Music festivals have been branded 'environmental disasters' because of the sheer amount of rubbish they create.
We’ve all seen those dystopian sites where tents, sleeping bags, empty cans and plastic ponchos lie abandoned, drenched in mud or dust.
And sadly, most of this forgotten crap gets sent straight to landfill.
Here are 9 ways you can avoid being the person who causes the problem.
Remember, in situations of waste disposal like this, every little help matters. If every group of festival goers followed these pieces of advice, the proportion of waste that ends up in a landfill would be drastically reduced.
Let's work together to achieve a zero waste, 100% fun weekend.
Pack light, with only the essentials
The biggest surprise with festival waste is the crazy things you can find. From bras to wellies to batteries… it’s not just cans and crisp packets that get left behind. If we all bought only the absolute essentials, we wouldn't be so fed up with the amount of stuff we have to take back after the festival.
Don’t plan to treat your tent and sleeping bag as disposable
If a tent gets dirty, it can be cleaned. And though this may seem like an effort, it will save you a lot of money in the long run AND save the environment. So even in the state of extreme hangover that you will most likely find yourself in the morning after a festival - pack up that muddy tent. When you’re feeling back to full health - clean it and it will be good and ready to get just as trashed again at your next crazy weekend.
Just Take It Home by Love Your Tent 2015 from Love Your Tent
If you have to leave stuff behind - take it to the recycle points.
With a tent you truly no longer need, pack it up and take it to the recycling area. This will mean instead of the tent ending up in a landfill, it will be used by a charity or community organisation, such as one for the homeless or refugees.
Any leftover or non-perishable food left over also can be recycled. Feel proud about making the effort to drop items off at recycling points, as they will go to those in need.
Bring yourself a proper cup
When we go to drink at festivals we like to bring a bottle of some spirit and our favourite mixer. Often the easiest way to dish these drinks out between friends is to buy a load of disposable plastic cups. No washing up, no worries. Unfortunately, we can’t keep being this lazy, it's not that hard to wash up a cup, so do it. As a reward, you’ll probably get a much bigger drink than you would in a crappy disposable cup.
Do the can or cup recycling initiative the festival has
At Leeds Festival, every bar cup and plastic bottle comes with a 10p deposit, so handing back 10 items will gain you £1. Collecting a bag of cans to recycle will also gain you a beer.
Create zero waste standards for camping
Leave no trace on your campsite area. Just think of the difference this would make on a site-wide scale. The cleanup operation would be so much easier, and most importantly there would be much less waste.
Volunteer to be green
Every festival has volunteering opportunities for people to go to the festival for free. If you are considering this, maybe consider being part of a green team instead of a classic steward or wristbander.
Leeds Festival provides the opportunity to be a ‘green messenger’, where you work for 4 shifts throughout the weekend keeping the festival site as clean as possible. Duties include giving out recycling bags, sorting recycling and salvaging reusable gear.
Reduce emissions from travel
Leeds Festival says travelling makes up ¾ of the total carbon emissions generated. Even for festivals in remote locations, there will be some public transport organised - like the big green coach. To reduce air pollution from festivals, please take advantage of this!
If you do have to drive, carpool. If you have spare seats in your car you could post on the facebook event of the festival asking if anyone needs to join - they’ll probably chip you some money so you can buy more drinks!
Compost food scraps and cardboard
Most festivals work hard to ensure all food and packaging served by food vendors on site is compostable. There will be compost bins which are no plastic zones - but all food waste and cardboard will happily sit in there instead of being shipped off to landfill.
Remember, individual efforts can make a big difference to the festival as a whole. The cleanup operation is a huge part of the workings of a festival and if it keeps getting harder, and waste keeps increasing, if this continues it will badly affect the ability of the festivals we know and love to keep appearing every year.