Festival Communities Strive for Environmental Sustainability

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Festival Communities Strive for Environmental Sustainability

Mother Earth needs all the help she can get, and music festival organizers are determined to help her in any way that they can. However, this isn’t the easiest task. Gathering thousands of people in a designated space creates a lot of trash and people are going to litter, whether it’s on purpose or by accident. This is where the festival community comes into play. Through support from festival organizers and attendees taking responsibility for themselves and their peers, music festivals are getting closer to achieving environmental sustainability.

Festivals Take Action

Photo credit: Nina Hirner

One key aspect of an environmentally friendly festival is encouragement from the festival itself. For example, many events promote “leave no trace” and “pack in, pack out” principles on their website and throughout the festival grounds using signs.

To help with the trash problem throughout the weekend, festivals sometimes provide trash bags and advocate for attendees to sort their trash into compost, recycling, and landfill waste. It’s not uncommon to see separated trash bins and volunteers will oftentimes sort through trash as well. To keep the festival grounds clean, some festivals like Treefort have a Green Team that works around the clock during the event to pick up and sort trash.

Photo by: Randy Adams at Pemberton Music Festival

Two scary words: bottled water. It isn’t completely escapable at music festivals, but most weekend-long gatherings discourage them by providing water refill stations and selling reusable bottles at vendor booths. Vendors and bars also help cut down on disposable food/drink waste by offering incentives for buying or using washable cups and dishes.

Similar to plastic bottles, cigarette butts don’t degrade and it’s tough to keep them off the ground. To help solve this problem, some events like What The Festival provide designated smoking areas throughout the venue that are meant to prevent fires and reduce the amount of littered cigarette butts.

Individual and Group Responsibility

Photo Credit: Cameron Huffman

While festivals do a fantastic job of encouraging and promoting environmental responsibility, an eco-conscious event cannot be achieved without help from its attendees. A great place to start is to take steps to reduce waste individually and in group camps. Remove food from packaging and store it in tupperware containers that you can bring home and reuse. Since some waste is unavoidable, sort your trash at camp into recycling and landfill bags. Instead of bringing small bottles of water, purchase refillable jugs and use Camelbaks for hydration.


Festivals generate a lot of car traffic in one area, so it’s ideal to carpool and cut down on emissions. The big bonus from doing this is that you have a better shot at securing a large enough camping spot for your group. Once camp is set up, make an effort to keep the area clean throughout the weekend to reduce clean-up time at the end. Encourage each other to take everything home, even if it’s broken!

Community Effort Equals Success

The music festival community is a major advocate for our environment. From the actions of festival organizers to attendees picking up trash at the end of a set, every effort makes a difference. Encouragement and action through our community means prosperity for the environment.

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Brianna Allen

Music festival enthusiast and cat fanatic! Enjoys camping and backpacking through Idaho's beautiful mountains.

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