‘Already existing’ sustainability experiments: Lessons from the UK camping music festival

Dr Alison L Browne1, Dr  Russell Hitchings2, Dr  Tullia Jack3

1University Of Manchester, United Kingdom,

2University College London, United Kingdom,

3Lund University, Sweden


Drawing on two recent papers in Geoforum and Journal of Sustainable Tourism we propose that the camping music festival – a cultural laboratory in which attendees try out new identities – can be thought of as a site of ‘already existing’ sustainability experimentation. Through survey, observation, and interview research at two camping music festivals in the UK, we examine how current festival goers respond to the disruption of their usual cleanliness and washing regimes, paying particular attention to how a combination of social and infrastructural cues serve to encourage the emergence of a temporary new cleanliness culture. Doing so highlights the value of seeing human resource consumption as a matter of dynamic collective convention more than fixed personal preference. The implications extending from this work are twofold. The first is that these empirical insights leads to a broader discussion of how visitor needs and the social world are most usefully studied by both future festival organisers and the wider field of sustainable tourism research. Secondly, we argue that research on the geographies of ‘already existing’ sustainability experiments such as the festival holds new potential for reimagining mundane, everyday practices within research and policy agendas on sustainable futurity.


Dr Alison Browne (Lecturer, Geography, University of Manchester) is an inter/transdisciplinary geographer working on water/energy/food/carbon/plastic in the UK/EU, China, India. She completed UG/PhD at Curtin University; and has been a Research Fellow at CSIRO, Curtin University, Lancaster University.

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