Festivals can be pretty wasteful but it doesn’t have to be that way. Back when I first started going to festivals (gosh, a decade ago!), I used to bring any food in a plastic bag so that by the end of the day I wouldn’t have a bag to carry and could squish right up close for the headliners.
These days I’m a bit less likely to end up in the middle of a mosh. I’m also much more likely to bring a few extra things to reduce the need to put things in the bin. My zero waste festival essentials are pretty much the same as my zero waste every day essentials – no need to go out and buy new, fancy things!
If you are heading out to a festival this year, it is easy to pop a few extra things in your bag to prevent the need to use disposable plastic. This is what I’ll be taking:
Plastic pint glass – We got these at the Eisteddfod last year and have been reusing them ever since. Sometimes people at bars are a bit iffy about putting drinks in a reusable coffee cup, but these have proper pint measurements so there is not an issue. A lot of festivals now have reusable cups that you put a deposit on and then either do a swap system or you bring your cup back for refills. Looks like Glastonbury have reusable steel cups that you can give back at the end of the festival, so we might go for that option.
Plastic container with a lid – I use this to take my lunch to work everyday, but it doubles as a takeaway container very easily. I have never had an issue getting food in my own container. Just asking nicely seems to do the trick, and everyone in the UK is super aware of the plastic pollution issue these days too. I find the lid helpful because if you have eaten something a bit messy you can pop the container back in your bag until there’s a chance to rinse it out.
Spork – To eat the food! I have had this one for years, but cutlery from the kitchen works just as well. If you happen to forget your cutlery, just save the first piece you get and reuse it for the rest of the festival.
Refillable water bottle – Any water bottle is refillable, you don’t need a shiny one like this. (On hot days it’s nice to have an insulated bottle, but that isn’t really a problem in the UK.) With increased awareness of the plastic pollution issue, events here are finally starting to provide potable water refill stations as well which is great to see. (There were so many disposable plastic bottles being given out at Tafwyl last year, it made me so sad! This year I believe they are partnering with Refill Wales to provide free drinking fountains. But even is that wasn’t the case, staff at the Cardiff Castle cafe happily filled my bottle last year.)
Food and snacks in fabric bags – We are getting on to the items needed for multi-day festivals now. Apparently the food at Glastonbury is amazing so I’m looking forward to sampling it (in our container!). But to save a bit of money we’ll bring some museli and snacks in fabric bags. Fabric bags are great because they pack down to nothing when you are finished with them. Mine are the same homemade ones we have been using for bulk shopping for years.
Bicarb soda – I always carry a little container with bicarb soda as it has so many uses. Not only is it a simple mouth freshener, but also doubles as dry shampoo. (Not showering from Wednesday to Monday will save so much water. I’m kind of dreading the smelly bus ride home however!).
Menstrual cup – The only thing worse than having your period while camping is having it while camping at a festival. As in general life, a cup makes everything infinitely better. Just make sure to bring a bottle with drinking water to rinse it.
Drawstring backpack – It may seem like a bit of a faff to carry around all these extra items, but they are pretty light. A backpack like this means I have my hands free and is also not too bulky.
What do you think – have I missed anything that would make it onto your list of zero waste (festival / life) essentials?
P.S. If you are heading to Tafwyl or Glastonbury, see you there! It is my first time heading to Glastonbury, let me know if you have any tips!!