6 Tips to Minimise Your Festival Footprint

6 Tips to Minimise Your Festival Footprint

6 Tips to Minimise Your Festival Footprint

With Glastonbury 2024 approaching on June 26th, The Eco Experts have shared six tips to inspire sustainable behaviors at this year's festivals.

1. Use Public Transport

Glastonbury is the UK's biggest music festival, attracting an annual attendance of more than 210,000 people. The festival encourages its attendees to use public transport by offering coach and train packages serving 109 locations across the UK.

Driving to Glastonbury and back produces around 68.7kg of CO2 per person. Utilising public transport significantly reduces your carbon footprint; taking a coach from London, for example, produces only 11.2kg of CO2 emissions per person for a return trip. The festival also encourages cycling with free secure bike lock-ups and designated cyclist campsites provided.

2. Don’t Leave Your Tent Behind

Each year, an estimated 250,000 tents are abandoned at festivals across the UK. Matt Wedge, Director of Festival Waste Reclamation & Distribution, stated that up to 90% of tents left at festivals end up in landfill or an incinerator, despite some festivals advertising that they donate abandoned tents to charity. 

Since the average tent is mostly made of plastic, leaving your tent behind is equivalent to littering 8,750 plastic straws or 250 pint cups. Despite popular belief, tents are reusable and can be repurposed for your next festival or camping trip. Glastonbury organisers are encouraging attendees to bring “sturdy camping equipment” that can be taken home and reused after the festival ends.

Decathlon's 'No Tent Left Behind' campaign is working to reduce tent abandonment by offering customers the opportunity to return eligible tents to Decathlon before September 13, 2024, and receive a gift card equal to the tent's price to use on their next purchase. By taking advantage of this initiative, festival-goers can help reduce waste and promote sustainability while also saving money on future outdoor adventures.

3. Use the Correct Bins

UK music festivals generate 25,800 tonnes of waste annually. To prevent littering and ensure that all waste goes to the right place, Glastonbury has an on-site recycling plant and encourages recycling and composting. It's important to use these facilities to properly dispose of your waste in the designated bins. 

Around 60% of festival litter is left behind on the final day of the event. When leaving, make sure you take all your belongings with you or throw unwanted items in the correct bins. This will make it easier for the organisers to return the land to farming use.

4. Cigarette Butts Count Too - Dispose of Them Properly!

Approximately 8,000 wheelie bins worth of litter is abandoned per UK festival, with over 40% consisting of cigarette butts, creating a significant environmental hazard. 

Cigarette butts are non-biodegradable meaning they never fully break down and instead gradually fragment into smaller pieces of plastic pollution. The harmful substances that cigarette butts contain (arsenic, lead, and nicotine) can contaminate soil and water sources leading to potential health risks for humans, wildlife and marine life. Therefore, it’s essential to properly dispose of cigarette butts (and all other waste) in the bins provided. 

5. Bring Reusable Bottles and Containers

Festival-goers in the UK collectively discard around 1.3 million food containers and over 2 million plastic bottles during the festival season. 

To avoid this, Glastonbury has banned the sale of single-use plastic bottles since 2019, reducing plastic waste by millions of units. In 2023,  the festival banned disposable vapes and only allowed compostable crisp packets. To support these initiatives, avoid bringing any single-use plastics (including vapes) and instead use reusable bottles and containers.

6. Use the Designated Toilets

Human waste contains harmful pathogens and nutrients that can disrupt the delicate balance of the ecosystem, potentially harming local flora and fauna, and even threatening endangered species. 

Proper sanitation facilities are essential for preventing the spread of diseases and maintaining public health standards. Open defecation can lead to the contamination of water sources, increasing the risk of waterborne illnesses and posing serious health hazards to both attendees and local communities.

To minimise long-term environmental damage and to protect the biodiversity of the festival grounds, use the provided urinals, longdrop toilets, and compost loos.

The Eco Experts’ Editor, Roland Ellison, comments:

“If the sun is shining, nothing beats the atmosphere of a summer festival in the UK”.

“However, while enjoying our favourite bands and DJs in some forgotten field, we mustn’t forget the impact that having tens of thousands of people herding through a small patch of countryside will have on the local environment.”

“From how you get there, to what you bring with you, and buy on site - to what you leave behind - it all plays a part.”

“Most festivals are pretty hot on sustainability these days, but festival-goers should take personal responsibility for their own carbon emissions and plastic rubbish. Challenge yourself to leave no trace for the very best in guilt-free fun.”

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Susanna Koelblin

Commercialization & Sourcing Leader Focused On Circularity

From blockchain to recycling, Susanna talks about emerging technologies and circularity topics in the fashion industry.

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