Festival Season is upon us. Are you heading to one this summer? Festivals are the best, a time to be carefree, dance the day away and surround yourself with great friends, making memories to last a lifetime. It was also really important for me to be environmentally aware while having fun, and the challenge was fun. So here is my ultimate eco festival guide for you.
I finally went to my first ever full weekend festival. The opportunity never really came my way in my younger years. I had a lot of commitments, working, dancing, and to be honest sometimes I found the idea a little intimidating. I look back now and think that that is a shame, but I was happy enough with that at the time and as a result, I have really appreciated all of the experiences I’ve had in my adult life.
Wilderness Festival could not have been a better experience. Based in Cornbury Park, in Oxfordshire, it is an absolute joy of a festival to attend, filled with a range of music and events.
Having been to many day festivals and gigs in the past, I was all too aware of the mountains of plastic waste left littering the fields for someone else to pick up. Whenever a large group of people get together to drink, dance and be merry this always seems to be the case. What if it doesn’t have to be this way? Today I’m talking about how we can minimise our waste while having lots of fun at a festival. No party poopers here. We thought it might be useful to share our experience, so we can all be the best festival goers.
Reusables Are Key.
Don’t even think of attending a festival without your reusable water bottle. I tend never to leave the house without my trusty water bottle anymore, you never know when a raging thirst will strike, but trust me, at a festival, you don’t want to be without one. Long days in the sun, singing, dancing, and generally running around fields like an excited child requires hydration, and normally festivals charge an arm and a leg to buy a bottle of water. Sometimes they don’t have water at all. One less water bottle put in the trash is a bonus, and all festivals have free refill points. Free water means, less time spent queuing and more money for beer. Simple.
who owns handkerchiefs these days I hear you say, apart from your Dad? The answer is, all the cool festival goers. Very handy for all situations. Did someone throw some curious liquid into the crowd, need to blow your nose because of hayfever attacks, or maybe your fingers are just sticky form those Halloumi fries? Hanky to the rescue. Thanks, Dad. Hand sanitizer is also always a good idea.
Camping cutlery is great, luckily we had a couple of sets from our travels around California. It is super trusty and won’t break halfway through eating and just generally feel nicer to eat with. One of the joys of festivals there is normally a lot of food options you can eat with your hands, but I liked having them ready when I wanted to look almost civilised.
Coffee or tea, if you are that way inclined, are pretty essential at festivals, the morning after the night before is greatly improved with caffeine. Take your Keep Cup or whatever cute reusable cup you own, they are lovely. You will get added bonus points if it matches your outfit.
You can up the ante by taking a reusable container for your food and kindly ask the server to put your food in there instead, they will all oblige. Some festivals use compostable food trays now, but why not give it a go. These kinds of actions normally start conversations.
Food Glorious Food.
I strongly recommend this. We found it super helpful to carry some around in my bag in case we got peckish, which we did. Things like dried fruits and nuts. We always try to save waste and money, you can end up spending a small fortune at festivals on food, so snacks are essential for minimalising unnecessary expenditure. Put them in small trusty Tupperware boxes ready for times of need. We also took BBQ Chickpeas, homemade protein bites and dates. YUM.
The more food you can take the better. I made a big beautiful Banana Bread a couple of days before we went, it lasts for a while and was just so yummy. We shared it with our friends, it makes for a yummy breakfast pick me up, it also worked a treat as a tipsy bedtime snack, soaking up some of the alcohol, from what I remember. We also had friends who brought a little stove and some cooking utensils, so we made our own lunches before heading into the festival for the day.
Festival food is usually damn fine. There are so many different cuisines to try, often spoilt for choice. Modern festivals have so many yummy veggie and vegan options, we tried to eat veggie the majority of the time, and had some cracking vegan taco’s. We are not perfect, I will not deny the temptation for a burger hit me hard one day.
