10 Easy Ways to Enjoy an Eco-Friendly Festival Experience - and Save Money

WAYKS Backpack worn at Summer Festival

In this article, I show you simple ways to contribute to a more sustainable festival experience. Whether you are heading to a large music event or a smaller local festival, by implementing these easy hacks you can help protect the environment and even save some money along the way.

1. Rent your tent & outfits

Reduce plastic waste by borrowing festival gear

Did you know that over 250,000 festival tents are abandoned each year in the UK alone? That's more than 900,000 kg of non-recyclable waste. With the Take Your Tent Home Campaign the Association of Independent Festivals combats the environmental impact of abandoned tents and lobbies against the sale of 'single-use' tents​.

In the UK, sports goods retailer Decathlon launched the No Tent Left Behind initiative, offering customers a full refund (gift card) for returning any of their MH100 tents after the festival.

If you don't own camping gear, ask your friends or consider renting it. Berlin-based Utopia Camping rents out refurbished camping equipment, which were previously rescued from festivals. In 2024, their rental shops will be present at several international festivals, like Roskilde, Mo:dem and ZNA Gathering and local events like splash! Melt and Zurück zu den Wurzeln, where you can conveniently pick up your tent or even have them set it up for you.

Rent your festival attire

Bold outfits are part of the festival experience, but buying new pieces each time quickly accumulates a closet full of clothes that rarely see the light of day. Consider clothes swapping with friends or renting your festival attire from platforms like Kleiderei. This promotes the circular economy and is kind to your wallet.

2. Choose green transport

Reduce your carbon footprint: leave your car at home

Visitor transportation is responsible for up to 80% of the total CO2 emissions a festival generates. Organisers have increased parking fees to encourage the use of public transportation. Many festivals now offer bus shuttles or even festival trains. By carpooling with friends or utilising shared transport of your gear, you will pay less, reduce your carbon footprint, and help minimise traffic congestion. You may even consider cycling to the event if you feel adventurous enough.

3. Respect the Ecosystem

Use the toilet, not nature

It may be convenient to pee in the bushes, but urinating in nature can cause huge damage. During Glastonbury 2014, a damaged sewage tank leaked wastewater and ammonia into a nearby river, resulting in fish deaths. A research study conducted during 2019's edition revealed alarming levels of illicit drugs in the river's water. Concentration was 104 times higher than before the festival, posing a threat to the river's rare eel populations.

Protect water ecosystems: shower before swimming

Signs at Garbicz Festival

Lake Signage at Garbicz Festival, Poland.

After dancing in the sun, it's tempting to cool off in a lake. However, using soaps, sunscreen, or chemical insect repellent in natural water reserves can harm the delicate aquatic ecosystem. By showering beforehand and using more eco-friendly "picaridin"-based insect repellents, you can take a dip without causing harm to the environment.

Store cigarette butts in a portable ashtray

Even small cigarette butts have a big environmental impact and are a fire hazard. They are made of cellulose acetate, a type of plastic that takes years to break down. One filter can contaminate up to 8 L of water. Using a portable ashtray prevents pollution and protects the environment from toxic chemicals like nicotine and heavy metals.

4. Reduce noise at campsite

Be mindful of wildlife: avoid playing loud music

Blasting out loud beats on the campsite, especially if located in a natural reserve, can negatively impact wildlife. It can disrupt birds' feeding habits and sleep patterns and even cause them to abandon their nesting sites. Instead, enjoy the great sound quality on the festival site and a peaceful sleep on the camping grounds.

5. Avoid food waste

Pack non-perishable snacks for the campground

Plant-based snacks can withstand the summer heat. Fresh fruit like watermelon, grapes, and berries provides hydration and essential vitamins after a long night of dancing. Wraps filled with hummus, avocado, fresh veggies and tofu offer a hearty meal that still tastes good on a Sunday. Nut bars and dried fruits are convenient on-the-go snacks. Mix water with oat milk powder for your morning coffee to create a creamy cappuccino.

Donate unopened food

Some festivals provide designated drop-off points where you can donate unopened, non-perishable food to local food banks. This helps reduce waste and creates a positive impact within the community.

6. Support local business

Buying from vendors offering plant-based, locally sourced food can help reduce the festival's carbon footprint. An increased demand for organic, vegan produce can also influence organisers to provide more opportunities for these businesses on the festival grounds in the future.

7. Create waste-free Camp

Bring your own reusable tableware and bottle

Single-use plastic bottles and disposable plates are still major culprits of festival waste. Bringing your own bottle and using the water refill stations is an easy step that can have a huge impact. For the campground, pack lightweight, reusable cutlery and plates made of stainless steel, bamboo, or enamel.

Encourage on-site recycling efforts

Inspire others and separate recyclable items, compostable materials, and general waste. Take a moment to study the festival's recycling initiatives. If you're unsure whether an item is recyclable, it's better to dispose of it in the regular trash bin. Contamination can undermine recycling efforts and result in all the trash ending up in landfills.

8. Make use of green energy

Leave diesel generators at home

Diesel generators not only generate noise pollution but also release harmful fumes. Studies have shown that the air quality at festivals can be worse than in busy inner-city areas. However, there is a promising solution on the horizon. Fuel cell and hydrogen (FCH) technologies offer a clean and renewable energy alternative with zero CO2 emissions and minimal noise. German Green Music Initiative is involved in the Everywh2ere Hydrogen project, which developed cell generators for testing at European festivals.

Embrace solar power for a green campsite

Avoid single-use batteries and instead use solar-powered chargers to keep your phone and technical equipment juiced up. Solar-powered string lights or these lanterns from Sonnenglas harness the sustainable energy the sun provides. It's a win-win for you and the planet and adds a magical vibe to your campsite.

9. Choose plastic-free toiletries

Swap disposable wet wipes for solid soaps

Disposable wet wipes are convenient but contain plastic and can clog toilets. Instead, choose compact and travel-friendly solid soaps.
'For DIY wipes, cut up an old T-shirt and soak fabric squares in a solution of boiling water, aloe vera, witch hazel, Castille soap, and essential oils. Too much effort? Then 'biodegradable' wet wipes made from cellulose may be an alternative. Always dispose of these wipes correctly and never flush them down the toilet (they require specific conditions to break down, which are not typically found in sewers.)

Sparkle sustainably with eco-friendly glitter and confetti

Confetti and glitter usually contain microplastics, which have harmful effects on ecosystems. Fortunately, there are eco-friendly alternatives available! Bioglitter™ is biodegradable and certified microplastic-free.
Compostable confetti made from natural materials provides a sustainable way to add sparkle to your festival experience. One of our personal favourites is the seed confetti from Saatgutkonfetti, which contains the seeds of 23+ native wild plant species. So instead of leaving waste, you create a new habitat for bees.  

10. Leave no trace

Take your tent home

When the festival comes to an end, leave your campsite clean and trace-free. It should be a no-brainer, but no matter how tired you may feel after the long weekend, please take your tent with you. A single tent, on average, contains non-recyclable plastic equivalent to 8,750 straws or 250 pint-sized cups.

Remove all tent pegs

Camping grounds are often located on farmland or fields. Remember to remove all tent pegs from the ground. They are often overlooked, but can harm grazing animals, like cattle and wildlife.

By following these easy, eco-friendly festival practices, you can have an unforgettable time dancing the night away while minimising your environmental impact.

Do you have more suggestions?
Share your hacks for greener festivals in the comments below, and let's create positive change together.



1 comment

  • Bunkerintegrated

    Thank you for these insightful tips! Making eco-friendly choices at festivals is crucial, and your suggestions make it accessible for everyone.

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