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8 Ways to Be More Eco-Friendly at Music Festivals

Inspire sustainable changes when traveling to large-size events

Is there a way to be sustainable at music festivals? Whereas they are incredibly fun, these are also very wasteful. Instead of drowning in single-use plastic, as individuals we can take action to make the experience more eco-friendly. Here’s how!

The bass makes your heart beat twice as fast, and the fairgrounds are alive with catchy tunes. However, plastic beer cups are on the sidewalk, countless tour buses line the road and novelty festival trinkets are destined for trash bins. 

Attendees and festival organizers must begin the transition to more sustainable music festivals to inspire change.

8 Ways to Be More Eco-Friendly at Music Festivals
Photo Credit: Aranxa Esteve via Unsplash

Steps Festival-Goers Can Take

Here are some things festival-goers can do to be environmentally responsible when attending events.

1. Don’t Purchase Unnecessary Items

Travel encourages wasting money on unnecessary, potentially single-use frivolities like outfits and accessories. Festival-goers vote with their dollars by encouraging these habits and industries. Additionally, everyday items like glitter include microplastics that are ingested by animals and damage soil, and glowsticks contain toxic chemicals. They look festive but should be avoided at all costs.

It’s easy to want a cute, new crop top for a summer music festival, but attempt to resist this temptation too. Shop from your closet or look up DIY clothing mods if you want a fresh look.

2. Consider Sustainable Travel Options

Sustainable travel has a lot of facets to it, including transportation, packing materials and eco-friendly lodging. Consider the length of the trip, the amount of gas you’ll use and where you’ll stay. Will you camp, use a Caravan or RV or check out eco-friendly hotel options? Is public transportation accessible to you? These elements will make you more sustainably minded and save money.

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3. Volunteer and Spread the Word

You could be why the next iteration of a music festival contains recycling bins or solar panels on pavilions. Plenty of organizations are doing impactful work, and they need your help for continued progress:

  • Reverb
  • BYOB
  • A Greener Festival
  • Effect Partners
  • The Climate Gig
  • Earth Percent
  • Sustainable Concerts Working Group

Specific musicians are even taking a green initiative. Bristol band Massive Attack commissioned scientists at the University of Manchester to assist them in compiling a report on musicians’ environmental impact. This raises awareness of artist and venue accountability.

Top 5 Volunteer Destinations to Travel & Make a Difference

4. Leave No Trace

Make it a point to take everything you brought back home with you. Recyclable items should be taken to a center or placed in an appropriate bin if the venue doesn’t provide options. If you see trash on the ground, help dispose of it in the best way possible. 

Many music festivals are outdoors. Trash could be caught in the wind or ingested by animals before humans can get to it. A general rule of thumb is to leave everywhere precisely the same as when you got there.

Steps Organizers Can Take

People planning and organizing these events should take care to make them as eco-friendly as possible.

8 Ways to Be More Eco-Friendly at Music Festivals
Photo Credit: Hanny Naibaho via Unsplash

5. Consider Different Amenities

Festival organizers could offer greener ways for attendees to experience the event. One consideration would be to exclude VIP zones, which require additional resources and materials to set up — this could also design more of a community aspect for listeners.

Asking food trucks or venues to offer more vegan and vegetarian options will also help reduce carbon footprints by a significant amount. The food truck industry isn’t as focused on this yet, but some say they could revolutionize the dietary movement

6. Source Ethical Merchandise

Bands and organizers are responsible for sourcing merchandise ethically, and this isn’t just about clothing from fair-trade sources. It includes all the additional merch, including stickers, accessories and music.

Innovative events like Pohoda Festival in Slovakia aim to decrease merchandise waste by letting festival-goers alter clothes they own with graphics.

13 One-Stop Sustainable Online Marketplaces For Ethical Shoppers

7. Remove Reliance on Single-Use Products

Festivals like Coachella generate 107 tons of waste per festival day, with only 20% getting recycled, highlighting necessary improvements in waste management. It isn’t just about beer and water bottles anymore — though water refill stations could mitigate a significant portion of the entertainment industry’s dependence on single-use plastic bottles.

Venues can go paperless for ticket options, abstain from confetti — or use biodegradable materials — and opt out of traditional event wristbands. These are not made of recyclable materials and go straight to landfills, but many alternatives are now on the market.

8. Use Alternative Energies

Festival venues could even use smart technologies to conserve natural resources indoors or outdoors. They could help regulate heating, cooling and Wi-Fi. Venues worldwide notice how much energy they waste, like SWG3 in Glasgow. The dance club uses a new thermal energy source to power everything from tech to air conditioning — using dancers’ body heat.

A considerable amount of fuel is required to transport all the electrical equipment, and more power is needed so fans can enjoy their favorite songs. Artists and venues can use alternatives like biodiesel to reduce impact.

Eco-Friendly Music Festivals

Transparency and initiative are comprehensive ways to make music festivals more eco-friendly and inspire change. This cooperation is what sustainability is all about, creating a better planet.

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Jane Marsh

Jane is the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she shares practical tips on how to live a greener life.

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