How to have a plastic-free festival

From cups to glitter to tents, attitudes towards a disposable society are changing. Read our top tips for a plastic-free festival.

From DIY wet wipes to eco-friendly glitter, there are plenty of ways to go plastic free at this summer’s festivals with just a little extra planning.

Almost a quarter of a million tents are estimated to be left behind after music festivals across the UK every year, while plastic ponchos, cutlery and water bottles also add to the litter. While some festivals are acting to reduce plastic through new rules, Glastonbury will not be selling plastic water bottles at this year’s festival to encourage refillable options, there are some swaps that an individual can make to help tackle the plastic problem at festivals.

“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,” said Friends of the Earth plastics campaigner, Emma Priestland.

“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 volumes of junk that otherwise goes to landfill.”

Friends of the Earth’s tips for a plastic-free festival: 

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.

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.

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.

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.

Bring a bottle. 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.

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.

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.

Tents. It is estimated that a quarter of a million tents 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.


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