With festivals looking like they’re back on for 2021 (fingers crossed!) we’re going to be sharing lots of top tips for you to get the most out of your music festival season, starting with these seven surprisingly easy ways to be more eco-friendly at festivals!
Festivals can be intrinsically wasteful spaces. We’ve all seen the war-zone like photos of tent strewn fields, overflowing bins and litter by roadsides… but savvy festival-goers are not about that life. What’s more, it’s amazing to see increasing amounts of thoughtful and progressive festivals are implementing their own pioneering initiatives to combat waste, reduce their carbon footprint and fight against climate change!
If you want to do your bit to lessen your impact on the environment when you’re heading off on your festival adventures this summer then check out these top tips – with a bonus one at the end that might be the most powerful of all of them…
7 Ideas to be more Eco-Friendly at Festivals
1. Travel Greener to Festivals
Did you know that a study by Ecolibrium found that up to 80% of a typical UK festival’s carbon footprint is from audience travel and transport?!
This means we have a responsibility to choose our mode of transport wisely. As well as the impact on the environment, audience travel has a big impact on the local area around festivals – ever wonder why some events find it so hard to get a license?
Taking public transport to festivals is one of the best options to lessen your impact on the environment and alleviate your carbon footprint. Many festivals offer shuttle busses from their local train stations or dedicated coaches, often with perks like shorter queues at the gates and cheaper tickets. I got the coach to Shambala in 2019 which was the first time I’d done it since I was about 18, and it was awesome! I met some great people, got into the festival super quick and even had a nap on the way!
If you need to drive make sure to do your bit by car sharing. Find passengers on Facebook groups or check out GoCarShare’s festival pages to find a lift or a passenger. You can also balance the emissions caused by your travel by using Ecolibrium’s Carbon Calculator.
Wanna be super green and you’re feeling adventurous? Well then hop on your bike! Check out Red Fox Cycling to see if they’re offering a guided ride to your fave festival, most of these come with great perks too!
2. Be Zero Waste at Festivals
BYOB… and CUP… and cutlery…
Create no waste at your favourite festivals by bringing your own reusable receptacles. With drinking cups and bottles it’s handy to have something with a loop or a carabiner on it so you can attach to your bag or bumbag.
Stainless Steel Travel Mug – with a handy carabiner handle so you won’t lose it!
Stainless Steel Water Bottle – keep your water cool and again this has a handy loop so you can attach it to yourself.
Bambu Reusable Eat & Drink Tool Kit – this handy kit comes complete with a bamboo straw and some very portable diggers.
3. Use the correct bins
Lots of festivals won’t let you use your own cups at the bar or plates for traders because of hygiene and portion control. If you’re at a festival that is making an effort to streamline their waste channels then make sure you help them out and read the signs on the bins or else you might contaminate a whole load of recycling!
Things to look out for:
- Are all the traders using vegware? Sometimes this even looks like plastic but is fully compostable in an industrial composter – so make sure it goes into specific compost/food waste bins!
- Are they collecting cups? Maybe they’re reusable ones that you’ll get a deposit back for or maybe you can bring back stacks of paper ones to be recycled.
- Every can counts! Did you know aluminium drinking cans are infinitely recyclable!? Make sure to put those in can specific recycling not general waste.
Photo by Jody Hartley at Boomtown
4. Wash Greener!
Save water and ditch the wet wipes
Both at the same time!? How, you ask?! With a handy Pits and Bits festival wash kit! Just use it, towel off, smell delicious and save water as well as the waste of nasty wet wipes.
These Organic Cotton wipes from Ethical Superstore are handy for everything, from make-up removal on your face to freshening up your body.
This magical stuff from Pits & Bits is no rinse! Will leave you feeling (and smelling fresh) and just needs to be towelled off, quick and handy.
The wonderful Jolly turtle provide these for some of the fanciest boutique camping set ups so you know they’re good! Use my code JOLLYDULCIE10 for 10 % off.
Check out my ethical festival beauty guide for heaps more ideas to feel fresh and look your best all festival long.
5. No Fast Festival Fashion
I feel very strongly about this one… Fast fashion is one of the world’s top polluters and festival fashion can one of the worst offenders if items are purchased just for one wear. However, there are so many easy (and fun!) ways to be more mindful of your festival clothing consumption!
I’ve written a full in-depth guide to shopping more sustainably and ethically for festival wear which covers these five principles:
- Wearing what you already have.
- Swapping and borrowing your festival outfits.
- Finding festival wear second hand or vintage.
- Making, repurposing or upcycling your festival outfits.
- And finally… if you have to, consciously buying new, from independent designers with sustainability practices in place. Not horrible plastic-y mass-produced festival wear from Amazon that has probably ripped off indie designers… just sayin’!
6. Leave No Trace & Take Your Tent Home
This one is the no brainer. If you brought it then bring it home. Don’t bring too much stuff in the first place, it will make it easier on Monday when you feel like hell… If you think you might not be bothered, then treat yourself to a pre-pitched option so you don’t have to worry about it!
Bluedot Festival by George Harrison
7. Finally… Ask Your Favourite Festival What They Are Doing to Reduce Their Environmental Impact!
This is the most important tip of all – we need bigger change on a systemic level to make a difference… and we all need to come together to demand that.
Are you going to a festival with no green policy? Know that you didn’t see separate recycling bins at your last festival? Ask your favourite festivals what they are doing to reduce their impact!
“If we wait for governments, it will be too late. If we act as individuals, it will be too little. But if we act as communities, it might just be enough, and it might just be in time!”
Make them know that festival sustainability is an important issue to you as an attendee and might impact your ticket buying choices in the future! This one is especially important if you attend big corporate festivals that often don’t have the environment as their top priority.
Pauline Bourdon, the founder of specialist sustainability consultancy Soliphilia, industry suggests;
“Head to the festival’s website and look for a sustainability section. Check if they have tangible initiatives eg: we use reusable cups, all our traders use organic, locally or sustainably sourced food, 70% of our waste is recycled – instead of big eco-disclaimer with no concrete impact on site.
It is important to see if a festival’s ethos fit your values, and what environment you wish to party, dance and connect in! If they don’t, let them know.”
Soliphilia focuses on green touring and music and Pauline is also the sustainability coordinator for Love Saves the Day Festival amongst other events. She has one final piece of excellent advice:
“Lead by example! When it comes to waste, we found that people tend to copy the behaviours they witness around them, watching other attendees leaving a clean campsite, or picking up random waste from the floor can inspire others to do the same! And don’t forget to bring and use your reusables (cup, bottle, cutlery, straw).”
Me in Shangri-La at Glastonbury this year… in 30 degrees! With Beyond retro swimsuit, Beksies Boutique bumbag and RAW bottle.
I’m definitely no green angel and have committed a fair few environmental festival sins in my decade or so going to festivals as an adult – eek! But I’ve pulled my socks up and I’m a full-on water bottle carrying, litter picking, second hand wearing reformed character now. Small, regular changes and just generally being more thoughtful and mindful about your consumption decisions is the way to go, it’s a journey.
I’d love to know what your top tips for being more environmentally conscious at festivals are? What have I missed from this list? Let me know in the comments below! 👇