Green Picks and Opportunities of the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

“All the world’s a stage” and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is arguably one the most well-known stages of them all. With thousands of productions and hundreds of venues putting on tens of thousands of performances over a three-week period, it’s one of the world’s biggest cultural events – and somewhere where sustainability, climate change and environmental impact is being tackled in a variety of ways.

Here’s our summary of sustainability activity at the Fringe:

Strategic Engagement by the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe society are the guardians of the festival, providing leadership, co-ordination and support for the many that participate. In 2018 they launched their ‘Fringe Blueprint’: a statement of intent of their work until 2022 (their 75thanniversary!).

One of their 8 key commitments was to “A Green Fringe: to reduce the festival’s carbon footprint and champion initiatives that limit our impact on the environment”, with ideas around paper reduction, adoption of cutting-edge technologies, and embedding sustainability into the designs for a new headquarters. With this long-term high-level demonstration of their commitment to sustainability, we’re excited to support them as a green festival!

Practical Support for Venues and Companies

We know that sustainable practice can be new for the local, national and international venues and companies producing shows at the festival, so we work with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society to create and promote toolkits to advise how to increase the sustainability of everything from show design to promotion! Current handbooks and advice can be found on the EdFringe website, including:

Our Green Arts Initiative supports Scottish-based venues, companies, agencies and other cultural organisations to reduce their environmental impact and increase their sustainability. As of this year, all Edinburgh Festival Fringe venues who are members of the Green Arts Initiative have a ‘badge’ on their listing. Check out examples including Assembly Hall, Pleasance Courtyard and Greenside!

Other Campaigns and Initiatives

The Fringe Swap Shop
Hosted at Fringe Central on the last three days of the festival, this initiative encourages companies to donate good-quality props, costumes and materials which would otherwise be discarded at the end of a show run – enabling them to be reused or recycled! With a ‘bring what you have; take what you want’ approach, anyone is able to collect items during the Swap Shop, and we have a case study on how it works!

The Fringe Food Bank
Run by comedian Simon Caine, and a variety of partners and venues, this initiative encourages participating companies to donate leftover food and period products before they leave Edinburgh, with the supplies redistributed to the local community in need.

The #SustainableFringe campaign
New for 2018, this campaign seeks to encourage ‘performers, punters ad planners’ to take on three challenges for a more sustainable Edinburgh Festival Fringe experience.

Shows and Performances

One of the unusual things about the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is its uncurated nature: any company wishing to put on a show is able to do so, and there is no artistic director. Of course, with over 3,500 shows across a huge range of genres, it can be difficult to choose what to see, and know how to identify productions with environmental or sustainability content. However, each year there are productions with themes of climate change, sustainability and nature.

Here at Creative Carbon Scotland we’ve identified our first pick of the shows on offer this year!


  • Anya Anastasia: The Executioners 1 – 26 Aug / 8pm / Gilded Balloon Teviot
    “Award-winning musical-comedy maverick Anya Anastasia brandishes her razor-sharp satirical wit…attacks on ecological screwups, techno obsessives and self-congratulatory slacktivist keyboard warriors.”

Children’s Shows

  • The Adventures of Sam Swallow 2 – 27 Aug / 11.45am / C Venues – C Too
    A new play for children and families about the beauty of nature and our need to protect it, brought to life through music, dance and puppetry.
  • The Garden of Delight 31 Jul – 19 Aug (not 15, 16, 17) / 2pm / Duddingston Kirk Manse Gardens
    “We have a simple environmental message: look after our world before people destroy it forever. The children journey back in time with Tumshie the jester joining the inhabitants of the garden with music and singing along the way.”


