10 Ways You Can Protect the Planet At Festivals

Article by: Marcus Barnes|@mgoldenbarnes

Fri December 15, 2017 | 09:00 AM

Fears over increased global warming and climate change mean that we live in a time where reverting to the ideologies of the past is becoming crucial to the survival of our planet. Many ancient civilizations, such as the Australian aboriginals, took care of their surrounding environment, living a nomadic lifestyle so as not to overuse resources. Having respect for the Earth and the land we live on should be a daily practice, but since the advent of the Industrial Revolution such habits have become eroded as we’ve relied on fossil fuels to power us through. Festivals have a big part to play – through education and practice – in the change in attitude needed to preserve our planet’s future and we as individuals should also be working to ensure we’re doing everything we can to respect the land, sea, and air.

Here are some tips for maintaining a eco-conscious mindset during your festival experience.

Be Prepared

Jacob Avanzato Enchanted Forest Gathering 1468

Even before you get to the festival site there are numerous ways you can get into eco-conscious mode. For some, it’s second nature while others need a bit more training. If you’re in the latter camp, make sure you’re fully focused. This ranges from simply reminding yourself, and your buddies, to stay on top of your litter to packing plenty of trash bags for your campsite. Telling everyone from your crew to make this an eco-friendly trip is really important; you must spread awareness amongst your group so that they will also adhere to the Earth-loving experience. Targets and a checklist of items needed can be an essential tool in this task.

Be Conscious of Your Travel Arrangements

Coachella 2016 Jeremiah Garcia Carpool
Photo by: Jeremiah Garcia

The amount of carbon that is pumped into the environment by airplanes is pretty disgraceful. Virtually no airlines use jet fuel that does not harm the environment, and the advent of cheap flights has actually meant that aviation pollution has increased – according to one report, since 1990 Co2 emissions from international aviation have increased 83%. So, although it may take a little longer, look at how you can economize your trip and take a mode of transport that has less of effect on the environment. Yes, it will add some time on to your journey but we must start to make sacrifices for the future of our planet.

Use Recyclable or Reusable Everything

Bass Coast 2016 Patrick Latter 1

The amount of plastics, paper and metal we go through when at a festival is often huge. Think about all the cups of alcohol or water you consume on an average festival trip. At Meadows In The Mountains in Bulgaria, and Shambala in the UK the organizers give out metal drinks containers which can be used time and again (even refilled at their bars when you order a drink) to avoid the inevitable piles of discarded plastic and paper cups. If the festival doesn’t do that, bring your own and make sure you collect all the rubbish you create and separate out the recycling.

Be Aware of Your Energy Usage

Campsite Makeover Mpowered Luci Light

Solar-powered Luci Lantern. Photo by: Mpowerd

Aside from the huge amount of fuel emitted by traveling to your chosen festival, there is also the excess usage once you’re there. Festivals themselves often use huge amounts of energy to power their stages, food stalls and other installations. It’s up to us to offset that by utilizing renewable sources; wind up phone chargers, solar powered tent lights, anything you can find that will bring your energy usage down. There is a growing marker for sustainable energy gadgets, so it won’t be hard to find pretty much anything you need – it’s just a case of making the effort to search for it.

Avoid Disposable Plastics

Lightning In A Bottle 2017 Jb Photo 1

How many of us buy silly accessories (and now pool floaties!) from a cheap source, like a fancy dress store, or some online marketplace, or a low cost dollar-an-item store? Walmart is always the main stop off for Burners en route to Black Rock City. But these places rarely sell anything that is biodegradable – that’s why they’re so cheap. Typically you’ll be getting single-use or poorly made plastic products from China. This is just not good enough. We need to make more effort to search out and use eco-friendly items. A quick search for eco-conscious fashion online reveals a long list of outlets that specialize in clothing made with a green outlook. So you may not end up with the amusing glasses with a mustache attached, but we must consider the bigger picture.

Think About Your Spending

Wanderlust 2016 Courtesy Of 1

Photo by: Wanderlust

Sadly, a lot of us are not affluent enough to splash on some of the more expensive eco-friendly gadgets or organic foods. Things are getting cheaper but it’s a slow process. So being a bit more aware of what you’re spending and how you’re spending it can be a good way to channel your cash living a greener life. Yes, a budget sounds like a snoozefest but as we keep saying sacrifice is necessary if we’re going to make any long lasting change.

Stay on Top of Your Litter (Especially Cigarette Butts)

Bass Coast 2017 Linka Odom    19 Of 48

Photo by: Linka Odom

It should go without saying really, but littering is possibly one of the most damaging aspects of a festival. So many things get mindlessly discarded and trampled into the ground that it can be almost impossible for everything to be cleared up. At Glastonbury one year I spoke to a couple of volunteers who told me that the nitrous oxide cannisters were a big problem. Cigarette butts are also terrible; the filters are made from plastic that degrades very slowly and are toxic to wildlife. So if you smoke carry a portable ashtray with you and be strict on your litter, that of your friends and even strangers, too. We all have a responsibility to our environment.

Be an Example

Wanderlust 2016 Courtesy Of 1

Photo by: Wanderlust

You may feel as though you want to tell other people what to do. It's easy to snap at others when they're not toeing the line like you are but lecturing is never going to be a solution. One of the best ways to show people that having an eco-conscious attitude is not difficult is to provide a great example by simply doing your duty in front of them. During a performance keep a trash bag close to you so you can throw your litter into it and offer it to others around you. Don't balk at picking up litter left by others – go that extra mile and do it with bounds of enthusiasm. When others see what you're doing they will be encouraged to follow suit. 

Nominate an Eco-Partner In Your Group

Wanderlust Festival Squaw Valley 2015 Ali Kaukas Holding Hands

Nominating a partner who will keep you in check and vice versa is a good solution in case you’re worried you won’t be able to do it yourself. Keep it friendly and positive. Make a game of it so that it becomes fun. Throughout the festival experience stay aware of what your partner is up to, have regular check-ins and encourage one another to keep it going. We can’t always do what we want to be doing alone, so having someone to encourage you and work with on such an important task might just be exactly what you need. Give it a go!

Find Out The Festival’s Eco-Friendly Policies

Carolina Faruolo    38e358ea 6e1d 11e6 8dbb Aab69d8b7bb7   Web

Photo by: Caroline Faruolo

Many festivals will have their own policies, so make sure you investigate what they’re doing and see how you can operate within their eco-conscious framework. Recycling areas, meat-free stalls, sustainable power and many other methods are being introduced as more and more festivals acknowledge the role they play in tipping the scales. For instance, the "leave no trace" policy at Burning Man is adhered to by everybody, and everybody keeps each other in check (usually) which means respect for the land is maintained universally. If you think the festival you’re attending is not doing enough then write to them and make your views known. We have to hold everyone accountable and that includes the large-scale events that we’re attending, too.