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It’s time for festivals to become more eco-friendly

While large events and festivals focus on their attendees having a good time, many do not make greening and the environment a priority. While adding to the local economy is a positive result, creating a sustainable environment for years to come is crucial. The amount of waste, electricity usage, land damage and CO2 emissions is huge.

There is an opportunity for all kinds of events, day parties and all-weekend festivals to make a positive difference and set an example for their attendees and smaller events. Festivals need to make sure they work towards sustainability and encourage greener behaviour after the event.

Festivals provide the perfect testing grounds for ecological changes that could be applied to cities and countries on a larger scale.


Festivals are associated with a few environmental concerns including traffic congestion on roads, parking problems within festival grounds and pollution from travelling long distances. Attendees should be encouraged to share transport, festivals can provide shuttles or buses, implement a car levy on entry and donate to charities.


One method is reducing waste is by implementing a refundable tax system on entry. Each festival attendee pays a small amount on entry in exchange for a rubbish bag. When they leave the festival, the full rubbish bag is handed in and the money is given back.


Single-use plastics should be banned from the bar and food area at festivals. Plastic water bottles and paper plates are a common source of rubbish. Food vendors should be required to serve food using biodegradable wrappers, plates and cutlery.


Stainless steel or reusable cups provide a solution to banning single-use plastic while increasing the profits of your event. Offering discounts at the bar using a stainless steel or reusable cup will provide additional incentive too. Some attendees might not like the initial investment, but they become much more aware by holding on to the cup.


Cigarette butts take up to 10 years to decompose and account for a significant amount of litter at festivals. Since the butts are so small, they are often hard to locate. Portable ashtrays provide a convenient way for attendees to encourage not dropping their butts.


Many festival stages are made from cheap materials and often used only once – just for a single day or weekend. It’s time for festivals to collaborate so that the same basic stage design can be implemented and re-used, which also decreases the costs for everyone. Convert wood into chairs and tables so they can be reused again.


There are a number of environmental NGOs around the world who are knowledgeable and will provide a ton of insight into making your event greener. An audit of your process by a third-party organization might help you look at some new ways to make your festival greener.


Most events run generators in order to power stage, lighting and stalls. Biodiesel, derived from plants like corn and animal fats, plus recycled grease, is more sustainable than diesel made from petroleum. Solar panels can also be used to supplement biodiesel generators, although you won’t be able to run an entire festival off solar panels.


Did you know that more than 1 million tents are abandoned at European festivals every year? Each tent is equivalent to 9000 plastic straws which adds up to a staggering amount of plastic waste. Attendees should be encouraged to make use of tent services or make sure to take their tent home.


At Boom Festival, 40% of all waste produced was recycled or used to produce organic compost, while all the utensils used were biodegradable. This lead to Boom receiving the “Outstanding Greener Festival Award 2018” earlier this year, alongside 7 other festivals. Since 2005, they have planted 720 new trees through the ‘Boomland’ reforestation program.

Live Nation has announced that its global sustainability coalition Green Nation is committing to new environmental goals for all of its owned and operated venues and festivals. Among those goals are reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030 and eliminating the sale of single-use plastics at all owned and operated venues and festivals by 2021.

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has committed to banning single-use plastic from their events by 2021 and has created the Drastic on Plastic initiative to outlaw supplies such as plastic drinks bottles, cable ties and plastic toiletries bottles from festival sites. The intention to increase sustainability at festivals has now put glitter squarely in the firing line.

Glastonbury have banned single use plastic. In 2019, Sir David Attenborough took to the stage, “This great festival has gone plastic-free,” he said. “That is more than a million bottles of water that have not been drunk by you. Thank you.”

Other events like Gottwood, Terraforma and Meadows In The Mountains, more and more festivals are testing out new methods of sustainability, in some cases winning awards for them. It’s an encouraging sign of how dance music can play a positive role in the world’s response to the climate crisis.

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