MAKING LESS IMPACT
So UK festival season is well and truly finished. It started back in June and usually continues on until roughly end of September. Say goodbye to your wellies and sequins for a while. Time to let our bodies recover before we start binging our way through the festive period. However with Glasto tickets going on sale soon it will be upon us again. Hope you’re all registered.
It’s pretty well known that events and festivals are an environmental nightmare. As well as the fact that they inevitably end up ruining the grass, the amount of waste and emissions that come from them are colossal. I love a good festival as much as the next person. I adore camping and the feeling of being warm, drunk and waiting for your favourite artist to come out on stage while surrounded by your closest friends. It actually gives me chills.
This year at boomtown was the first time I have really noticed a festival make some environmental changes to help reduce its impact on our planet. I’m not saying that no other festivals make any effort to reduce their impact, I’m just saying I noticed it this year more than before. The majority of festivals run coaches from all over the country which of course is one step. Some of them have fallow years to allow the ground to heal, some have composting toilets to use our personal waste to help heal the ground afterwards, but alas this really isn’t enough.
This year Boomtown made an effort in a few different ways. Not only were there loads more bins on site but there was also the option for recycling. People are lazy, and so to make it easier instead of having 5 different bins for all the different items that can be recycled, they had one general waste and then one for plastic, metal, paper and card meaning that it was an easy decision for people to make, even when they are inebriated and if they continued to lump it all in one bin then realistically they are just a bit of a knob as the choice couldn’t be any easier.
Along with that I wasn’t given a single piece of plastic cutlery or food containers through the entire festival which really made me happy. If you’ve attended Boomtown you’ll know the story behind it and all the work that goes in. If you don’t you can look it up but, in short, each year’s theme and story follows on from the last. This year at the end of the festival, Boomtown flashed up a very important message about how much rubbish is left behind at the end of the festival and it genuinely broke my heart.
The message gave us some stats that really were shocking.
Out of 65,000 attendees, 20,000 tents are left behind which along with everything else equates to 200 tonnes of camping equipment. If they are the stats of a festival of only 65,000 people, my head hurts to think what it would be for a festival of 175,000 people such as Glastonbury. When Reading and Leeds festival finished arial images of the camping fields were released. I know the mess left behind by festivals is awful but it still hurt to see it so blatantly.
Festivals are on a huge scale of course but there are hundreds of smaller events that are just as bad. Events like Pride, Carnival and sporting events like the London marathon leave an unreal amount of litter in the streets, not only cups, cans and bottles from drinks but food containers and disposable cutlery. I understand that humans are lazy and like ease and convenience but believe me when I say none of the steps you can take to make less environmental impact will take away that convenience. All of these events are wonderful celebrations and I’m not in any way saying they shouldn’t happen. I just want people to enjoy them while being a little more eco conscious. So here are some of my top tips on making your personal festival or event experience a
little more earth friendly.
The big one really is take all your stuff home with you. It really isn’t that hard to pack up your gear, take it away and use it another day. A huge proportion of the stuff that you leave behind ends up in landfill. With camping equipment getting cheaper each year it is just falling in line with the whole disposable lifestyle that we live these days but really if you put a little bit of money into a decent tent you can use it for a good few years. My tent cost £50 and has attended 6 festivals with me alone, so that works out at £8.33 a festival for the times I’ve used it. I've also lent it to other people for festivals and it’s still going strong. So if you are an avid festival goer then forking out for a decent one really does work out cheaper than buying a new one each year. That is only tents though LOOOOOOADS of other equipment gets leftover as well, including chairs, sleeping bags, sleeping mats and air mattresses.
Packing it up and carrying it home really can seem like a pain in the butt when you’re hungover and crashing the morning after a festival but in reality it saves you having to find another one and forking our again next year. If your stuff is unfortunate enough to get broken while you are at the festival then it can seem like a huge effort to cart it home, however there are companies that can recycle it for you so not all hope is lost. Plus you’ll be doing the planet a huge favour.
Think reusable. Reusable drinks bottle, reusable cutlery, reusable Tupperware. Most people these days carry day bags around with them while they are at a festival or event and so carrying a few extras in there really shouldn’t be an issue. You can get small reusable cutlery sets online for next to nothing. They slip perfectly in your bag and stop you from having to use ‘disposable’ plastic cutlery when you buy food. I keep mine in my bag everyday so carrying it with me isn’t anything new, but it literally took up no room and stopped me from having to make so much waste.
Reusable cups are also a bit of a godsend if you’re trying to reduce your waste. I use one that I got from a festival a few years ago. Love Saves the Day here in Bristol does a deposit scheme where you pay £1 on top of the cost of your drink and then when you return with the cup they will charge you £1 less or give you your pound back if you’re not buying another drink. This obviously makes you hang on to your cup, but it also means that anyone that returns a cup gets a pound so it is the perfect incentive for people to collect the cups that have been discarded as you can end up getting a fair bit of cash back. We missed the last cut off for the deposit one year so we have a few cups kicking about the flat but they come in super handy when we go to a festival/event as we can just use those. I suppose any cup will do but if you don't have one that isn't breakable you can buy metal pint cups online for about £5 which I have not tried myself but have heard good things. And hey, reducing your plastic use can never be a bad thing can it?
The third reusable item that I swear by at festivals are ….. you got it, REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE. They literally cost about £5 and can save you stupid amounts of money in plastic bottled water. Staying hydrated at festivals is key because you are tired, drinking, in the sun and more often than not exerting a lot more energy than your body is used to. Take a bottle and fill it at a bar, or the taps, and keep yourself going strong.
The last reusable item that is worth taking with you is reusable Tupperware. This one I understand could be a faff but it really doesn’t have to be. It takes up no room and weighs absolutely nothing. Most food places wont bat an eyelid when you ask to use your own box, but even if they do just tell them you’re saving the planet.
Now this one is super simple. I love glitter, nothing can be bad if it adds a little sparkle and colour to our lives. Unfortunately though glitter is literally just micro plastic and we all know how bad micro plastics can be for the environment. Fear not. There are now loads of companies that make biodegradable glitter. Of course not using it at all would be better but wheres the fun in that right. Google biodegradable glitter and you are faced with loads of companies offering you glitter made from earth friendly materials such as eucalyptus tree extract.
So it really isn’t that hard to look after the planet even when you’re enjoying yourselves. Simple things, like using the bins provided, really can make things better for the environment. Also you'll be surprised at how much of an effect going for a wee in the bushes can have. Urine itself is sterile however is does contain ammonia and can be acidic. Some plants love acidic soil but for others, urine can burn their roots due to high nitrogen content. Plus its gross, it takes to seconds to find a loo and safe us from having to see you weeing and if it's hot weather its probably going to start to smell and thats even worse.
I’m not asking you to recycle your way through your next event and feel like crap if you accidentally put your wooden fork in the bin. Nor am I asking you to throw away all your glitter. I am saying, take it one step at a time and you can enjoy yourself know ing that you are making less of an impact.