It is finally here: my guide on ‘How to go Zero Waste at a Music Festival’. In the last year I have been quite good with putting more effort into reducing my waste. I have been making my own cleaning supplies, shop at bulk stores, and only shop second hand. But when it comes to going to a festival, I am totally falling off the wagon. And I am sure I am not alone here. As soon s we enter the parallel music festival universe, we all become reckless and even the hardcore zero waster let loose. We leave and we forget.
Think about it: the biggest Rock Festival Rock am Ring produces a staggering 300 tons of waste. Taking this insane number into account, we do have 500 festivals in Germany alone. Another issue is that oftentimes festivals happen in remote areas without the appropriate infrastructure to deal with the amounts of waste.
Still so, there are really good initiatives taken by festival organizers against wastefulness such as avoiding one time plastic cups, offering vegan food, green camping areas or using renewable energy sources.
So I thought there must be a way to become more aware and to create a guideline for myself named How to go Zero Waste at a Music Festival. This is my reminder to be more mindful about my waste production and make sure I am prepared not to run into situations where I have no choice but to create unnecessary waste.
My test ground is going to be the Highfield festival this year. They have already initiated campaigns like ‘Your tent is already here’. With this campaign, the festival fights against the trend of festival visitors leaving their tent behind at the camp grounds. This in fact, happens in 1 of 3 cases in Germany!
Lets start with the basics or the zero waste no brainers. These are probably no news for you if you are a pro at zero wa
Zero Waste Essentials
- Pack your reusable coffee cup for festival coffee stalls or when you take your camping coffee to the festival grounds. If you don’t have a reusable cup, go for a usual jar with a lid. It is as good as a cup and fits the coffee too.
- Bring your water bottle and never buy plastic bottles. Festivals offer water dispensers where you can refill drink bottles at any time. If you need to carry large amounts of water opt for water canisters instead of plastic bottled water.
- Do not print your festival ticket, use a digital copy on your phone.
Clothes and Accessoires
Around spring fashion stores start to stock festival ware which usually only last for one season quality wise. And lets be honest, next year there is probably something else trendy that fast fashion companies want you to wear. My advise is, don’t buy throw away clothes solely for the sake of festivals.
- Raid your closet, look for pieces that you love anyways and upgrade your outfits with crazy props from second-hand shops. Or put together your entire outfit from a second hand shop and donate them back afterwards. This year, I asked my mum for some old pieces and one pair of green hot pants which I am madly in love with.
- As far as makeup goes, glitter is a curse and blessing at the same time. It is an amazing way to glam up your festival outfit. But glitter (and confetti!) is pure microplastic, contains toxic ingredients and takes centuries to degrade. Always go for bio degradable glitter. GLITTEREVOLUTION makes glitter from plants or eco glitter fun, their Bioglitter® PURE is 100% plastic free, certified biodegradable, and decomposes like a leaf in the natural environment.
- If you can go for unpacked foods. Shop and carry food in your cotton bags. Bring your metal containers and cups, plates for meals on the campground.
- Plan ahead what you would like to eat at the festival so you don’t buy huge amounts of food that you might throw away later.
- Think about pre-cooked meals. Consider making some dishes ahead like cooking a huge bowl of pasta which you mix with pesto at the festival.
- At the festival grounds, try not to buy food in single use plastic containers. Say no to napkins and plastic cutlery. If you can, carry your wooden cutlery and stainless steel straws with you.
- Ever thought about sustainable condoms? If you are looking for a bit of love during your favorite festival, there are sustainable vegan condoms f.eg. by Einhorn condoms.
- Bring your zero waste toiletry essentials such as deodorant creme, blocks of soap and tooth tablets. No need to carry small wasteful travel sized plastic bottles. If you want to carry any liquids, fill them into small reusable mason jars.
- If you camp and need to wash your dishes, go for biodegradable dish washing soap. Dr. Bronner has a soap that works for dishes, body and hair equally. This way you can go super minimal on the toiletry side.
- Replace your store bought (mostly toxic) mosquito spray with a DIY zero waste version. Simply mix: 4 tbsp vodka, some drops essential oil with distilled/ boiled water and fill into a spray bottle.
- Same thing can be done for a sunscreen version which only uses natural ingredients. Sunscreen is especially harmful for the ecosystems of surrounding lakes where festival goes cool off.
During the Festival
- Don’t accept cheap plastic merchandise that is often being gifted by advertising companies.
- If you are camping, invest in a good tent rather than a cheap one. Never leave your tent behind, if your tent is broken or cannot be used anymore, take it with you and discard at home. For general waste, use the waste separation options and trash bags provided at the festival grounds. Use the old motto: don’t leave traces, only footprints as much as possible.
Travel to the Festival
- Believe it or not, but the most environmental impact on a festival comes with music fans traveling to and from the festival grounds. Even if this is not directly related to waste, it is still very much related and deserves to be mentioned here. So if possible, use shuttle services, public transport, care sharing services and try not to fly.
If you are a festival lover like me and are not only interested in How to go Zero Waste at a Music Festival but also tries to stay healthy during the festival, you might want to check out my article on ‘How to survive a music festival as a Health Conscious Vegan’!