11 easy ways to stay green this festival season (and why you should)

Last updated: Jun 5th, 2024

It’s July. It’s hotting up (kind of). And Decathlon is getting busy. Ah, hello festival season! Whilst some of us are turfing out last year’s muddy wellies, giving our sleeping bags the ‘sniff test’ and seeing if we can remember how to put that 6-man tent up again, not everyone is reusing their old festival gear.

Phrases like, ‘I dumped it’, ‘couldn’t be bothered to bring it back’ and ‘it got trashed’ are said all too often amongst festival-goers who leave tents, airbeds, gazebos and more behind. Ever stayed back at a festival? It’s a harrowing scene of half-collapsed tents, flattened cans, plastic cups, forgotten morph suits and discarded camping chairs – basically trash island, the countryside edition.

The worrying thing is a lot of what’s left behind is reusable. But after 3 or 4 days of drinking, camping and partying, energy levels are low and it’s easier to just ditch half the stuff you came with, or just slash that perfectly good tent ‘for a laugh’. And what’s left behind? A field that’s anything but green, and instead a dumping ground for the muddy, the broken and the just-too-hard-to-pack-away.


UK festivals produce a staggering 23,500 tonnes of waste every year, with around 32% recycled and 68% sent to landfill. – Powerful Thinking


That pop-up tent you bought for £30? Just buy another one next year, it was cheap and it’ll get donated to charity anyway – not always the case. Finished with your water? Just chuck the bottle on the floor, everyone else does – not cool. Oh, and don’t worry about that pile of discarded food wrappers, noodle pots and drinks cans outside your tent, the volunteers will clear that up – it’ll take a few minutes for you to clean up, but it’ll take a week for the volunteers.

With today’s plastic problem and climate change becoming ever-more pressing, we need to re-think our choices, even at festivals. We need to choose sustainable alternatives, and keep choosing them until they become mainstream. And we need to pick up after ourselves – the most basic, easiest thing that your mother taught you, yet something that so many of us simply can’t be bothered to do.

Whilst it’s easy to get caught up in the ‘mini cities’ our festivals become, we mustn’t forget it’s a still a field, a farm, a park – a home to local wildlife. Respect the land, reduce your waste and leave no trace.

Here’s how you can be a clean, green, festival-going machine in 11 easy steps.


11 easy ways to go green at a festival


1. Use public transport

Whether you get there by coach, train, cycle or car share, travelling in tandem will help reduce our carbon footprint. Car exhaust is still the biggest contributor to global climate change, so embrace the bus and leave the car at home.

2. Bring a reusable water bottle

Ditch the single-use plastic bottle and bring your own reusable water bottle. You’ll skip the queues and save some money by filling it up for free at the taps.

3. Don’t litter

It’s simple. You know you shouldn’t do it, so don’t. Use the bins provided and help keep the area clean.

4. Take it, don’t leave it

Perhaps the biggest one of all. Take your belongings home with you. We’re talking tents, airbeds, camping chairs, food, drink, toiletries – the lot. Plan in advance and only take what you can carry in one journey. Don’t bring things you won’t be able to take home with you.

Tents – invest in a quality tent that you’ll reuse, instead of buying and dumping a cheap tent every year. Most aren’t collected by charities and can’t be recycled. Volunteers only have a short window to sieve through thousands of tents in various states before the waste contractors arrive. P.S pick up your pegs – if left they can cause harm to wildlife after the field is rotavated.

5. Only use what you need

You don’t need 4 napkins for one burger – only use what you need and don’t cause unnecessary waste.

6. Ditch the wet wipes

Wet wipes, even the biodegradable ones, breakdown into microplastics and are problematic environmental pollutants. Instead opt for a reusable muslin cloth or flannel, add your choice of cleansing product (like coconut oil) and keep it damp in a Tupperware box.

7. Choose biodegradable glitter

For that eco-friendly sparkle, opt for biodegradable glitter. Conventional glitter is a microplastic pollutant which ends up in our oceans, whereas the biodegradable stuff is made up of plant-derived materials which can be broken down naturally.

8. Use the toilets (not the grass)

Urinating on the land causes toxic pollution and affects the ground water. We know the queues are long and they start to smell towards the end, but our wildlife and fish are affected if 200,000 people urinate everywhere.

9. Bring reusable cutlery

Bring your own reusable cutlery and make single-use plastic forks a thing of the past. Bamboo-based cutlery is a great alternative.

10. Pick a bamboo toothbrush

Toothbrushes don’t often make it home from festivals. They’re just waiting to be dropped in a muddy puddle or down the toilet (shudder), so go for a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush. That way if you lose it, it won’t end up in a landfill.

11. Avoid the plastic poncho

When have you ever reused a plastic poncho? Probably never. Invest in a long-lasting waterproof jacket that will do a much better job at keeping you dry and won’t end up in a sodden mess on the ground.