Thoughts On: The Festival Season By Scarlett Buckley

Music festivals, foreign to the masses, posse a long-standing, time-honoured rich antiquity, with their origins stretching back to Ancient Greece 6th Century BC. Revellers have been known to indulge in their festivities and celebrations, with the prominence of festivals such as Glastonbury and Coachella evolving through time. Though magnificent, vibrant and colourful, these mainstream commodities are paralleled with lasting consequences to our precious environment. The beauty of a festival today is being tainted by modern-day destruction.


23,000 tonnes of waste is generated annually in the UK alone. Only approximately a third of this gets recycled, whilst two-thirds go to landfill. In 2016, nearly 4 million people attended music festivals in the UK, with the total number of music tourists topping 12.5 million. This collaborative love for festivals should naturally coincide with an appreciation for the land they fall on; so here are a few ways to help enjoy the wonders of festivals with a guilt-free conscience.




 1)      Glitter – It may look pretty and leave you feeling festival-ready, but is it worth it for the impending effects on the environment? The glitter may be bright, but the reality is dark. Glitter contributes to the volume of microplastic found in our oceans. Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic measured at 5mm in length and they have hugely detrimental effects on the environment. They are eaten by plankton, fish, birds resulting in fatal consequences. An estimated 51 trillion fragments are estimated to be in our oceans, causing a serious threat to our marine wildlife.


Not just this, but glitter is made up of a component known as PET, a combination of aluminium and plastic. This chemical has been linked to underlying causes of the onset of cancer, as well as neurological diseases. It can also implicate hormones and release chemicals into the bodies of animals. To help avoid the addition of glitter to the environment and our fragile marine world, there are now a variety of biodegradable glitter companies which allow for you to sparkle without the everlasting effects. This biodegradable glitter is composed of certified compostable materials which can break down in >180 days, compared to an eternity of those made of PET.


2)      Ponchos – Due to England’s unpredictable summers, some festivals come with a downpour of rain. People always seem unprepared for the eventuality of the heavens opening, and so in a desperate attempt to stay dry, purchase a single-use plastic poncho. However, these plastic ponchos are just that, plastic. So, it’s worth asking, is staying slightly dryer for one night, worth the everlasting impact on the planet? The simple act of bringing a waterproof can prove beneficial and help control the amount of plastic that goes to waste after festivals. So, when going to a festival, prepare for the rain because if climate change inhibits the fall, it will be heavily missed.


3)      Tents – Dismantling a tent might not be at the top of anyone’s bucket list when it comes to the final hours of a festival, but this inability is what leads to the astonishing 250,000 tents that are annually being left in the UK. The average tent is made up of plastic and has found to be equivalent to 8,750 straws or 250 plastic cups. Despite the philanthropic beliefs that the tents will be reused and disposed of appropriately, this is, unfortunately, not the way it goes. 90% of tents will either go through an incinerator or thrown to landfill, further implicating our environmental crisis. Charitable interventions are underway, with salvagers reaching record numbers in 2018 with 930 individuals collecting abandoned tents and sleeping bags at Leeds festival alone. Although, with 30 tonnes being left annually, at this rate, the number of tents left will always surpass the number of tents salvaged.


So, here are just three ways, of the many, in which we can go green and rejoice in the summer festivities causing minimal impact to the precious land that hosts them. We cannot continue living in cognitive dissonance and need to appreciate that one weekend of festival fun can have a perpetual impact. We have evolved through ancient ceremonies, to modern-day congregations involving dance, music and art. With festivals comes the collaboration of talent, extravagance and imagination into the developments of our future; let’s just hope that through our actions, the future allows for them.

Ella Grace Denton