It's looking like another huge year for music festivals in the UK and, as always, this summer will see an influx of campers hitting the meadows of Glastonbury, the Isle of Wight, Reading, Leeds and many more, for nights of music from the nation's favourite bands. And what better way to spend your weekend? Screaming away to a song you love, being played right in front of you, is an unbeatable experience (it doesn't matter that you're out of tune when everyone else is as well).
The festival aftermath, however, can be an altogether different story. Muddy, littler-strewn meadows with abandoned tents is never a good look and every year we hear reports of festival mess and mass clean-up operations. Thankfully, as awareness of the issue grows, more and more enterprises are springing up to encourage festivals to stay clean, stay green and reduce their use of single use plastics. We've been talking to one such group, Love Festivals Hate Plastic, for their advice on how to go plastic-free this festival season.
If there's one place to go all out for glittering up, festivals are the place to do it. The bad news is that conventional festival glitter has plastic in it; containing many tiny pieces of Polyethylene terephthalate or PET. PET is one of the most common forms of plastic around today and contributes heavily to microplastic pollution in our oceans. Fortunately, the recent invention of biodegradable glitter can save your festival bacon. Biodegradable glitter is completely plastic free, and is made from cellulose (a renewable organic compound). As well as being plastic free, biodegradable glitter is GMO free and allergen free too, so if you've got sensitive skin it's also a particularly good option.
2) .... And take a reusable makeup cloth
After the biodegradable-glittering-up has finished, you will want to get that lovely glittery mess off your face. The common method is to use baby wipes to clear your skin of glitter and makeup, but wipes have their problems. The most talked about consequence of flushing away wipes are the now infamous 'fatbergs' – mountains of wet wipes and other greasy components that are blocking our sewage systems. Today there are loads of reusable flannels available. You can follow instructions from this handy blog on how to remove glitter using coconut oil and a damp flannel. Once you start you'll find it's an incredibly easy alternative to single-use wipes.
3) Don't leave your tent behind
It may sound like common sense, yet every year, you'll come across grim pictures of thousands of tents being left at festival campsites. Many of these tents will end up in landfill. It's one of the key reasons that Love Festivals Hate Plastic was started. If you're thinking of buying a cheap tent and leaving it at a festival, the simple first step is to think about the impact. It's always worth investing in a good tent rather than a cheap one, so that you can use it for other camping trips during the year and, while many festival goers assume that a charity will take tents left behind, this is actually much less common then you might expect.
If for whatever reason you think you might not bring your tent home after the weekend has finished, there are a few other options that you could consider. Stay at a hostel or nearby accommodation (guaranteed shower in the morning). Go glamping (there are some amazing options out there). Use a pre-pitched tent service (usually much cheaper than festival glamping).
4) Bring a flask or reuseable water bottle
If you're in the sun all day, in mosh pits for hours at a time and, yes, drinking a lot, you can get dehydrated very quickly. When you're on the move, cups might not be that practical (especially if you're in a pit) and, with over 22 billion plastic bottles thrown away every year, its important to avoid simply resorting to single-use bottled water. So what's the other option? Flasks, keep-cups and re-useable bottles. Being able to hold both hot and cold drinks, flasks and insulated bottles, such as Chilly's bottles, are great for roaming the festival site. Most festivals now have a series of drinking water stations where you can refill with water (look for big H2O signs). Made predominantly from aluminium, flasks have a much higher recycling rate than that of a plastic bottle made from PET.
5) Choose your food stall wisely
Festivals are a great place for trying delicious and interesting food. The range of food stalls on offer is huge and is increasingly catering for the vegetarian and vegan festival goers among us. No matter what you eat, it's always worth considering what packaging the festival stalls are using. With many festivals now completely banning plastic at festivals from traders, our job as consumers has been made much easier. If you see excessive packaging that is unnecessary, and will probably end up in landfill, you have the power not to choose that vendor. It sounds like such a small thing, but when you consider the amount of people at a festival who could be doing the same, you have a lot of power in your choices. So, when there's plenty of choice, follow a simple rule. If there's unnecessary plastic packaging, chose something else.
6) Bring a raincoat or switch to biodegradable ponchos
A staple of the festival look is the age old classic: The poncho. Great for still showing off your outfit even when it's raining, transparent plastic ponchos are seen at festivals all season long. These are commonly made from Polyethylene, or PE, which is used as the main material in many single use festival ponchos. The easiest alternative is to take a compact raincoat that can be stuffed down to a small size and fits inside your pocket. If you're desperate for something disposable and poncho-like, however, there are still environmentally friendly options. The first thing we suggest is not littering, and attempting to use an onsite recycling bin if the poncho is labelled recyclable. You can also buy biodegradable ponchos. Biodegradable ponchos are made from cornstarch, a renewable and sustainable material. While they're compostable at home, in the right conditions, Love Festivals Hate Plastic also provide a free post-back scheme where you can send your used compostable goods back. When you use this free scheme, they guarantee all returned compostable goods will be fully composted, with zero waste going to landfill.