Image of models and plastic free alternatives

Plastic-free festivals Summer survival guide

Hundreds of thousands of us will be heading to festivals this summer.

Many festivals are making moves to cut down on plastic pollution (such as Glastonbury banning single-use plastic bottles) but going plastic-free while camping out in a field can be a challenge.

Friends of the Earth’s team of hardened festival goers has pulled together a guide on swapping single-use plastic waste for some easy eco-friendly festival bliss.

Ditch the throwaway cup 

Come rain or shine, coffee is a rescue-remedy for many a festival-goer.

Instead of buying hot drinks in wasteful throwaway cups, plastic or otherwise, why not take your own reusable coffee cup?

And if you're all about cooking your own breakfast, make sure you pack refillable bottles of condiments – a surefire way to increase your popularity among your camping neighbours (and avoid single-use sachets).

Image of reusable coffee cups

Bring a bottle 

It may be a bit of a 'mum' thing to say, but hydration at festivals is key (and particularly necessary when you wake up in a boiling tent).

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 reusable bottle.

The security guards will probably make you empty your bottle before you enter the festival site (nice try), but once inside just head to the nearest tap and fill 'er up.

image of aluminium bottle

Reusable pint glass  

Festivals like Latitude and Green Man now charge a deposit for a reusable pint glass.

Although still plastic, these sturdier cups are much better than throwaway cups, and you can even take them home as a souvenir.

Many organisers are also 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

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Festival food

Festival food has come a long way from the days of greasy chips, and happily many festival food trucks are switching to cardboard containers and bamboo forks. They're also using self-serve sauces to banish nasty sachets.

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.

photo of bamboo bowl and chopsticks

Plastic-free toiletries

Remember to pack these zero-waste options for those mornings when you need to freshen up:

  • Bamboo toothbrushes.
  • Cocoa powder instead of dry shampoo (it makes a good cuppa and your hair looks great. If you're blonde you can use arrowroot).
  • A flannel (instead of wet wipes).

You can even make your own wipes using squares of fabric (an old t-shirt will do). Try this recipe over at Homemade for Elle using coconut oil, witch hazel and essential oils. These will last the whole weekend in a sealable lunchbox or clean jam jar and can be washed and reused.

photo of woman holding shampoo bar

Eco-glitter

For some lucky souls the sun may well shine on your festival experience, so be sure to bring the sun cream. Check the label before you purchase as some creams contain micro-plastics.

And for those of you who can't leave the tent without a face full of glitter, be sure to bag yourself some eco-glitter. Unlike standard glitter it doesn't contain micro-plastics (instead it's made from plant cellulose and the teeniest amount of aluminium).

photo man applying sun cream

Cagoules are cool

If you're at a festival in the UK, you can pretty much guarantee that at some point the heavens will open.

But with a bit of wardrobe planning, your experience needn't be a complete wash-out.

Pack a cagoule, avoid those disposable single-use rain macs, and you won't give a monkeys when it starts chucking it down.

photo of yellow raincoat

And finally, take it home.

As you prepare to return to reality, don't ditch your tent. We know tents are becoming cheaper to buy, and taking them down can be a pain, but please take it home.

Thousands of tents are abandoned each year, causing a headache for volunteers and organisers alike. A tent is not a disposable item.

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

Got the plastic-free bug?

Stop plastic pollution