Can a festival reduce its environmental impact?

Festivals and their environmental impact


Ok so am pretty much vegan, not just in my diet but also look at my life as a whole. I always think about my impact to the planet, lets face it guys and gals, whats the back up plan?? I mostly buy second hand, I drive an old car which has long paid off its build footprint, growing my own veg this year too, so many things from using soap nuts to wash my clothes to soap bars to wash my hair…Can I really say its ok to go to a festival, knowing the impact it has? 

Thank you Bethan Lovatt for the use of your photo of Boomtown aftermath

We have all seen the photos, lets face it, a festival is like a temporary village, right up to a huge city!! But a city has been built up over time and has things in place, rubbish being taken away, water ways, roads etc. A festival is mostly just placed in a large area of green and that has a huge impact to the environment. 

Just people walking over the grass, turns it to mud if it rains or dust if dry. Beautiful green fields turning to dirt at the end of the festival. Let look at the subject of tents…..

Thank you to Tom Potter for this image of Boomtown, he helped to clean up and was there for almost a month doing so! 

I have seen some shocking photos, of pretty much a whole campsite just left. Long walks back to carparks and exits are a factor. Also cheap tents, if it cost you 20quid, its covered in dirt and you have a three hour walk ahead of you….. Well we all get why it happens. Some good has come from it though, charities working to collect tents to give to the homeless, tents, sleeping bags, chairs etc. I also know lots of people who have stayed behind and collected tents from big events like Glastonbury, taken them home with them, cleaned them up, fixed them and then sold them on. Often coming home with a few worth over 800pounds!! 

Thank you to Bethan Lovatt for the use of her photos of the aftermath of Boomtown

Each year though, an estimated 250,000 tents are left at music festivals across the UK.

Most though are not collected by charities (which is so sad as I thought that was becoming a thing)but its down to lack of manpower to collect and fix so many. They can’t be recycled, meaning the vast majority will end up in landfill. 😦

The average tent is equivalent to roughly 8,750 straws or 250 pint cups. THATS JUST ONE TENT,8,750 plastic straws!! Think about how we are all trying to get rid of plastic straws and just one tent is more straws than you would use in a year!! 

I think most people just don’t care, as long as they can have a good time and don’t worry about their impact. But this is a growing problem and we all need to start thinking about it, as local councils won’t allow these events to continue to run, due to the long term damage they are creating. Also the cost impact is high too. It will push up the cost of these events to run, in the end pushing up ticket prices, which affects us all! Think about it, thats a lot of rubbish for the event holders to get rid of!! 

Thank you to Tom Potter for these two photos, the same space a month apart. It took a month to clean up after people had left the site! Many events take months to clean up, we can do better surely! 

So what are these events doing about this?

A few festivals have come together, they are called ‘Association of Independent Festivals.’ 
Organisers of more than 60 independent festivals across the UK have issued a call to retailers such as Argos and Tesco to stop marketing and selling ‘festival tents’ as single-use items, which result in almost 900 tonnes of plastic waste every year. Just in tents!! Thats crazy. (‘AIF’ members are some of the most successful and innovative festivals in the UK including the likes of Boomtown Fair, Shambala, Boardmasters, End of the Road, Bluedot and many more.)

The AIF, are trying to get us all to ‘Take Your Tent Home’ by campaigning and calling out retailers who are advising tents as a ‘single use items.’ This campaign follows on from the ‘Drastic On Plastic’ campaign, launched by AIF last year in partnership with RAW Foundation. They have helped 65 of their members to commit to eliminating all single-use plastic at their events by 2021

Thats amazing, I can’t believe its possible but I am hopeful! As already they have managed to get 98% to ditch plastic straws. 40% have banned the sale of single use plastic on-site and 40% have replaced single use bar cups with reusable cups! 65% sold branded reusable drinks bottles and 87% promoted using reusable bottles on site. So already that has made a huge impact, just in one year! I really noticed at South Central last weekend, they were calling for people to bring usable bottles to the site and giving free water at water stations. This was really good to see. 

So be on the look out at the entrances to festivals this summer, for the AIF will be showing videos about their campaign. It will also be shown on social media as well. Its time we all packed up and bossed it home with our tents. I know thats a lot to ask, when people are hung over, tired and have a long walk ahead, to take that tent too. We need to be more hot on this though, your time at the festival is worth leaving the place as it was before.

