

Finally, we’ll be airing a series of climate-awareness videos (provided by Climate Live) from notable celebrity figures such as Cara Delivigne, Declan McKenna and Greta Thunberg. The videos will be projected onto the walls of a repurposed Shoe Factory (one of our key 2021 festival venues).



We’re running out of time to stop the worst effects of the climate crisis and it’s going to seriously impact all of us.

Do you hope other festivals will follow suit?

I’d like to think that other festival directors and event organisers will see what we’re doing and want to achieve something similar. Whenever I attend any festival conferences or speak on any panels I always bring up the subject of sustainability and the attempts we’re making to confront the issues. 

Festivals have a huge part to play, not just in reducing waste and emissions, but also in shifting attitudes and affecting change.

Why is this such an important issue?

We’re running out of time to stop the worst effects of the climate crisis and it’s going to seriously impact all of us, not to mention the effects it’s already had on the natural world.

Festivals are an amazing collective celebration of art and creativity, but they’re also a great place to introduce and disseminate new ideas that can help us survive, prosper and be better guardians of a world that sustains us.

When do you aim to be carbon neutral by?

I hope we’ll be able to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025. It’s a hard thing to measure across a multi-venue festival with all the staff, attendees and participating venues but with the help of Ecolibrium and their new app (complete with carbon-calculator) I think we can confidently measure and achieve this.

What are some of the biggest environmentally unfriendly parts of music festivals, and how do you hope to raise awareness of this and change things?

Everyone’s seen those hideous pictures of a plastic strewn field, post-festival and piles of ‘fast-fashion clothing’ filling landfills.

The events industry emits around 1.2bn tonnes of carbon each year and festival-travel (along with unoptimised diesel generators) is a major contributor here.

We hope to raise awareness and set a new precedent for the way the events industry delivers its events, highlighting new concepts and event partners that are doing things differently so everyone can step up and do their part.

The multi-venue festival will take place in Norwich between October 14-17, with 200 artists scheduled to perform across 20 stages over the four days.



Everyone’s seen those hideous pictures of a plastic strewn field, post-festival and piles of ‘fast-fashion clothing’ filling landfills.