If you’ve ever regarded a muddy field studded with crushed water bottles and cringed; regretfully bought a slice of pizza at a food stand because that was the best thing available; or had a moment of clarity in the middle of the closing act, surrounded by a crowd of thousands, and wondered, how much energy is that huge stage using?; then you’ve experienced “Eco Festival Guilt.
It’s that feeling of hypocrisy that dogs conscious consumers when they participate in festival season. You can try your best to be sustainable, but once you’ve entered the festival ground (“No re-entry! All exits are final!”) you’re often confined to the options given to you.
Compound those subpar options by 80,000, and you’ve got a pop-up environmental crisis, albeit with an excellent soundtrack. According to a report by Creative Carbon Scotland, festivals produce the equivalent of over 6 pounds of waste per person per day — way more than you put in your own trash can at home or at work! Plus, they use 6 liters of diesel — for powering all those remotely located stages and other amenities — per person per day.
In total, U.K. festivals produce 21,800 U.S. tons of carbon emissions per year, and that doesn’t even include attendees and artists’ travel to the festival, which could be an additional four times that, according to Powerful Thinking, an organization that works with festivals to lower their environmental footprint. In total, U.K. festivals produce 26,000 U.S. tons of waste every year, and recycling rates are typically below 32 percent. It doesn’t have to be this way. Festivals large and small all over the world are experimenting with ways to cut down on waste, support local and organic agriculture, and lower their carbon footprint.
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