12 ways to have a green festival

31 May 2019

It’s almost the start of festival season, which means it’s time to dust off the wellies, get your camping gear ready and enjoy a summer full of great music. But with over 3 million of us attending UK music festivals every year, creating a staggering 23,500 tonnes of waste – is it ever possible to have a green festival? Here are our tips for cutting down your festival carbon footprint.

Go to a green festival

Not all festivals are created equal. Many of the bigger events having a huge environmental impact caused by the logistics of running multiple stages over the festival period. Not to mention the colossal waste created by the millions of people who attend UK music festivals every year.

So try to make sure the festival you head to is as green as it can be. Check to see if the festival you plan to attend:

  • Is powered by green energy
  • Provides clearly labelled recycling bins
  • Offers shuttle transport
  • Has a sustainability or environmental policy

Check out A Greener Festival for their list of the most environmentally friendly festivals. Previous award winners have included Glastonbury, Green Gathering, and Cambridge Folk Festival.

Ditch the festival tent

Thousands of tents are abandoned at the end of UK festivals every year. Lots of festival goers think they get recycled or passed on to charities – but most end up in landfill. The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has criticised retailers who use the term ‘festival tents’, because it implies that they’re single use.

So rather than buying into disposable consumer culture, invest in some decent camping gear that you can reuse every summer. It’s much better for the environment, and it’ll save you a fortune in pop-up tents.

And if the thought of fighting with your own tent is too much, check out festival glamping. Most music festivals in the UK have a whole range of options, from campervans to yurts, so you’re sure to find a way to enjoy your weekend in comfort.

Travel on public transport

Transport emissions make up the majority of our personal carbon emissions, so travelling to festivals by coach or train is much better for the environment.

Book your tickets well in advance, and check timetables before you set off. Public transport gets pretty crowded during the festival season, but many of the bigger festivals put on extra trains and buses across the weekend.

If you’ve got too much stuff to take on the train, organise a car share with your friends. And if you’re flying solo, check out GoCarShare to share a lift with someone else who’s heading in your direction. You’ll save on carbon emissions and petrol, plus you might make some new friends along the way.

Head to local festivals

To keep your transport emissions even lower, head to a local festival near you. There are plenty of smaller festivals all over the UK, so you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy.

We’ll be heading to WOMAD festival again this year, based at Charlton Park in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside. WOMAD is full of environmental talks and green thinkers, delicious plant-based food from around the globe, and the best in world music.

And if you switch to green energy with Ecotricity, you’ll get a free WOMAD ticket worth £225!

Make your own festival toiletries

Travel toiletries save precious backpack space, but they also come wrapped in unnecessary plastic packaging – and they’re expensive! You can help the environment and save money by steering clear of travel toiletries, and just repackaging or making your own:

  • Take shampoo and soap bars
  • Stay fresh with a natural deodorant
  • Take sun cream in reusable travel bottles
  • Use a Mooncup – they’re eco-friendly and better for festival hygiene
  • Contact lens cases make great pots for moisturiser or foundation
  • Make toothpaste dots to save space – don’t forget your bamboo toothbrush!

Ditch the plastic

UK music festivals are renowned for their plastic waste – so much so, that Glastonbury has banned the sale of all single use plastic in a bid to cut their plastic pollution.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy a plastic-free festival:

  • Take a reusable water bottle, and fill up at the free water stations
  • Take a reusable cup for your morning coffee
  • Refuse straws or take a reusable metal straw with you
  • Swap hand gel for Aesop hand wash – it’s vegan and comes in a glass bottle

Read our tips for cutting plastic out of your life for more zero waste inspiration.

Use biodegradable glitter 

Glitter is a microplastic, which means it doesn’t break down and pollutes our oceans. Microplastics are so small that they’re virtually impossible to remove from our beaches and oceans. 

But the good news is, you can invest in biodegradable glitter so you can still sparkle without harming the environment. Check out Eco Glitter Fun to browse their full range of guilt-free eco-friendly glitter.

Recycle your cans and cups

Around 23,500 tonnes of waste are produced every year at UK music festivals. A really simple way to cut down on the amount of waste you produce is to recycle whatever you can.

Look out for festival recycling points that accept:

  • Cans
  • Cups
  • Bottles
  • Food containers
  • Glass
  • Plastic

Avoid the festival showers

Festival showers are pretty grim – and they’re responsible for a lot of water waste. Wet wipes aren’t any better, causing over 90% of sewer blockages in the UK and ending up in our oceans.

Avoid the horror of the festival showers and pack your own portable solar shower instead. You can fill it with the water you need for a quick freshen up and leave it out in the sun to heat up during the day.

You could even go one step further and give no rinse soap and shampoo a go. You use it to wash like normal, but there’s no need to rinse it all off afterwards – just towel dry and you’re good to go.

Use an eco-mobile phone charger

Don’t waste money on topping up your mobile at expensive festival charge points. Go for the green alternative and get yourself a Pocket Socket.

It works just like a regular portable charger, but it runs off energy generated by hand cranking. So you’ll have peace of mind that your phone’s charged up, and powered by 100% green energy.

Swap the campfire for solar lights

Burning a fire back at the campsite after the bands have finished for the night makes for a cosy spot to carry on the party – but it also releases a whole load of carbon into the atmosphere.

Instead of burning a campfire, decorate your camp with solar powered fairy lights. You can leave them to charge up during the day, and then you can create an eco-friendly haven when you get back to your tent.

Eat plant-based festival food

Researchers at the University of Oxford found that cutting meat and dairy from your diet could reduce your carbon footprint from food by 73%.

Opting for plant-based options at a festival is a great way to be green, and with veganism on the rise there’s more choice than ever. And there’s the added benefit that you’re less likely to get ill from eating a dodgy kebab.

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