Hay on Earth

Sustainability is core to Hay Festival, both on stage and in the development of the Festival as an organisation.

Hay Festival site picnic
Trees on Hay Festival site


The Hay on Earth programmes a sustainability-focused series of events throughout the 11 days of the Festival, exploring current issues, new developments and technical advances. Explore our events on Hay Player.


The social and financial impacts of running the Festival are part of Hay on Earth's focus. Initiatives include working with partners at the Woodland Trust and the National Trust to plant 30 acres of woodland to mark the Festival’s 30th anniversary; providing free tickets for students in higher education; supporting the local community through free loan of the Festival’s thermal imaging camera for building insulation assessments; and providing funding to maintain opening hours for Hay Public Library.


Hay Festival Live Events

We are delighted that we are able to welcome people back in person to experience our sustainability focussed events. We have a wide range of speakers discussing topics from oceans to economics, food to energy, happiness to trees and climate change to insects. Explore and catch up now on Hay Player.

Hay Festival Digital Events

The 2020 pandemic caused us to cancel our live events and move the Festival online. From an environmental perspective, this vastly reduces the negative impacts from travel and infrastructure however it does not entirely remove the CO2 impacts and in fact, the largest part of the digital carbon footprint is due to video streaming - crucial for events such as ours. We have been tracking the carbon footprint of our Digital Festivals and will be able to share the data soon. For more information on Digital Footprinting, please go to our Hay on Earth Toolkit page.

Hay Festival has developed a programme of managing and mitigating the environmental impact of creating a live festival, focusing on energy, waste, transport, procurement and venues. In 2019 we recycled 85% of the waste produced on site. This included six tonnes of cardboard and paper, four tonnes of plastic and cans and 5.95 tonnes of glass. Nine tonnes of carpet recycled, 225 litres of cooking oil for biodiesel use and 12.65 tonnes of food and other materials were composted. The mains electricity supplier for the Festival site is Good Energy, providing 100% renewable energy. The Cup Scheme detailed below, along with a tougher regime on waste generation in general led to a 25% decrease in general unrecyclable waste compared to 2018.

Hay Festival reduces the impact of travel by providing regular public buses from the nearest train station in Hereford. We also provide minibuses that link festival-goers with local B&Bs and surrounding villages and towns. There are free electric car recharging points at our park & ride car park at Clyro Court. If you are coming by car, please offset the CO2 emissions with our partners Energy Revolution (energy-revolution.org.uk), a collaboration between festivals and festival-goers.


In 2018 Hay Festival was the first festival to trial a new, reusable hot drinks cup. It resulted in a reduction in waste from 350 wheelie bins full of disposable coffee cups down to 25 and our 2019 cup deposit scheme for coffee/tea cups and beer/wine glasses running across the Festival site resulted in a further 56% decrease to 11 wheelie bins.

Water standpipes are available across the site so that festival-goers can fill their own drinking bottles with beautiful Welsh water.


Thank you for helping us make Hay Festival more sustainable.

Hay Festival continues to develop ideas and practice in sustainability and believes that debate increases awareness, and good practice increases change in local communities, in business and in society. Hay Festival is actively looking for organisations, public bodies and individuals who can help to achieve these objectives. Please contact andy@hayfestival.org.

Hay Festival Sustainability Report 2019

Hay Festival Environmental Policy