Festival season is upon us, and I could not be more excited. From the bohemian babes bouncing around Coachella to the mud-covered hippies of Glastonbury, summer festivals delight us around the world, and they are experiences to be thoroughly enjoyed.
But between all the crochet tops and henna tattoos, there’s an unfortunate amount of waste that amasses by the time the gates close. Mountains of disposable food and drink packaging, cheap tents and one-time outfits are left behind for someone else to deal with. Then, they face inevitable fate of ending up in a landfill. I know we all had a great time partying, but what about the footprint we leave behind? What if I told you that you could have your cake and eat it too? Have a great experience while taking some steps to ensure you love the land and leave no trace? Today we’re talking zero waste festival essentials. These are the things you can do this summer to reduce your consumption. Be a little less Landfill Lucy and a little more Gaia Goddess.
- First up: the mindset. You have to remember that the waste you produce at a festival is just like the waste you produce at home. It has to be disposed of somehow. The only difference is that at a festival there is a designated somebody to deal with your mess. Whatever waste you produce will end up in a landfill. It disappears out of your sight but will be sitting somewhere on this planet for long after you’re gone. Doesn’t that make you want to minimize your footprint? Festivals often occur in beautiful outdoor spaces, from beaches to woodlands to the desert. If we keep clogging up our planet with waste, you’ve got to ask yourself how many of these beautiful spaces will be left in the future?
- Reusable Food & Drink Containers. Festivals vary in terms of the sustainability of their food and drink packaging. If you’re lucky, you’ll get cardboard and wood. At the other end of the spectrum: polystyrene and plastic. Packing yourself a food & drink kit for on the go means you can say no to one-use packaging. Don’t forget a small bottle of soap to wash up with, too. This year, I’ll be taking with me: a stainless steel water bottle, stainless steel pint cup, stainless steel straws, collapsible coffee mug, cutlery set and food container. I won’t carry all of these with me the whole day, but take what I need out with me, when I need it.
- Pack Minimal. Really take the time to think about what you actually need to take with you to the festival. Are four different mascaras absolutely necessary? In my experience, taking an excess of stock has made me more likely to want to abandon items rather than suffer the burden of hoisting them onto my tired back when I pack up and leave. Take only what you need, and you’ll have a cleaner tent, need a smaller bag and be less stressed from product overload.
- Slow Fashion. I know, I know. Part of festivals is to see and be seen. We want to look our very best. I totally get that. But instead of buying a load of cheap garments that you’ll likely only wear the once, try to get creative with what you already have. Or if there are new pieces you’d like to treat yourself to, consider ethical brands or vintage shopping to give pre-loved items a home. For ethical brands, go here and if you’re new to the world of vintage, this is a great place to start. (You can also check out these gorgeous eco-friendly dresses!)
- Cup your Period. By cup, I am of course referring to a menstrual cup. These are designed to be used instead of disposable sanitary pads and tampons. If your time of the month has crept up just in time for the festival, there’s no need to panic. When it’s time to pop to the bathroom, take your water bottle with you, empty your cup, rinse, and reinsert. You’ve only got to do this twice a day: morning and evening, so for the rest of the time you can focus on other things.
If you’re trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle, you’re probably doing some of these things in your day-to-day life anyway. And that’s great! But it can be difficult knowing how to still live by your ethics when you’re away from home turf and wondering what obstacles you’re going to face. Being mindful and minimal will serve you best when it comes to making decisions about what you consume. And then secondly, replacing any one-use items with reusable alternatives that you can pack in a cute backpack will set you up for years of festival fun to come.
What’s in your zero-waste festival kit? Are there any useful tips and tricks you’ve learned over the years?
Also by Kat: Cotton: The Hard Truth about this Soft Fabric
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Photo: Unsplash, Kat Kennedy