Going to a festival? Go plastic-free

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 10 August 2018

There are hundreds of festivals during the summer across the UK. From the big guns like Creamfields and Reading and Leeds to more niche events like Lakefest and Green Man. This year many are trying to reduce their plastic footprint by banning straws or providing re-usable cups. You can do your bit too by planning ahead. Clare Fischer has been investigating how to have a plastic free festival.

Festival plastic

If you’re heading to a festival over the next couple of weeks, try and make it a plastic-free experience. Living in a tent for a few nights may seem like an impossible task without our favourite throwaway product…but if do a bit of planning you can reduce your plastic footprint and have a more environmentally friendly festival experience.

It you’re ‘of an age’ you may have been to Woodstock. Or at least seen the movie documenting what happened in 1969 when 500,000 people descended on a field outside a town in upstate New York. At the end of the film the camera pans around and guess what?? Back then, like now, a sea of litter went on for miles. Most of it drinks bottles and cans. Funny how very little has changed in almost 50 years. The good news now is though, we’re all really trying to make a difference – especially when we’re out and about.

So festival top tip – take your own water bottle with you and your own re-usable coffee cup. There are so many great designs around these days …and water bottles come in various sizes too depending on your thirst! You may be asked to empty you water bottles when you arrive – but find the nearest tap and just keep on filling it up! Check out our bottles and coffee cups at the MCS online shop.

chillys water bottle

Glasto is taking a break this year but says it will implement a site-wide ban on plastic bottles when it returns in 2019. Lots of festivals are making similar moves from providing reusable pint glasses that you pay a deposit for at the start and get it back at the end (or you can take it home as a memento as most are branded) and many are banning plastic straws.

Festival tip – keep fresh without plastic

Personal hygiene can go out the window when you’re dashing to see various bands in between trips to the bar. But you can keep fresh - and without plastic.

Swap that handy pack of wet wipes (which can’t be flushed and could contain plastic) for a flannel and water (A flannel is a sort of cloth thing that we used in the olden days. You wet it. Wipe. Rinse, Wring. Use again!!). Also ace for putting on your forehead to keep cool or ease that banging headache after one band too many.

Why not treat your pits to some plastic free deodorants? They come in a tin, have antiperspirant properties and you pop it on with your fingers. You can re-use the tin of course. Maybe for baccy.

Eco deodorant

No festival experience would be complete without heaps of selfies to keep your social media chums up to speed. Keep your teeth as gleaming white as the Love Islanders with a bamboo brush - none of your plastic travel rubbish - and powdered toothpaste that comes in a tin or a glass jar. Both available from our shop! But there are loads of varieties on the net. You can even make your own toothpaste! There’s a recipe in the MCS book “How to Live Plastic Free”.

Don’t leave your living accommodation behind

You may start your festival experience with a tent and a sleeping bag…..but will you end it with them? Tents and bags are dirt cheap and after a few nights in a field you may not want to use them again. Fair enough – but instead of taking them home to dispose of many people just leave them where they pitched them. Apparently 20,000 were left behind at Glastonbury one year! These pop up tents contain quite a bit of plastic and the next stop is landfill.

But now you can buy an eco-tent made of weatherproof cardboard which can be left behind and then sent off for recycling.

Eat your heart out

The polystyrene food container used to be the festival goers best friend. But polystyrene is a nightmare product as it breaks down and down into tinier and tinier pieces and along with teeny weeny plastic bits is the most found item when we do our beach cleans.

Caterers at festivals are now wising up and many serve food in cardboard containers. You can go one step further by saying no to plastic cutlery and purchasing wooden travel knives, forks and spoons that can be used again and again and some come in nice little wrap for safe keeping in your rucky or the back pocket of your jeans. Or you could use your fingers. After all, you’re at a festival.