Who doesn’t love wearing glitter to a festival? At wilderness the glitter game was high, men, women, children, no one was left out. I knew I wanted to use Biodegradable Glitter so I made sure I bought some the week before. I felt very proud to be wearing it. (Check out our post from last year about glitter)
Since last year over 60 UK festivals have pledged to ban plastic glitter by 2021. Glitter is being treated as a single-use plastic, seen in the same light as plastic straws and carrier bags. Made up of tiny bits of coloured plastic, glitter takes hundreds of years to biodegrade, and much like microbeads can negatively impact the environment, marine life and our health. There are so many biodegradable glitter options around now there really is no excuse. #GlitterWithoutTheLitter
Tell me if I sound about 90 years old, maybe it is just me but I can not stand feeling uncomfortable, especially at festivals. Festivals are about letting loose and not giving a damn. I can only live my best life when I am comfy. Wearing something you already own, that is tried and tested, is a good way to ensure your comfort levels are high. Showers are not always easy to come by at festivals which means, it is a no to polyester in the hight of summer from me. Festivals can get sweaty, to say the least, if you are doing them right, breathable natural fabrics are your friend.
Jazzing up pieces you already own is really fun, throw together some outfits you wouldn’t normally put together, try bold lipsticks, don’t be afraid to be bigger than your everyday self. I made some DIY pom-pom hair grips and felt bloody fantastic, and added some safety pins to my favourite denim waistcoat. It just added that extra something. Turns out the pins came in really handy too.
I find being true to my own style even at festivals serves me well, it can be tempting to wear head to toe sequins, but to be honest that really is not me. There is a definite festival girl look emerging these days. No-one wants to just look like everyone else and I think you enjoy yourself much more when you are channelling your own authentic self. Don’t feel pressurised into buying a whole new wardrobe for three days. Aren’t festivals supposed to be about not giving too much of a damn for a few days, anyway?
If you do need a few more bits to look and feel like your best self, try rummaging around a few thrift stores, normally they have great prints or worn in shorts, chances are you will probably find something fun that no one else will have. Alternatively, you could always ask to borrow something your friend owns that you have been lusting after for a while, saving yourself some time and money.
Coming and Going.
We had a great time carpooling, we rented a car with friends, squidged ourselves and everything into the car and off we went on our adventure.
Take Tents Home.
Whatever you brought with you, take it home! Have a leave without a trace policy. I was so shocked when I heard a lot of festival goers just leave their tents behind when the festival is over. We actually borrowed our tent from a very generous friend of a friend, which we were really grateful for as it saved us from having to buy one. Take care of your tents so you can use them again and again, it saves money in the future and it is just good etiquette.
Apparently, waste management is included in the price of each ticket, so who knows, maybe if we all try to create a bit less mess the price could go down? Is that too much like wishful thinking? It would be a nice incentive though, wouldn’t it?
Finally, during research for this post, I found out that organisers of more than 60 independent festivals across the UK have committed to banning the use of plastic straws on-site as a minimum first step and eliminating all single-use plastic at their events by 2021 in the Association of Independent Festivals’ new Drastic on Plastic initiative.
Co-founder of Bestival said: “Unless you’ve been living on the moon, you’ll know the plastic problem is not going away. We will be leading the global charge against essentially unnecessary plastic at all our festivals.”
Recycling is important, but it is far from the solution. There are loads of inventive ways that festivals can design out disposable plastics and inspire festival-goers to embrace sustainable practices.
Often festivals are based in beautiful green landscapes, it just makes sense to take care of nature and take care of our surroundings. Essentially the free-spirited nature of festivals helps to inspire change in people and be optimistic, so we need to start reflecting that in our behaviour. Taking the steps to collectively create the new normal at big events, a better normal. It feels really great to have a go and was really easy!
Hope you found our eco-festival guide helpful! Let us know your experiences at festivals and your best tips. What is your favourite festival for letting loose?
Love, Lottie xx