Image of models and plastic free alternatives

Plastic-free festivals

Summer survival guide

Festivals are hands-down the greatest thing about summer. Camping out with friends, running around seeing bands, discovering new music, never wanting to come back down to earth.

But how easy is it to keep your plastic-free promise when you're in a field, far from home?

Festival blogger Victoria Philpott (aka VickyFlipFlop) has been there. She explains how you can swap single-use plastic for some easy eco-friendly festival fun.

Don't mug yourself: ditch the throwaway cup 

Festivals are a chance to get together with your friends and run around trying to see as many bands as you can – there's no time to sleep. Guaranteed the tent will be too hot or too cold anyways. So you're going to want something to perk you up in the morning; coffee to the rescue.

There's always one in any group who's organised enough to bring along a camping stove. So, instead of buying hot drinks in wasteful throwaway cups – plastic or otherwise – why not take your own mug, tea and coffee?

For all your cooked breakfast needs you can even fill reusable bottles with ketchup and hot sauce from home to save on all those single-use sachets.

Image of reusable coffee cups

Message in a refillable bottle 

You have to stay hydrated at festivals. If you're spending all day in the sun, and having the occasional tipple, you're going to need to drink lots of water. And don't forget to take water to bed with you – there is nothing worse than waking up in a boiling hot tent and realising you don't have anything to drink.

Worldwide, 1 million plastic bottles are bought every minute. We know the convenience of bottled water is tempting, but most festivals now provide drinking water at taps around the site. All you need is your trusty reusable bottle. They come in so many designs – you can even match one to your festival outfit.

The security guards will probably make you empty your bottle before you enter the festival site (in case you're smuggling in any cheeky gin). But once inside just head to the nearest tap and fill 'er up.

image of aluminium bottle

Reusable pint glass  

Many festivals, including Latitude and Download, now charge a deposit for a reusable pint glass. Much better than throwing away a plastic cup every time. And guess what? The litter was almost non-existent compared to previous years.

Those sturdier cups, although still plastic, were much better than throwaway cups. I even took mine home as a souvenir. If you didn't want to take them home you could hand them back to be washed and reused. Genius.

Most festivals are following Bestival's lead by banning plastic straws. Excellent news for marine life, and the festival's clean-up operation. If you do like a straw with your cocktail, take an aluminium one with you so you can sip in plastic free style.

Photo of model with reuseable pint mug

Got the plastic-free bug?

Stop plastic pollution

Chop suey without the plastic 

Or veggie burgers. Or falafel. Or pizza. Or burritos. Festival food has come a long way from the days of greasy chips. In fact some of the food I've seen at festivals so far this year has been gourmet-level tasty.

The other great thing is that most festival food trucks are switching to cardboard containers and bamboo forks. They're also using self-serve sauces to banish nasty sachets. The tide seems to be turning, which is good news for our tides.

If you're worried about dinner being served up in dreaded polystyrene you could take your own plate. But make a point of letting the food stalls know they should switch to a greener alternative. Try to only buy from places that have recyclable containers and take your own camping cutlery to reuse and take home again.

photo of bamboo bowl and chopsticks

Plastic-free toiletries

Festivals are so live that'll you'll most probably forget to sleep. But when you do feel the need to pass out, it'll be back at the campsite.

So remember some zero-waste home comforts, such as bamboo toothbrushes instead of plastic travel ones. And try ditching throw-away wet wipes for a simple flannel and water. You can even make your own wipes by soaking squares of fabric (an old t-shirt will do) in boiling water, aloe vera, witch hazel, castille soap and essential oil. These will last the whole weekend in a sealable lunchbox and can be washed and reused.

Another tip is cocoa powder instead of dry shampoo – honestly, makes a good cuppa and your hair looks great. If you're blonde you can use arrowroot. Give it a go for all weekend festival-freshness.

photo of woman holding shampoo bar

Plastic-free sun worship and glitter

Sometimes you're in luck and the sun is shining, so be sure to protect yourself from those rays by slathering on the sun cream. Check the label before you purchase as some sun creams contain micro-plastics. Zero-waste alternatives are readily available, so add them to your festival survival kit instead.

I don't think I can actually go to a festival now without getting glittered up – it's one of my favourite parts of the whole experience. I've only just learned how bad plastic glitter is for the environment though, so this year I'll be switching to eco-glitter. It's made from plant cellulose and the teeniest amount of aluminium.

The biodegradable alternative is a much better choice for your glitter partings, glitter buns and glitter boobs.

photo man applying sun cream

I can't stand the rain 

If you're at a festival in the UK you can pretty much guarantee that at some point the heavens will open. Hey, it's part of the festival experience, right?

You know what they say: there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. With a bit of planning you can be dancing in the summer rain too. Just don't fall prey to those disposable single-use rain macs.

Cagoules are cool now and you'll be pleased you remembered your pack-a-mac when it starts chucking it down.

photo of yellow raincoat

Come and say hi

Friends of the Earth will be at Greenbelt Festival (24-27 August). Come say hi. We'll be in the market place nattering about our plastic-free campaign. Our CEO Craig Bennett will also be talking about climate change, Trump and Brexit. Catch him at 3:30pm, Monday 27 August in the Tree House.

Greenbelt is making a big effort to lower its environmental impact – including banning the sale of single-use plastic bottles.

Here's a downloadable version of our plastic-free summer festivals tips just for you.

photo of model with bamboo toothbrush

A little about me...

Hi! I'm Vicky Philpott, and I'm a travel and festival blogger over at I love adventure and will try anything once! One of my favourite things to do whilst travelling is sampling the local food and drink, whatever it may be. I write to hopefully inspire my readers to travel to places a little out of their comfort zone, or at least to explore the usual destinations in a different way. I'm also festival mad! You can find me @VickyFlipFlop on all the usual social media channels and on YouTube.

Travel and festival blogger Vicky Philpott

And finally. Take it home

All good things must come to an end. As you prepare to return to reality, don't ditch your tent. We know tents are becoming cheaper to buy, and breaking camp and repacking is a pain; but please take it home.

In 2015 Glastonbury Festival estimated that over 5,000 tents were left behind. OK, a charity sent them to a refugee camp – but a tent isn't really a disposable item, is it?

Tidy up your campsite too. Most festivals now have amazing recycling facilities, so don't leave it for the volunteers to pick up.

That's another great reason to have a zero-waste festival: less cleaning up afterwards.

Got the plastic-free bug?

Stop plastic pollution