Festivals are taking small steps to lower their carbon footprint, but you can do a lot on your own by bringing reusable water bottles, not leaving your trash behind and much more.

This summer millions of people around the world will attend music festivals of all shapes, sizes and genres. From the massive spectacle that is Glastonbury, to hip-hop and rock festivals and the carnival ride that is a dance music festival, there will be plenty for everyone. Festivals are always a place of excess, starting with performers pulling over the top stunts, the massive production and fans going quite hard on substances. Pulling all of that together can leave a rather large environmental footprint from the electricity used to power the festival, transportation of vast production and masses of people, the mountains of trash and much more. Pressure is being put on festivals to lower their carbon footprint, but until they go carbon neutral, there are ways that attendees can actually help themselves. We round out a slew of ways that festival attendees (camping and regular) can do better by the environment.

1. Take Public Transportation Or Carpool:

This may not be an option for everyone going to camping festivals in far-flung places. However, if you are doing a festival in a big city where public transportation takes you there, use it. Driving to the event or taking an Uber may sound easier, but it will be expensive for your wallet and all of those cars won’t be good for the environment. If you are going to drive, carpool with others as that will be more fun and better for everyone – less cars on the road and easier time parking. Don’t drink / take drugs and drive.

2. Bring A Reusable Water Bottle:

This is becoming a new and important trend. Many festivals now allow you to bring in a reusable or empty water bottle and then fill it up at water refill stations. Instead of spending $5 on a bunch of water bottles, bring your own so there is less plastic waste and you can save some money. You will be more likely to not lose your bottle if it is something you care about.

3. Check Which Vendors Use Compostable Containers:

This is a bit tougher, but more stores, vendors and restaurants are starting to use compostable containers for their food. See if you can scope out online before or in any festival reading to see which vendors are using compostable packaging. You can also check with them in person if the line isn’t egregiously long. This will make that giant pile of trash seem a little better.

4. Eat Less Beef:

Don’t get me wrong, I love a great burger and all things from the cow, but not eating beef is one of the biggest ways customers can reduce their carbon footprint. Next festival, take the chance to try and not eat beef. Plus do you really want to be sloppily eating some beef dish that will run right through in an hour?

5. Don’t Just Drop Your Trash On The Ground:

Wow Ryan, what a novel idea! But when leaving festivals, you are often wading through trash to leave the venue. I remember one Randall's Island festival where cans of beer were up to my ankles for hundreds of yards at the end of the night. It was gross and dispiriting that people wouldn’t dispose of their trash. The trash pickers at the end of the night may not be as judicious about putting everything in the right bags.

6. Put Trash & Recycling In Proper Cans:

This is another obvious one, but too often you look at the bags of trash and it is almost impossible to tell which is which, even if they are marked. Don’t be lazy and put the recycling in the recycling waste basket so that the whole bag can actually be recycled. The people working there aren’t going to sort recycling from hundreds of bags each day.

7. Take Your Camping Gear Back With You:

Now we are onto camping festivals. Another seemingly obvious one, but many people will leave tents and other gear behind because it was cheap and have no plans of reusing the equipment. If you go to one camping festival, there is a strong likelihood you will do it again. Taking that gear home will be useful for the next event and also save the environment. You gear will have to be thrown away in a large cleanup at the end, which is a bad look for everyone involved. If you are buying cheap, disposable stuff, instead splurge a little on chairs, tables and tents that are of better quality and they won’t break the minute a gust of wind comes. We have a few recommendations here.

8. Clean Up Around Your Tent:

Don’t be tempted to leave cans, food waste and other byproducts in the field next to you. It is hard to live in an environment where there is trash everywhere. Leaving paper plates, bottles, cans and more behind means it could fly away to sully some natural area nearby. It is also something that crews will have to spend days cleaning up, potentially without regard for recycling and trash. Bring a few trash bags with you and then take your stuff to a festival dump or back home. With the items you have in your camping area, use less single-use plastic and easily disposable material. Look to have as much recyclable, reusable and compostable material. 

9. Push For Festivals To Use More Reusable Energy:

You will be hard pressed to find a festival using 100% reusable energy. That would be something they tout on every poster and social media blog. Festivals, notably EDM festivals with their massive productions, use a ton of electricity. The bigger the production, the more lights, the more LEDs, the more electricity they need. So as productions get bigger and bolder, they draw more juice from the grid and likely from carbon-based sources. This won’t change overnight, but you can comment at every opportunity to push them to start using more renewable sources of electricity. A festival in Nevada, Arizona or LA? Maybe they install some solar panels. It may cost a little more, but where there is a will, there is a way. If we don't start doing something now, the environment for festivals will be dramatically different in the near future.

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