Festivals are an opportunity for community to come together and create the best version of what we want our society to be. Inclusive, diverse, creative and colourful – maximum fun and laughter without harming our environment.  A Greener Festival (AGF) is a not-for-profit company committed to helping events, festivals and venues around the world adopt environmentally efficient practices and CEO Claire O’Neill has put together some useful tips on how we can all do our bit for the environment and do festivals more sustainably.

AGF CEO Claire O’Neill says:
“Everyone who attends a festival plays a part in its creation. The actions you chose to take will directly influence how green or otherwise that festival will be. Here are a few tips for how to help your favourite festivals to be the greenest.”

1.Choose the greenest way to travel
Plan your green travel. Up to 80% of festivals CO2 emissions can be  audience travel. Choose as low carbon as possible such as train, coach or cycling!

Often there are packages to take the bus to the festival with fellow revellers, so why not start the party in advance. National and European train travel connects so many cities and with forward planning can be found at reasonable prices and breathtaking views. If choosing international rail over flying you avoid the airport journey and hassle at either side. 

If you really have to drive then make sure that you share all the spaces that you have. There are lift sharing apps as well as social media where you can connect with festival goers.

A festival in the Netherlands called Into The Great Wide Open tested a luggage delivery service for locals camping equipment etc, so they could travel in a lower impact way easily and collect their camping gear when they got to the festival.

Packing light and choosing festivals local to you help achieve this top tip for greening festivals, and supports the local creative economy at the same time.

2.Pack less and reuse
Go slim on packing. Think about what you need to take in advance.

If you’re going in fancy dress or for a new festival outfit – see what you can get second hand. Share so that you’re not supporting the production of new materials which often cause environmental damage as well as human rights abuses, and ultimately end up as waste. Imagine the number of festival fancy dress outfits out there by now – get creative with what exists.

Pack your reusable cup and bottle. Many events provide places where you can refill your water and a lot of them do chilled or filtered water.  Coffee traders are doing refills. 

Many of the bars are using reusables with a deposit or a levy so bring it back in the end because the more that it gets reused then the more that is an environmental benefit preventing plastic pollution and production.

Pack light and leave nothing behind.

3.Get informed and get involved

Prior to getting to the festival, get informed about what they’re doing with regard to sustainability.  If you go to any festival website you can have a look at what their plans are and what they are asking you to engage with. That might be something related to transport or things to bring and things not to bring. 

If there’s nothing there then get in touch with the festival and ask what about their green actions. You can have even more influence by actually making them think about it if they haven’t already.

Perhaps they need green ambassadors. To be a part of the festival community,  think how you can be part of the solution. It’s the festival goers who are creators of the festival experience too. 

4.Remember to turn your electronics off
Turn everything you can off before you go, unless you’ve got house mates then that’s a bit mean.  Also check the fridge, check the cupboards and make sure you’re not leaving food that’s going to go off when you’re away. 

You can actually have a lower impact by living at a festival for a long weekend because of communal cooking and living, and you’ve not got everything switched on the whole time.

5.Beware of the Supermarket
Beware getting shopping trolleys full of stuff that will perish in the campsites, including cheap tents and the kind of items that you don’t really need.

When you go into the supermarket on the way you might think oh I’m going to make all of my own food and say you’ll buy loads of pots of hummus, but what we see is that food gets left over at the end of festivals in campsites. Try to not take more than what you need and avoid random items that are going to end up being single use and waste.

There’s often independent traders at festivals with quite unique offerings. Support the local and the festival economy!

6. Pre-pitched and reusable tents
If there’s the opportunity to get pre pitched camping this helps reduce packing you have to carry and risk of campsite waste. It doesn’t have to be  boutique camping. More so there are economic pre pitched options. How lovely if you don’t need to carry and put up your tent.

If you do take your own tent, get something durable that’s not just going to end up smashed into pieces, and that you’re definitely not going to leave it behind. There is embodied oil, water and carbon in the production of most camping items which we can’t afford to throw away, ecologically as well as financially.

Save money and reduce waste by getting long lasting camping gear and taking it home with you. 

7. Think about what you eat
Our food choices on site have a big impact on sustainability. Ingredients have varying impacts on the environment based upon land use and feed for instance. Red meat is known to have the largest CO2 impact and land / water use. Plant based and vegan meal options are known to have to lower CO2 impacts. If you’re not already vegan try something new with the varied and delicious options available in the festivals food line up!

With any meals you purchase, check for any labels and sourcing information provided. It’s amazing when you go to festivals the amount of detail that you can get and if it’s not written up there on a chalkboard you can ask the person in charge of the stall. Our food choices and sourcing has such a huge impact on the environment and wellbeing. Have the conversation.

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