Tips for plastic-free festivals

Press release
There used to be one rule: don’t take anything you’re not prepared to lose or damage, but 2019 festivals are all about getting drastic on plastic.
  Published:  24 Jun 2019    |      2 minute read

If summer is finally here it means its festival season: great music, good times, and so much waste if campers aren’t a bit careful. More and more festivals are making efforts to reduce the needless pollution from disposable plastic, so let’s help them. And while going plastic-free in a field is a challenge, a huge amount of senseless waste can be stopped this summer with a little bit of planning.

Friends of the Earth has pulled together top tips on swapping single-use plastic waste with some easy festival alternatives:

  1. Do better than a single-use cup. The choice has never been wider, invest in a reusable cup for coffee on site, and it makes a surprisingly useful additional packing receptacle.
  2. Make your own wet wipes. Everyone is aware of fatbergs, and the fact that so few wet wipes are plastic-free. Take a good old flannel or consider making your own wipes: soak squares of fabric - an old t-shirt fits the bill nicely - in boiling water, aloe vera, witch hazel, castile soap and essential oil. These will last the whole weekend in a sealable lunchbox and can be washed and reused.
  3. Eco-friendly sparkle. Join everyone else and discover eco glitter, made from plant cellulose and a small amount of aluminium - this biodegradable alternative is a better choice.
  4. Avoid plastic ponchos. Inevitably, rain is part of the festival experience. Rather than a flimsy, plastic poncho that you’ll chuck away, invest in a proper waterproof cagoule or pack-a-mac that will be serve you for years to come.
  5. Bring a bottle. Staying hydrated at a festival is undeniably important. The convenience of a plastic bottle can be tempting but you can avoid a huge amount of plastic pollution by bringing a reusable bottle along to fill up at water points. Site staff may ask you to empty a bottle before bringing it on site though.
  6. Invest in a bamboo cutlery set: Just imagine how many items of disposable cutlery a festival gets through – they all have to go somewhere even if many are biodegradable. If you really don't want to shell out, just take normal cutlery from home.
  7. Toiletries: It’s really easy to buy bars of hard shampoo that either come in re-usable cases or that can easily be stored in one – they can usually double-up as body wash, saving on plastic containers that are often not recyclable.
  8. Tents: It is estimated that a quarter of a million tents [1] are left at music festivals across the UK every year, amounting to 900 tonnes of plastic waste going into landfill. A tent is for life, not just for a weekend. #justtakeithome

From cups to glitter to tents, attitudes towards a disposable society are changing. Emma Priestland, a Friends of the Earth plastics campaigner and festival attender, said:

“The message has been heard loud and clear and new standards are being set all the time – from now on, we should be aiming for waste-free festivals.

“In the meantime, anyone who wants to swap single-use items for more durable examples are contributing towards a sea-change: both in our collective attitudes but also by reducing the volumes of junk that otherwise goes to landfill.”