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Green Space Dark Skies – A Journey Towards Sustainable Outdoor Live Events

Brecon Beacons visitor centre dark sky green space

Green Space Dark Skies is one of ten projects commissioned by UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK.

It sets out to open up the conversation around our rights to access the landscape, our relationship with the environment, and the collective responsibility we have to look after the environment for future generations.

Green Space Dark Skies is inviting 20,000 people, from all paths in life, to create magical moments in wild places across the UK at dusk, kicking off on 23rd April 2022 and running through to 30th September 2022.

Thanks to Green Space Dark Skies for writing this guest post to highlight their fantastic project.


Green Space Dark Skies has principles of environmental and social sustainability at its core, and it is therefore crucial for us to have the smallest possible negative impact we can, both in terms of our carbon emissions and our direct impact on the sites we visit.

The Green Space Dark Skies team thinks that large-scale creative projects like this one have a responsibility to inspire and educate about sustainability, and we are doing that through creating mass participation temporary outdoor artworks in twenty locations across the UK.

We hope that our Lumenators (that’s what we’re calling our participants as they will be carrying low impact lights) will leave feeling welcomed into the landscape having formed a deeper connection with their local community and natural environment.

Plus, we hope that they will gain a deeper understanding of social and environmental issues related to the project’s themes, and therefore be motivated to want to protect their natural surroundings.

White Peak View, Peak District National Park green space dark skies
White Peak View, Peak District National Park. Source: Green Space Dark Skies

Sustainability targets at Green Space Dark Skies

The sustainability targets we have set ourselves for Green Space Dark Skies are incredibly ambitious.

Across 20 different events we’re aiming to:

  • Use 100% renewable energy
  • Have 80% of the Lumenators share their transport to and from the event
  • Send zero waste to landfill
  • Have 100% of our suppliers meet our Sustainable Procurement Standards, and be carbon net positive overall (meaning that we’re balancing out more emissions than we created).

Each event has its own creative and production teams, and every location introduces new and unique challenges to the project. The communities we’re engaging with and environments we’re working in are incredibly diverse and this makes the project very complex – but the challenges are what makes it so exciting. 

Anglesey Coastline green space dark skies
Anglesey Coastline. Source: Green Space Dark Skies

The challenge with sustainable events

Delivering carbon net positive events isn’t simple or easy. We have a ‘fail we may, sail we must’ ethos and are trying to remember that it’s not about perfection, it’s about progress.

At times, trying to do things ‘sustainably’ can feel like an impossible mountain to climb. Not everyone you encounter has warmed to the idea of making compromises in their personal or professional life to be more socially or environmentally sustainable, and the national mood can blow extremely hot and cold on the topic depending on current affairs (think Covid19 and what’s happening in Ukraine).

The language of sustainability is dauntingly technical and political which can create barriers to engaging with the topic. Rethinking ‘event production as usual’ in order to have less of an impact often means embarking on completely unchartered territory – a hard sell when the tried and tested ways (that are usually also cheaper and quicker) are right there for the taking.

New knowledge and policies take time to embed into company or industry culture and it requires perseverance and patience to refine processes so that they actually achieve what they set out to do. 

Cairngorms National Park GSDS
Cairngorms National Park. Source: Green Space Dark Skies

Making responsible outdoor events possible

With Green Space Dark Skies, we’re blessed with an incredible team led by Walk the Plank (outdoor arts specialists and advocates for sustainable practice in delivering outdoor events).

Walk the Plank are truly engaged with the topic of sustainability and are not only receptive to processes and policies that are implemented to meet our targets, but are also forthcoming with ideas and innovative ways to overcome challenges.

After months of preparation, this project is just setting sail on what will be a wonderful, challenging and insightful sustainability voyage.

We want to be totally transparent about our successes and shortcomings so that the project has an ongoing legacy as a useful resource for anyone embarking on a similar project. We look forward to sharing our journey with you – all aboard!

Anyone can sign up to be a Lumenator and for more information on our approach to sustainability, visit https://greenspacedarkskies.uk/sustainability/ 

Thanks to Rebecca Whitman, Sustainability Manager at Green Space Dark Skies and to Nathan Jackson, Head of Production at Walk the Plank & Green Space Dark Skies for providing the information for this blog.

Header image source: Georgina Harpur / Green Space Dark Skies


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