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Saturday, 7 July 2018

The Top Sustainable Festivals

The war on plastic has been rife in the UK recently, from many companies getting rid of straws to discount if you use your own cups, reducing single use plastic consumption has never been more fashionable. The government has even just undergone a consultation on single use plastics. It's a big deal and could have a huge potential impact on other countries, espiecally in the Common Wealth, who are expected to follow suit in the near future.

What you may not know though is that festivals though been leading the way in the waste reduction area for quite some time (deposit cups ringing any bells?). This year infact, over 61 independent British festivals varying from the likes of  Boomtown Fair, Bestival and Shambala have all signed up to getting rid of single use plastics by 2021.

So this year, instead of sharing my top festivals to attend, I thought I'd share the festivals making a difference. I think you maybe suprised at what they are all upto.


Shambala is leading the way for sustainable festivals. Reducing their carbon footprint by over 80%, being powered completely by renewables, completely eliminating disposable cups and pioneering recycling deposits and reusable cups are just the beginning of this festivals initiatives. They've taken the bold step to go meat and fish free, they have compost loos across the event and the event continues to not only be carbon positive, but have led to the creation of a charity which has funded a forest in Africa. Pretty impressive right?


I recommend Boardmasters to everyone. It's one of those festivals which has an atmosphere like no other with incredible music, brilliant surfing and views to die for. The festival, like many, have now banned the use of plastic straws, all of their food stalls and vars just compostable serve-ware. What's different about  Boardmasters is firstly, the Litter Bond. This £10 redeemable charge has led to recycling doubling across the site. Secondly, the festival has a green team, people who educate campers about sustainability and the importance of looking after our planet. Thirdly, the festival provides shuttles between venues and from the train station to encourage public transport. Finally, although the festival may only take place for one weekend a year, Boardmasters work all year around conducting beach cleans and local community engagement. The event has become part of the community and thus the local economy, businesses and suppliers are supported.

BlueDot Festival

BlueDot festival holds a place close to my heart because
1. It's located only 20 minutes from my home town
2. It has a huge offering of science information which is facinating.

Along with all of the science knowledge, incredible setting and fantastic music the festival also has some pretty good sustainability initiatives to. To start they offer attendees a chance to offset their carbon footprint with a choice to make a ‘Carbon Offset’ donation when they buy their tickets. They have also removed the use of all plastic straws, plastic containers and plastic cutlery sold from food traders. Onsite food bank collection points, tent collections for charity and car sharing schemes also help keep the festival on the sustainability map. Finally, I have to mention the the wealth of information that the festival provides surrounding sustainability and the environment in general, from researchers to exhibitions there is a fountain of knowledge to gain!


I had to include Glastonbury on the lists of sustainable festivals, even if it isn't on this year. As the biggest UK festival with many green initiatives it's hard to pick the top ones. From huge recycling schemes, investing into solar panels to power stages and hybrid generators to be used during peak times to using renewables to help provide showers. The festivals solar power means outside of the event that power is provided  . No plastic bags are used at all whilst all tea, coffee and hot chocolate sold on site. They help plant trees like no other and really are trying to reduce their CO2 footprint.


Lattitude is a festival which manages to combine a little bit of everything. From comedy to music, to cooking and literature, there really is something for everyone. Along with their fantastic setting the festival has also managed to ramp up some serious sustainability initiatives. From all of the tower and festoon lights being 100% LED to not sending any of their waste to landfill. Like boardmasters, they have also created a role for those interested in sustainability and recycling - Niftybins Zero-waste Agents. You only have to volunteer 6 hours a day for 4 days at the festival and you get your ticket for free.
Setting them apart from other festivals is the fact that on arrival they give you a Camper’s Waste Kit. These kits consist of:
Clear Plastic  Recycling Bag, Biodegradable Bag for food and a General Rubbish bag. When your bags are full bring them to the NiftyBin Recycling Points for your chance to win 2 x free tickets for next year, merch, or Co-op vouchers to use at home! A member of the F.B.I (Festival Bin Inspectors) can help you separate them out into all the different materials to learn about Zero Waste philosophy. This campaign has had a huge positive influence on rubbish and allowed the festival to reduce the amount of waste as well!

Cambridge Folk Festival

For all the quirky festivals out there, Cambridge Folk Festival must be on of the most talked about. The festival celebrates emerging talent like no other and that's often why you won't recognise many names on their lineup unless you really know the niche. Along with this interesting niche of the festival though is its strong commitment to environmental issues, winning highly commended in the A Greener Festival Awards. To reduce their carbon footprint they, like many festivals now have no plastic cutlery or straws. Eggs must be free range, meat must be British and fish must be sustainably sourced, no plastic bags are allowed either. A nice touch has to be the ability to plant a tree in the Festival Wood to offset your carbon from your travel.

With so many festivals now putting sustainability at the heart of  what they do, I only hope that the rest of the events world starts to follow suit to. I can't wait to try out a few more over the next few years as well! To read more about some more sustainable festival click here.


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