6 ways we aim to reduce our footprint.
Updated: Dec 9, 2019
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir.
I once had a boss at an advertising agency who told me, with his usual frankness, "business is a shit hobby" and, he was right. Which is why the Naughty Northumbrian is a side project for us, a labour of love if you can stomach that over-used cliché.
What that does mean though, is that it can sometimes take longer to implement the ideas and strategies we have due to time constraints. I recently looked through my 2017 documents on our strategy, aims, and goals. Only now, in 2020, are some starting to be implemented.
One of these areas is how we lessen the impact of the event on the environment and ecology of the area, and bring more benefit to the local communities. Traditional logic (some would say out-dated) would dictate that isn't possible, but we hope to try. An event like this can't currently be carbon neutral - anyone who tells you so is lying* - but we can try to lessen our impact.
1) No single use plastics used in 2020 (excluding medical applications).
Truth is, this is an easy win. It isn't hard to implement from our side. In an ideal world we'd like to rule out even the compostable beer and coffee cups we used in 2019 and everyone use the tankards (We understand that isn't quite possible yet due to the cost of the Tankards)
We are happy for you to bring your own pint glass and mugs for coffee - and would encourage you do to so. We're going to discuss discounts for those who do.
2) Use local suppliers and local sourcing.
We do a lot of this anyway. Wylam Brewery are based only an hour away, and our food suppliers are closer. We encourage our food suppliers to source their ingredients locally. Our printing is done in Cramlington on FSC approved paper mixes and our sound and electric team come from Newcastle and run their warehouse entirely on renewables. Our event vehicles are supplied by Mitsubishi Berwick, and boast the lowest C02 emissions of any current 4x4 capable of dealing with the terrain round here. We built a bar, bins, gantries that we can re-use for years to come.
We still use a lot of fuel on dig days, during the run up to the event, while de-rigging and for the generator during the event.
We're working on this - car sharing, storage closer to the venue (less journeys required), alternative power methods and more efficient use of our resources - all while trying to benefit the local economy.
3) On going dialogue with land owners to retain and extend wild spaces.
Behind the scenes, we hope to make cycling an established part of the rural economy. Tourism has its draw backs, so this needs careful consideration but overall the benefits outweigh the potential pitfalls. We look at everything from community asset purchasing to long term land lease to allow development of mtb trails over what we call "hard development" that removes wild spaces. We also, of course, speak with the residents of the valley on a regular basis to garner their opinions - this is their home and where they are earn their crust.
4) Building trails the old fashioned way.
All the trails are built by hand - no diggers, dumper trucks, hardcore or imported rock.
Of course, the trails also need to be sustainable, and this means sympathetic drainage that doesn't barrel water off the hill into countless burns that surround us. By working with the contours of the terrain, instead of entirely re-purposing it with infrastructure, we help keep this area wild and natural.
5) Tree planting and conservation of peat bogs.
Caron Offsetting is a moot point and we don't want to frame this as such. However planting trees, as long as they enhance the bio diversity and ecology of the terrain they are in, is a good thing.
For those who are interested, Borders Forest Trust offer tree planting days: https://bordersforesttrust.org
Northumberland also has some of the best peat bogs in Europe. These are vital carbon sinks, and therefore it is crucial we keep trails away from them and allow their delicate formation to remain intact.
We are looking into offering a tree planting and ride day alongside Forestry Commission England in spring. We'll provide more details on this once we've figured out all the details.
6) You, the competitors.
This is a biggie. We had Macdonalds rubbish left on site at the 2019 event. Not cool. But generally, you all help and we don't take your support for granted.
The area we hold the Naughty in is one of England's last true wilderness's and we have a stewardship role to protect that while the event is on. We can only do this with your support.
Take your rubbish home, bring only what you need, car or van share where you can.
Lastly, enjoy it. The more people we can show to be enjoying the wilderness in a respectful way, the easier it is to protect and put mountain biking higher up the agenda.
If you have any ideas that you think we should consider then let us know.
*We don't offer a carbon off setting scheme as we don't believe these address any problems or provide a credible solution.
* in 2020 we will aim to follow these guidelines when assessing our event. https://www.eventimpacts.com/impact-types/environmental/content/sustainability-planning-and-management/food-and-drink-basic-measures