Summer is a great time to participate in outdoor activities with families and friends. For many people, this can mean attending festivals. From family-friendly fairs to music festivals, there's a summer celebration for just about anyone to enjoy. Unfortunately, outdoor festivals can also lead to litter, increased emissions, and a generally harmful environmental impact. If you're eco-conscious, employ these five helpful tips to have a greener experience this festival season.
Think about all the plastic cups used to hold alcohol at large music festivals, or all the plastic bags full of cotton candy at the local fair, and you'll soon begin to see the scale of the waste problem that plagues most summer festivals. But you don't have to contribute to the issue. In fact, this is one problem that's fairly easy to combat. Simply bring your own recyclable or reusable cups for alcohol.
For family-oriented festivals, bring along a reusable shopping bag for souvenirs, and a reusable water bottle to keep everyone hydrated. If you have ideas for how your festival of choice could encourage more people to reuse and recycle, such as making recycling bins more accessible, don't be afraid to reach out to event organizers on social media. For example, at the popular Shambala festival in the UK, event organizers recently began providing guests with reusable metal drinking cups, largely because festival-goers asked for a more eco-friendly option.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but not littering can be more difficult than it seems, and may require a bit of vigilance. It's easy to drop things, especially if you're jumping up and down during a concert, or bumping into people in a crowd. Wind can also snatch things from our hands, especially if we're distracted by music or delicious festival food. This is especially true with light items like napkins, paper cups, and paper plates.
It's also important to remember that tossing garbage into an overcrowded trash can (where trash is piled up above the rim) can be just as bad as throwing it on the ground, since the slightest breeze will likely be enough to push the entire top of the garbage heap onto the ground. Instead, carry your trash (with a firm grip) until you can find a good place to dispose of it. If no such place is available, alert a festival organizer.
Festivals of all kinds use a lot of electrical energy. Stages, lights, and food vendors all require power to function. While this problem is largely outside of festival-goers control, you can still offset excess energy use by striving to conserve energy yourself. If you're attending a festival that lasts for less than a day, try to forgo using electronic devices, or only use them until the end of their battery lives. If you're camping out at a multi-day event, get creative in how you charge your devices. Solar chargers or crank chargers are viable options. Also consider solar-powered lights for use around campsites.
Knowing really is half the battle, particularly when it comes to the environmental policies of your festival of choice. If you're eco-conscious, you'll want to know things like where recycling bins are located, whether the festival provides any reusable cups or utensils to guests, and what sort of rules are enforced to ensure that the environment doesn't take a hit from the festivities. Almost every festival has some set-in-stone policies regarding these issues. Even Burning Man, the most famous culture festival in the world, has a host of environmental policies available for easy reading on their website.
Possibly the most important thing to keep in mind, during festival season, is to be the change you wish to see in the world. If you want to see other festival-goers think greener, then help them to do so. This is especially important at multi-day festivals, where campsites can become cluttered over time. When it's time to leave the festival, cleaning up your own campsite will likely be easy, if you've committed to not littering. But those around you might be overwhelmed.
Instead of leaving immediately, offer to help your nearest neighbor with their cleanup. Grab a discarded bag and fill it with trash. Sort recyclables from regular garbage and distribute it into the correct receptacles. The people you help will likely never forget your favor. They may even decide to commit to being more eco-conscious in the future. No matter what eco-conscious steps you take, during festival season, helping just one other person go green will likely make the biggest long-term impact of all.