How to do Festival Season in Sustainable Style

image credit: Venecia Carswell

image credit: Venecia Carswell

Festival season is officially here! Over the next few weeks thousands of us will descend upon fields in the middle of nowhere to listen to our favourite bands, spend time with old friends, make new ones and dance the night (and the day) away. Festivals are an amazing way to unite with a bunch of soon-to-be-not strangers over a shared love of music, creativity and desire to get away from the 9-5 (if only for a few hazy days), but they also have a huge environmental impact - from the amount of plastic used during events to the carbon emissions of those travelling to and from the venue.

Thankfully, it looks like things are changing. This year Glastonbury organisers banned the sale of water, soft drinks and alcohol in single-use plastic bottles and Shambala is leading the way in finding ways to design out waste from their festival shenanigans completely. While organisers have a huge part to play, so does the ordinary festival-goer, and that’s where you come in! We’ve put some tips together to help you get through the festival season in sustainable style.

Image credit: Michelle Henderson

Image credit: Michelle Henderson

Reduce waste and cut your carbon emissions

One of the easiest ways to cut down on waste is to avoid anything that’s designed for single use. Take a reusable coffee cup and water bottle, and buy a tent that will see you through many years’ worth of festivals (or share a friend’s tent and don’t buy one at all). Over 99% of Glastonbury-goers took their tents home with them this year, a marked improvement on previous years which saw several tonnes of clothing and camping gear abandoned after the festival. Commit to leaving no trace and take all your stuff with you at the end. Recycle to the max during the event. Car share or travel by train, bus or bike and if you’re a meat-eater, try going veggie or vegan for the weekend.

Image credit: Maxime Bhm

Image credit: Maxime Bhm

Festival season is a huge money-maker for fast-fashion clothing brands, who launch new lines of clothing to help you achieve that ultimate ‘carefree-festival-goer’ look. These lines are often low-cost, low-quality and designed to be discarded when the fun’s over. Clothes use up valuable resources when being produced - polyester is a form of plastic (made using fossil fuels) and it can take up to 2,700 litres of water to grow enough cotton to make a single t-shirt. Our clothes are also a huge source of waste and pollution; the clothing industry produces more carbon emissions that the airline and maritime industry combined, and our love for ‘disposable’ fashion has resulted in the equivalent of one truckload of clothing being incinerated or sent to landfill every second. (Source: Ellen MacArthur Foundation). When it comes to doing things more sustainably this festival season, your wardrobe is a good place to start.

So, how do you get your hands on some sustainable clothes? The answer is, you already have! They’re sitting in your wardrobe. BOOOM. Wearing the clothes we already own for longer is one of the simplest and most effective ways to lower their environmental impact, so shop your wardrobe, get creative, customise, borrow or swap with friends. If that still doesn’t cut it, try buying second-hand first. And if you simply must buy something - always, always buy a good quality item that a) fits like a dream and b) you’ll want to wear over and over again. Buying a whole new wardrobe for one specific event is sooo last-festival-season.

Image credit: Aranxa Esetve

Image credit: Aranxa Esetve

All that glitters ain’t plastic

If you didn’t adorn yourself with copious amounts of glitter, did the festival even happen? Glitter is a fun addition to any festival outfit, but the bad news is that most of it is made from plastic. After you’ve scrubbed the glitter off it enters our water systems, adding to the massive problem of micro plastic pollution. Sad times for turtles and other marine-life. Not using glitter at all is the most sustainable option, but if channelling your inner unicorn is an essential part of the festival experience, EcoStardust, EcoGlitterFun and Dust and Dance all have a range of more sustainable sparkles to choose from. Oh, and when it’s time to remove all the glitz, forget the disposable face wipes and use a reusable facecloth instead. Job done.


Are you taking part in the festival season this year? What are you doing to reduce waste and be more eco-friendly? Have you seen any amazing green initiatives at the festivals you’ve visited? Share your ideas and help inspire our community!

Claire AstonComment