At the end of a long weekend watching your favourite bands, making friends and doing weird and wonderful activities, you’re pretty tired and you have a long journey home. It’s raining, your tent is soggy and it just won’t fit into that tiny bag! So, you just leave it behind. Someone else might want it, right? Right?
Well, unfortunately not. Every year thousands of tents are left behind at festivals, hundreds of tonnes of waste are sent to landfill, including those stick-on gems that dropped off one-by-one on Saturday night and those silly glasses you bought for £1 which a friend dropped and trampled into the mud. But don’t worry, there are some easy ways to improve your festival footprint.
Buy quality products you will reuse.
If you regularly attend festivals, invest in a decent tent and camping gear that will last several years. The Love Your Tent campaign encourages festival goers to bond with their portable homes, and encourage them to re-use instead of discard. Working with Love Your Tent, the Isle of Wight Festival offers a luxury camping field with showers, toilets, a private café, a pamper parlour and a secret stage to campers who agree to leave no litter and take everything else home with them when they leave.
Attend festivals that are conscious about their impact.
Some festivals, including Acoustic Festival and Larmer Tree Festival, attempt to limit their environmental impact by recycling all of the waste produced on site. Others, such as Limetree Festival are going plastic-free this year.
A Greener Festival Awards assess festivals according to their impact and commitment to the protection of local areas and ecosystems, their impact on travel and transport, the forms of power used, waste management and recycling policies, amongst other criteria. This list of previous winners may give you some inspiration which festivals to choose this summer!
Separate your waste.
If there are recycling bins, use them. If not, take a bin bag with you and take some of your recycling home.
Travel with friends.
We’re no stranger to long lines of queues to get into a festival. Look into car sharing or the public transport options available to you. The festival or local authorities often arrange these to help you get to and from the festival safely and in a greener way.
Take your own.
There are so many simple ways to avoid single-use products that don’t take up valuable space in your bag.
- Take your own cutlery to avoid using a disposable set every day for lunch and dinner.
- Having your own water bottle will remind you to stay hydrated across the weekend!
- Take your own coffee cup for your morning brew.
Leave No Trace
One of the ten principles of Burning Man is to leave no trace. Everyone attending the festival is asked to clean up their own camp (down to the granular level), plus spend two hours scouring the open space of the city before departing (burningman.org). Whilst not everybody at your festival might behave in this way, you can make sure that you leave no trace.
- Think about what you actually need to bring.
- Remove any excess packaging before leave home.
- Bin all your litter throughout the festival.
- Take bags with you so your litter doesn’t blow away.
- Ensure your campsite is litter free, including any small items animals might end up eating.
- Take a look at the area around your campsite before you and pick up any litter you see lying about. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t leave it there.
There are numerous charities which send tents to refugees, but don’t think that leaving your tent, sleeping bag or picnic chairs behind means they will find their way to someone in need. Matt Wedge, director of Festival Waste Reclamation & Distribution, a charity diverting usable “waste” from the incinerator and landfill, towards those who need it most, explains “There is a common misconception that leaving your tent is like making a donation. It’s simply not the case.” Whilst volunteers gather as much as they can for the homeless and refugees in Calais and Dunkirk, up to 90 per cent is left behind. (FWRD)
If you do buy something just for a festival, like an item of clothing for a costume take it home with you and donate it to a charity shop! Realistically, you have more space in your bag at the end of the weekend once you’ve eaten all your snacks anyway! If you have the space to take it with you, you have the space to bring it home.
Check out our list of British made festival essentials here!