Clare O'Connor - Native Events

Art installation at Body & Soul. Photograph: Allen Kiely for The Irish Times

Art installation at Body & Soul. Photograph: Allen Kiely for The Irish Times

We spoke to Native Events team member Clare O’Connor. Native Events is Irelands leading sustainable event production company with more than fifteen years experience in event production and a background in environmental management. Their team is made up of event professionals, solar technicians, environmental specialists, a green party councillor, and creative experts who are behind upcoming events such as Body and Soul, Another Love Story and more.

Clare O’Connor photographed by Laragh McCann

Clare O’Connor photographed by Laragh McCann

Body and Soul has always had a reputation for being environmentally conscious and holds the 2018 ‘A Greener Festival’ Award. What makes it different from other festivals when it comes to sustainability?

Environmental sustainability informs all decisions made at Body and Soul. Our dedicated Sustainability Team is comprised of myself, Megan Best our Operations Manager, Michael Soro our Site Manager and Green Party Councillor Claire Byrne. All experts in the field of sustainability who have been blazing the trail for sustainability at Irish festivals for the past seven years.

We are the only Irish Festival to be energy audited and to develop an Energy Demand Management plan. We gather a huge amount of data to inform our policies on sustainability including audience transport methods, car occupancy, audience attitudes towards sustainability, recycling rates & energy consumption.

What is ‘Us and You’?

Body and Soul was the first Irish festival to open an eco-campsite ‘Us and You’. In its first year Us and You had 200 campers committing to a ‘leave no trace’ policy and bringing all their camping gear home with them. This has now expanded to 5500 people last year.

Festivals can be a haven for single use plastic and throw away culture - how do you approach food and drink stalls at Body and Soul?

All Body & Soul food traders must comply with our sustainability code as part of their contract with us. This means: They must use compostable serve ware, coffee cups and cutlery only.  Single-use condiments, polystyrene cups, and plastic straws are prohibited. Traders must source products that are FairTrade, organic and locally-sourced, where possible. 

Solar Panel at Body and Soul. Image from

Solar Panel at Body and Soul. Image from

What is the Living Lab?

Our Living Lab is a sustainability activation run by Native Events, which this year will be powered entirely by solar energy. This engagement space - based on the principles of the circular economy and industrial symbiosis - is comprised of a venue of talks and workshops on the themes of sustainability, science, and behavioural change, which will be alongside a market of sustainable food traders.

What’s new for 2019? Have there been any big changes to your sustainability strategy this year? 

We have developed a Woodlands Restoration Project. In April this year, our crew and families descended on Ballinlough to plant 125 native trees to offset our carbon emissions and to give back to the land that so kindly hosts us each year. This year we’ll be offering the audience the opportunity to sponsor a tree to be planted onsite, with the aim of planting hundreds more. 

Are festival attendees generally cooperative when it comes to ‘keeping it green’? Have you noticed a change of attitude in attendees in recent years? 

Some of the Art Installations at Body&Soul 2018. Photo: Allen

Some of the Art Installations at Body&Soul 2018. Photo: Allen

We are very lucky at Body and Soul in that many of our attendees are already socially and environmentally engaged. The expansion of the Us and You eco campsite to almost 50% of the festival speaks for itself. We get a huge amount of positive feedback on our environmental practices and the introduction of the single-use plastics ban has been wholly welcomed. 

Do you have any top tips for festival goers to minimise their environmental impact this festival season? 

Take your tent home. Cheap, single-use tents are made from plastic and go straight to landfill or incineration when left behind at festivals. Every tent that’s used once and discarded amounts to the equivalent of 8,750 plastic straws. Think of how you’re travelling to the festival - audience travel is the source of over half of a festival’s CO2 emissions. If there’s one thing you can do to have a real and tangible impact it’s either take the bus or carpool. To finish - bring your own bottle & coffee cups to reduce plastic waste. 

To find out more visit

Questions composed by Kiva Durkan

Climate Love Ireland