Why not do what I am going to do, don’t even buy that plastic tent but take a van or caravan! Its perfect! I am taking Margo my 1967 Sprite, she has a bed, kitchen and bathroom! Sod trying to find a tent, in million of other tents, sleeping on the floor and cooking in the rain, then having to walk to find a loo….I understand why there is an extra charge for campers as they take up more space than tents and they can’t sell as many tickets for that space. Having said that ,I will tow my van in and tow her out again! No mess left on my pitch. Home comforts and reusing a 50+ year old van 😉 Which had been sat unloved in a garden for over 20yrs! Sod the plastic tent, I will take my van thanks 🙂 Its worth the extra charge!

Long-standing citizen of Boomtown, Bean on Toast has a VERY important message for
everyone coming to Chapter 11 event.

So what is Boomtown (the main festival am going to this year) doing to help improve its impact?

They have a ‘Green Mission’ its so good to read, please click here for the link to it. They are really forward thinking on this issue, its important, how can we be a part of something so magical and be ok with damaging our planet to do it? Its not ok, we have to start looking ahead. If you have children, what world do you want them to live in? When I was a child, they where talking about ‘my children, children’ save the planet for them… but now we are facing the very real fact that we could lose our oceans in OUR life time. Not our children or our children’s children but us, right now!! I know thats a lot to take on board, but why not just make one small little pledge to yourself, something like, taking a reusable bottle with you? Its not huge, but imagine if everyone did. No one dropped a plastic water bottle on the floor, no one had to pick that up, no one had to work out how to bin that, no impact to our environment! That one small action, of just one person, has the power to make a huge impact. People used to laugh at the ‘tree huggers’ but guys, they where right, go hug a tree, for real, you will feel better! 

Am really impressed to see the amount of thought and time, big festivals like Boomtown are putting into thinking about their impact. They are doing things like, if your traveling up on the Wednesday you have to have 3 or more people in the car. This is not only helping co2 impact but also getting people together! I have seen so many people already chatting about car sharing, and meeting up and traveling together. Its already bring people together and thinking about their travel plans! Love that. They are also asking everyone try and fill their car no matter what day they are traveling on! They have partnered up with ‘Go Car Share’ too so they can help find you a lift or fill your spare seat! 

Boomtown is donating 1pound for every car park pass sold, to Energy Revolution. (They invest in sustainable energy products, and will turn your travel miles into clean energy ! Last year they invested this money into Solar4schools, who aim to put solar panels on the roofs of every school in the UK! I think that is amazing and know my children’s school would love that!)

They are growing a forest!! Boomtown have partnered up with ‘Tree Sisters’ an incredible reforestation charily. Committing to planting one tree for every festival attendee!! Almost 66,000 TREES.  

Boomtown have insured that all bar cups, cutlery and crockery onsite is completely compostable! You can bring or buy a reusable water bottle and fill up at refill stations. They even have bin recycling centres, so festival goers can sort as they go! 

They even have a cycle scheme!! 

Boomtown asked people why they had left their tents, and 12% said they thought if they did it would go to charity. They do not have the man power to save that many tents, so most still go straight to a landfill 😦 Please don’t leave your tent thinking it will help someone, it won’t, take it home and donate it your self. 

They have come up with a list of what to pack/take which will really help you not to take extra, which you could just end up binning. 

Make sure you share tents, its more fun too 😉 

You can even now pre-book tents, its not all that much more money, when you add up everything you need to buy and bring. I think this idea is fab, arrive and everything done for you! No having to go buy it and bring it all on a long walk onto site, just arrive, dump your clothes and go check out the event not worry about getting tents up! 

They are really thinking ahead, not just about this one event but getting us all to think about our impact. Its important! 


Its a famous saying but even at a festival they are thinking about it! Bring a useable bottle, make sure you use the bins and the right ones, you can even get a FREE portable ashtray if you smoke! Amazing. 

Well done Boomtown, above is just a few of the things they are doing and asking for help with. Check out their pages as its almost an endless list and I love that they are asking people for their thoughts and to why  people are not bothering to take their tents home. 


The Hippy Chippy shared these photos taken at Shindig festival this year, the ‘after’ photo was taken before the litter pickers came!! So it is possible!! Click here to see The Hippy Chippy page.

With prices starting from just over 50 pounds, why not let someone else do all the work of pitching your tent for you? Click here to see some other options for not having to carry your tent in with you and drag it back out – camplight

Boomtowns Green Mission

Association of Independent Festival
BBC report on going single use plastic free by 2021


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