Festivals’ Environmental Impact and What Attendees Can Do?

After the Biggest music festival in the UK (Glastonbury) and on the eve of Wireless festival – the festival season is really kicking into gear (with Lovebox festival a week after and Latitude the weekend after that). We would like this blog to try to raise awareness regarding plastics, sustainability, and waste at festivals, what festivals are doing to resolve this issue and if you’re going to a festival over this season to highlight what you can do as individuals to ensure the sustainability of these events.

Festivals are fantastic events gathering in hundreds of thousands of people each year. However, they have come under fire in previous years due to their environmental impact. This has led to an increased effort to reduce plastics, waste and the overall environmental impact of festivals. One major issue is one-use tents that litter the area following the event. Understandingly, tents do get wrecked and become dirty during these events. But did you know…“18,500 tents were abandoned, that’s 44% at just one festival” (comp-a-tent.com).  That is a huge number just left at one festival!  A lot of people believe these tents will all go to charity but the festival workers only have a limited time to sort through and check to see if the tent is useable before they have to be off-site. Therefore, they cannot sort through this massive number of tents in such a short duration – leading to these tents ending up in landfill or an incinerator.

Firstly, we would like to highlight that festivals are changing their ways regarding their sustainability. They are helping to reduce plastics and their environmental impact “Bestival, Boardmasters and Kendal Calling were among 61 festivals who signed up to the drastic on plastic initiative last year, pledging to rid their sites of single-use plastic by 2021.” (www.bbc.co.uk) This shows how committed a lot of festivals are to this cause. There is already a multitude of things that festivals do to reduce their environmental impacts, here are some examples:

Glastonbury stops every four years to give the land, the wildlife and surrounding villages a break, Love Saves the Day is so committed they do ‘on the spot’ checks for bio-degradable takeaway trays and cutlery.

This shows that individual festivals have their own methods as organisers to try to reduce their environmental impact and the carbon footprint of their festivals. But they are now implementing more restrictions on attendees to these festivals to try further reduce the problem, especially the issue surrounding plastic. A heavy emphasis has been made on single-use plastics (abandoned tents, water bottles/cups), an example of this is the Glastonbury festival that happened last weekend (26/06/19 – 30/06/19) had banned the sale of single-use plastic bottles.

Festivals are big business and hundreds of thousands of people will be attending this summer, as highlighted above, festivals are now cutting down on plastic pollution but there are some issues when camping to going completely plastic-free. Therefore, here are some of my tips and information I have brought together to help reduce plastic and be eco-friendly at festivals:

  • Ditch the throwaway cup
  • Bring a bottle
  • Reusable pint glass (can buy at the event)
  • Festival food – bring your own cutlery and bowls
  • Plastic-free toiletries
  • Bring your own mac or raincoat to avoid buying single-use plastic macs

These are good steps you can take mainly prior to the festival to help ensure that you don’t require buying items such as a single-use poncho/mac at the festival if you have items that help your needs with you, it means you don’t need to purchase plastics or produce waste at the event. However, whilst at the festival to further help reduce your impact you should use appropriate bins for your waste and take your tent with you when you leave, amongst numerous other factors. This is important to try to reduce the clean-up operation post-festival, as “UK festivals produce a whopping 23,500 tonnes of rubbish every year, with two-thirds of that being sent off to the landfill.” (www.nme.com). So, this is another factor that is leaving a huge carbon footprint and reduces the sustainability of festivals.

As a whole, there is a huge demand for festivals and they are events that should be embraced as they are amazing, creative events that celebrate talent, they help the economy and provide life-long experiences for individuals attending for a reasonable fee, seeing huge global acts. However, due to the mass amount of people who attend these events in a relatively small area for a short time, the impact on the environment can be huge, especially as they are weekend events where people have gained a throw-away culture in regard to one-use plastics. Due to the negative environmental impacts of these events, they have come under fire because of this and this pressure will/would only increase. Therefore, the festivals and attendees both have a responsibility to minimise the impact, for the positivity of the environment and to ensure these tremendous events continue with positive publicity

Links used

  1. For more information on ‘Comp-a-tent’ – Click here – Comp-a-tent link
  2. For more information on ‘Major UK festivals to go plastic free’ – Click here – BBC link
  3. For more information on ‘the people who pick up after you at festivals’ – Click here – NME link
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