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Last summer it was not only big companies like McDonald’s, Starbucks and Waitrose cutting down on plastic but festival organisers also followed suit and there’s no time like the present for you to join in too.

With the government announcing plans to ban plastic straws and drink stirrers from sale in England, 61 independent UK festivals, have pledged to ban the use of plastic straws this year and remove all single-use plastic items at their events by 2021. These include two popular British festivals; Isle of Wight’s ‘Bestival’, and Newquay’s ‘Boardmasters’.


In the UK alone, it is estimated that we are using 8.5 billion straws a year. Putting this into context, that is approximately 130 per person – how absurd does that sound. To add to the matter, out of those 8.5 billion straws roughly 80% of them end up in the oceans and have serious consequences on the marine life. It is no wonder that it is predicted that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish. Over time we have incorporated an attitude of ‘use-and-replace’ into our society without a second thought of the repercussions – yes, the guilt is sinking in for us too.

Shocked by this statistic? So were we!

The good news is, change can be seen happening across many significant high-profile industries which has triggered the ‘reduce, reuse-and-recycle’ trend. This notion is continuously gaining momentum and has caused a ripple effect falling onto the shoulders of us, as individuals. We have a choice, a responsibility, and a collective power, which subsequently can make an impact.

You may still be thinking well how can I help? I am only one person surrounded by environmental mindlessness, however, it is important to remember a step in the right direction, is progression. There are numerous simple adaptations we can all make in our­­ every-day lives, one of which being to acknowledge the consequences of single-use plastic, whether that be as a festival goer, or simply as an individual. Remember, ‘you’, as one person can make a dent, and ‘we’ as a collective can make a momentous wave.

For the first time Boardmasters implemented a re-usable cup scheme, which will reduce the amount of single-use plastic generated. Meaning festival goers can return to the bar and refill as many times as desired. When returning the re-usable cup festivals such as Suffolk’s Latitude and East Midlands Download, will refund a deposit – ticking two boxes, the combat of single-use plastic and environmental waste.

It’s not just British festivals that are pledging to make festivals greener, Splendor in the Grass festival, Australia, is a leader in what festivals should be working towards in the future. With composting toilets, eco-cops, waste warriors, camp zero footprint and charity schemes for tents that are no longer wanted after the festival ends. Camp zero footprint is for festival goers that are truly dedicated to a zero-trace campground. They must uphold the site’s high standard which include offsetting travel to the festival, a clean campsite and taking part in a tree planting session. Splendor in the Grass offers a carbon offset ticket option, for an extra $3, where ticket holders can offset some or all travel (to/from the festival) carbon emissions.

You may be wondering where this money then goes? Well, it makes sense, it is invested into Australian renewable energy – great news!

Let’s face it, the transition will not be instantaneous, however, the start of the trend to change must start somewhere; we must change our daily habits, make conscious decisions, have a mindful attitude and learn to not disregard the environment that surrounds us.

The list of single-use plastic items is endless; yet, we have highlighted the main festival culprits as a gentle reminder;

  • Glitter
  • Toothbrushes
  • Cutlery
  • Plastic drinks bottles
  • Plastic straws

We have discussed what festival organisers are starting to incorporate – now, it’s over to you.

Here is a breakdown of how all festival goers can contribute to a more environmentally friendly festival experience:

  1. Biodegradable glitter:

    Did you know that the popular festival accessory, glitter, is a microplastic, the size of the glitter makes it an environmental hazard; particularly for animals and marine life mistaking this for food. Do not worry, this does not mean you have to compromise your festival look, simply make a conscious swap to biodegradable glitter.

  2. Bamboo toothbrushes:

    Another way festival goers can reduce single-use plastic is to purchase a bamboo toothbrush opposed to plastic – one plastic toothbrush can take up to a thousand years to decompose, who knew?
    Bamboo toothbrushes are in fact biodegradable and can be found in leading high street stores such as Superdrug, Waitrose and Holland and Barrett to name a few in the UK. In Australia Bamboo toothbrushes are sold on the following link as well many high street stores.

  3. Biodegradable cutlery:

    Festivals are notorious for single-use cutlery – after one use, it finds itself miserably at the bottom of a bin. Two alternative options to think about are;

    • Bring your own, wash after use and reuse, it’s as easy as that – you will be saving the environment, as well as your wallet.
    • Biodegradable cutlery, these are either wooden or biodegradable plastic – however, do not be fooled, be sure to check the packaging first.
  4. Keep-cups:

    The responsibility does not just lie with the festival organisers, have you thought about purchasing and taking your own keep cup to refill? It’s a great investment and a step towards saving the planet! Bottles such as Chilly’s bottles, keep water ice cold for up to 24 hours and hot drinks up to 12 hours (other options available). Keep-cups are simply the ultimate way to drink in sustainable style.

  5. Metal or paper straws:

    Some fear the loss of the beloved straw but stopping the use of single use-plastic does not mean you can never use a straw again as there are paper or metal replacements available. You can use paper straws knowing that after use, they will decompose naturally. Alternatively, you could purchase a metal straw – this would be the most cost-efficient option as the ‘re-use’ appeal has no shelf-life.

Five easy ways we can all contribute to become more environmentally friendly. Three important words to remember: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!