[This article was written by Fran Siebrits. A version of this article has been published by in The Big Issue Magazine (Cape Town, South Africa), Toast (Cape Town, South Africa) as well as Roam Magazine (England).]

Fact: Rocking the Daisies (RTD) is a green-awareness event which aims to be carbon-neutral and have a limited environmental footprint
Fact: It is the most eco-friendly music festival in South Africa
Fact: It won the first Climate Change Leadership Award earlier this year (www.clla.co.za)

This annual festival has hosted high-profile international artists. But it’s the passion of the local talent that makes the event memorable. Local South African bands perform not only for the “love of the gig”, as guitarist David from Dirty Skirts put it, but also to be part of an environmentally aware event.

So what’s this all about?

“The idea developed over a few beers and a braai,” remembers organiser Brian Little from Complete Events in Cape Town. “There was a gap in the market for a music festival up the West Coast. The spring daisies are unique to the area, so the name came naturally.”

Held in an environmentally and social responsible way, this music and lifestyle festival began in 2006. “It was a humble beginning,” Brian says of the first RTD where only 1 300 people rocked around one stage. “This year we are expecting over 12 000 people and will have four stages.”

“The aim of RTD is to create awareness and set an example,” Brian says, “we therefore choose partners with the same ethos.” He explains that suppliers are chosen because of their green credentials. “The sponsors have all come on board and take the philosophy [of the festival] to heart.”

And the venue … ?

Cloof Wine Estate is part of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (www.bwi.co.za) where conservation and the impact of farming practices on the environment are closely monitored. “We are very conscious of the impact on the land; Cloof is a leading farm in that respect,” elaborates Brian.

Willem Wentzel from Cloof Wine Estate respects the way the festival is run and that it is an eco-friendly event. Environmental Impact Assessments and audits have been carried out on the farm for the event. “There are certain criteria that we have to adhere to,” says Willem. “No glass is allowed into the venue; only cans and plastic are used.” This facilitates no breakage and easy waste removal by eco means.

And the bands … ?

One would think that the bands – with their rocking, jet-setting lifestyles – would be the most uninformed about carbon footprints. How wrong that assumption can be.

“I love RDT! It resonates with what we are about,” was the first comment from Hot Water’s Donovan Copely. The festival is one of his favourites and he feels it has the right angle. “A festival can be quite hectic and excessive, so it’s nice focusing on a cleaner vibe and raising awareness. I don’t drink, if that helps,” laughs Donovan.

“RTD brings awareness which takes a long time to get into people’s heads, says Greg Carlin from Zebra and Giraffe. “Hopefully people take it home with them.”

“It is a fantastic festival in a spectacular environment,” says David from Dirty Skirts. “As a musician any performance is a thrilling experience, but it is great that there is a subtext [at RTD] … greening! We were one of the original bands, and feel maternal towards the festival.”

Away from the cameras and bright lights, both Donovan, Greg and David are concerned with doing their bit for the environment as individuals. “I totally recycle and am into the green vibe,” says Donovan. Greg humbly admits to just having started recycling and David had a few wise words to share: “There are many areas in my life for improvement, but we all have to start somewhere and become conscious.”

And the fans … ?

Two of the most successful initiatives of last year’s festival were Walking the Daisies and Cycle to Daisies. “The vibe was incredible,” said Luca Vincenzo, a first time daisy-rocker from Stellenbosch who took ‘being a fan’ a few steps further. It took him two days, but Luca walked to the festival, proving what a low-carbon fan he is. “We had a great time!”

Luca was impressed by the noteworthy effort put into festival. “It’s nice to see green-awareness in our music industry. I think it can influence a much younger crowd.”

So the conclusion … ?

RTD has included all practical measures possible to ensure rocking an eco-friendly event. “RTD has always had a low carbon footprint,” says Brian. “Without a mandate to become carbon neutral, it would just be another festival,” says David. With a motto of ‘Work Hard, Tread Lightly’ one can expect an all-round green feeling. Best you hop on a plane in October to attend the festival – then you’ll see how the green junkies really party!

Festival information: www.rockingthedaisies.co.za