Nine ways to have a greener festival experience


Festival rubbish

With festival season on the way, the more eco-minded of music lovers will be wondering how to cut down the impact on the environment of all that travelling, camping and partying. Here are some tips for a greener festival experience.

1. Car share

Before your festival even starts you’ve got to get there. Thousands of people converging on the same spot has a huge carbon footprint. You can reduce yours by sharing a lift with others. Splitting petrol costs should mean it’s cheaper and more convenient than public transport, too.

2. Cycle

Better still, cycle to your festival. This assumes you are relatively close to your destination, which might limit you to smaller, more local events. Depending on what you’re looking for from the experience, though, this is no bad thing. The big festivals can have a massive impact on the environment, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense if you save a few kilos of CO2 on your journey if the bands you’re endorsing have spent several thousands tonnes flying there.

3. Donate your unwanted tent

If you’re an infrequent festival-goer you might have picked up a cheap tent on the grounds that you’ll only use it once and can then chuck it. 30,000 people did just that at last year’s V Festival alone – representing a lot of plastic left behind on the site that ended up in landfill. If you really don’t want your tent any more, donate it to Oxfam or the Red Cross – these charities use them for emergency shelter in their disaster relief efforts.

4. Use biodegradable pegs

Make sure you pull out as many of your tent pegs as you can when you leave, though it’s not always possible to get them all. Biodegradable pegs are much safer for cows (which can eat them without harm) and will eventually break down without incident.

5. Use the toilets

Some festivals have a bad reputation for sanitation, though improvements have been made over the past few years. Use the toilets wherever you can; tens of thousands of people nipping round the back of their tents has a cumulative effect that isn’t good for the ground or your fellow campers.

6. Buy biodegradable bin bags

Don’t leave your rubbish for someone else to pick up afterwards (or not – some festival sites are unusable for months afterwards), and use biodegradable bin bags to minimise the effect on the environment.

7. Try a bio-fuel burner

Biomass – sticks, leaves, etc – is the best fuel, but most festivals won’t allow open fires (disposable barbecues are a really bad idea in terms of both financial and environmental cost). However, you can buy bio-fuel burners that generate electricity as well as being useful for cooking, so you can power lights or keep your smartphone charged. A Ghillie Kettle is another great way to use natural fuel, and the clever design means they can be used even if it’s wet or windy; the fire is lit in the central cylinder and the water boils in a compartment around it.

8. Camp, don’t take a motorhome

The mod cons of a camper van might be nice but they come at a cost to the environment. If you can’t feel the earth under you it’s cheating anyway.

9. Use solar-powered lanterns

A good solar light is a better investment than a cheap torch that will end up in the bin, along with its batteries, within a week. More broadly, consumerism is the enemy of the green camper. There are so many cheap and disposable products on offer to make your short stay at a festival more comfortable: resist the urge to buy anything you don’t need, and make sure what you do buy is good quality and reusable.

Got any other tips for having a greener festival? Please comment below…