  • Luke Rollason’s Planet Earth 2 – 26 (not 15) / 2.30pm / Monkey Barrel Comedy Club
    Set in a future where our worst predictions came true – following ecological collapse, thousands of endangered species are extinct, including the BBC. But one plucky (and unpaid) intern isn’t giving up, and right on programming schedule, we’re getting series three.
  • Lucy Porter: Pass It On 1 – 26 Aug (not 13, 20) / 5.30pm / Pleasance Courtyard
    Musings on what we receive from our ancestors and what we pass on to future generations. Lucy’s inherited dodgy knees and global warming from her parents, but can she leave a better legacy for her children?
  • Matt Winning: Climate Strange 2-26 Aug (not 13) / 5pm / Just the Tonic at The Mash House
    Dr Matt Winning is thinking about starting a family but wonders if he should. A show about why our knowledge about climate change doesn’t necessarily match our actions.

Dance, Physical Theatre and Circus

  • The Grey Life 19 – 27 Aug / 7.10pm / C Venues – C Royale
    “Open the window, take a breath – outside it’s grey. The world is polluted. We produce, we consume, we waste and we are never satisfied. How does our globalised world work?” A documentary-dance-theatre-film.


We’re a bit biased on this one: we’re hosting it! Taking place at Fringe Central (the home of support for participants) it’s a celebration of the community of practitioners and venues practising sustainability at the Fringe.


  • Nàdar / Prakriti 3 – 27 Aug/ 10am -6pm Tu/Th/Fri/Sat; 2pm – 6pm Wed / Edinburgh Printmakers
    Through new print commissions, Ravi Agarwal responds to current conversations about rural and urban sustainability and the various challenges posed to nature in Scotland and India. Partnership support from the John Muir Trust. We’re running a Green Tease discussion around this exhibition in July.
  • Reuse, Reinvent, Reimagine Opening party 10 Aug / 7pm / Gallery 23
    This art exhibition highlights the inability of humankind to effectively cope with the disposal of the vast amounts of household and industrial waste and the destruction of the natural world for profit.
  • Go Wild on the National Cycle Network Photo Exhibition 6-31 Aug / 8am – 7pm / Lochrin Basin
    The National Cycle Network (NCN) is a series of traffic-free paths and quiet, on-road cycling and walking routes that connect to every major town and city in Scotland. A collection of photographs curated by active travel charity, Sustrans.

Music, Musicals and Opera

  • The Great Song Cycle, Song Cycle 13 – 18 Aug / 12.05pm / theSpace @ Surgeons Hall
    A musical memoir about one woman’s solo bicycle/music tour 1,254 miles down the west coast of the USA.
  • World in Progress 13 – 25 (not 19) / 10.20pm / theSpace on North Bridge
    A brand-new musical song-cycle that explores our ever-changing relationship with the earth.


  • The Man Who Planted Trees 20 – 27 Aug / 2.30pm / Scottish Storytelling Centre
    Multi award-winning adaptation of Jean Giono’s classic environmental tale by Edinburgh-based Puppet State Theatre Company. A previous winner of the Edinburgh Fringe Sustainable Practice Award.
  • Solarplexus: An Alternative Energy Play 3 – 27 Aug (not 13, 20) / 7.35pm / Zoo Carteris
    Corporate surveillance and conspiracies abound in this hyper-speed piece of sustainable sci-fi theatre from NYC.
  • Bottled Up 3 – 18 Aug (not 12) / Times vary / theSpace on North Bridge
    This funny solo show explores eco-anxiety, our dependency on plastics in day-to-day life and considers the irony of living in a world of plenty.
  • The Handlebards (Twelfth Night and Romeo and Juliet) 22 – 26 Aug / 1pm / Assembly George Square Gardens
    The HandleBards have cycled 1,500 miles from London to Edinburgh, carrying on the back of their bikes all of the set, props and costumes necessary to perform Shakespeare. A previous winner of the Edinburgh Fringe Sustainable Practice Award.

If you want to browse your own sustainability selection, take a look on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe website (or use their app!). We’re also always open to new recommendations, so get in touch or submit your event listing if you have a show to share!

Not just the Fringe

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is only one of the major Edinburgh Festivals and it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to international cultural leadership on environmental sustainability. Take a look at the members of our Green Arts Initiative and our member case studies to find out more.

The post Green Picks and Opportunities of the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.


Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

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