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 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 8.5 billion straws are used a year. Putting this into context, that is approximately 130 straws per person – unnecessary madness. 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? We hear you.
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 festival 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’ festivals 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, the ‘Splendor in the Grass’ festival in Australia, is a leader in what festivals should be working towards in the future. This festival is sustainable in all aspects, from 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 includes offsetting travel to the festival, a clean campsite and taking part in a tree planting session. ‘Splendor in the Grass’ also offers a carbon offset ticket option, for an extra $3, where ticket holders can offset some or all travel carbon emissions.
You may be wondering where this money then goes? Great news is that it is invested into Australian renewable energy initiatives!
Let’s face it, the transition will not be instantaneous, however, the start of the trend to change must start somewhere; so we must look at how we can 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; we have highlighted the main festival culprits as a gentle reminder;
- Plastic drinks bottles
- Plastic straws
Having discussed what festival organisers have started to incorporate, it is now over to us, and we are here to help. Here is a breakdown of how all festival goers can contribute to a more environmentally friendly festival experience:
- Biodegradable Glitter:
Did you know that glitter, a popular festival accessory, is a microplastic – making it an environmental hazard; particularly for animals and marine life mistaking this for food. No fear though, it does not mean you need to compromise your festival style, simply make a conscious swap to biodegradable glitter (Yes – game changer.)
- Bamboo Toothbrushes:
One plastic toothbrush can take up to a thousand years to decompose, who knew? Festival goers can reduce single-use plastic by purchasing a bamboo toothbrush instead. Bamboo toothbrushes are in fact biodegradable and can be found in many leading high street stores.
- 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 is 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.
The responsibility doesn’t 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 ‘Frank and Green’ bottles, keep water ice cold for up to 24 hours and hot drinks up to 12 hours (other options are available). Keep-cups are simply the ultimate way to drink in sustainable style, our team don’t use anything else for their coffee dashes.
- Metal / Paper Straws:
Some fear the loss of the beloved straw, however, there are many alternatives available – in the form of paper or metal. 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 and doesn’t melt in your mouth after a few swigs like the paper straw which is a love-hate relationship.
Three important words we can try to remember to make a difference: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!