BGS news

BGS unveils #TheCommoditree at Glastonbury 2023

The new installation is part of a unique touring festival stand showcasing how modern lifestyles wouldn't be possible without rocks and minerals.

21/06/2023 By BGS Press
Commoditree and the CMIC team BGS © UKRI.
The Commoditree pictured with members of the Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre team. BGS © UKRI.

Situated in the Green Futures field at Glastonbury, festival goers will be invited in to explore how our modern lifestyles wouldn’t be possible without rocks and minerals as part of a new touring festival stand called ‘Modern life doesn’t grow on trees’.

The centrepiece of the stand is #TheCommoditree, a brand-new public engagement installation from BGS, funded by the Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre as part of the Department of Business and Trade.

At first glance, the tree is a sculpture reflecting the natural surroundings of its festival environment. At three metres tall, it is an eye-catching sight, intriguing visitors and helping them trace the ways in which minerals and rocks are extracted from below our feet and intrinsically wound into our modern lives.

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Raising awareness and the necessity for a sustainable supply of critical metals has never been more important.  #TheCommoditree will not only enable people to visualise just how important rocks and minerals are in their everyday lives, but also initiate discussions around dependence on other countries, the associated security of supply and the circular economy.

Paul Lusty, director of the Critical Minerals Intellegence Centre

Alongside ‘Modern life doesn’t grow on trees’, we are launching a host of resources for schools aimed at Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 pupils, including videos and downloads. These classroom activities will explore:

A green future

Our modern lives are enabled by a huge range of appliances and technologies that are powering our sustainable future, from mobile phones and household items to wind turbines and solar panels. These everyday items appear in our lives without much thought as to where they come from and how they are made, yet they all have something surprising in common: they rely on a host of metals and minerals that are extracted from the ground.

#TheCommoditree has all the electrical trappings of modern life emerging from its branches. 3D-printed mineral crystals in the roots of the tree can be pressed like buttons to light up paths to the gadgets that require them for use. Solar panels and miniature wind turbines are nestled in the branches of the tree, bringing home to visitors the reality that clean energy technologies also rely to some extent on the extractive industries. Some objects will be familiar and others surprising … visitors should leave asking themselves if a disposable vape is really the best use of a lithium battery!

The road to a green future is a rocky one. This stand invites visitors to consider the difficult decisions we will all have to make and explore how mining and nature recovery must coexist in order to deliver clean energy for the future.

For media enquiries please contact Sarah Nice, BGS press office:; 07989115657

You can find ‘Modern life doesn’t grow on trees’ and #TheCommoditree in the Green Futures field at Glastonbury from Wednesday 21 June to Sunday 25 June 2023.

For associated imagery, please contact

Resources for schools can be found on our Discovering Geology site

Available for interview

Paul Lusty, director of the Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre at the British Geological Survey.

The BGS public engagement team at Glastonbury — all requests must come through Sarah Nice, 07989 115657.

About the British Geological Survey

The British Geological Survey (BGS) is a world-leading applied geoscience research centre that is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and affiliated to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). BGS works with more than 150 private sector organisations, has close links to 40 universities and sponsors about 100 PhD students each year.

About the UK Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre 

The UK Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre (CMIC) supports the UK in securing adequate, timely and sustainable supplies of the minerals and metals it requires to transition its economy in the coming decades to net zero emissions.

Led by BGS with support from the Department for Business & Trade (DBT), we work together with universities and private and public sector partners to gather and analyse intelligence on the supply and demand of critical minerals, their global value chains and use by UK industry. Our aim is to guide decision making by Government and industry to mitigate risks to supply security, helping to deliver economic prosperity and create opportunities for UK businesses in critical mineral supply chains, domestically and internationally.

About the Department for Business and Trade

The Department for Business and Trade (DBT) unifies what was the Department for International Trade and the business-facing parts of what was the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

It brings sector, market and regulation experts together with world-class trade negotiators and business-support teams across the UK and overseas. This is to make the UK the best place to start and grow a company — helping create the business growth that contributes to better jobs and higher wages and living standards.



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