All of Germany loves the festival season! Three days of partying, camping, flunkyball and lots of music! Just leave your everyday life behind. The interest in festival tickets is constantly increasing and one new festival after the other is establishing itself in Germany.
So it is important to have a unique and sophisticated concept for the design. Especially one aspect is often underestimated in the planning and organization, which should receive much more attention from the managers*: Sustainability and environmental protection!
Because a big problem after the festivals is the garbage left behind. On average, 15 kilograms of trash are left behind per person after a festival! For the festival managers, this means above all: weeks of cleaning! This is made even more difficult not only by the amount, but also by the uneven terrain and the mixture of garbage. So the final cleaning can easily take several weeks and be quite expensive!
To help you save a lot of waste and personnel costs at your next festival, we have put together a few tips on how to avoid and reduce waste.
Planning and setup
To make a festival sustainable, you should start with the planning and set-up of the site. For example, huge amounts of CO2 can be saved by switching to electricity from renewable sources. Another option is to go solar. Since most festivals take place in the summer with a lot of sunshine, you could run your site's evening lighting entirely on solar energy. You can also use LED bulbs and save a lot of money!
For the construction of the stages and the decoration of the site, you can use recycled materials or natural materials. The stages can be built, for example, with the help of pallets and scrap wood. This is also much cheaper.
There are also possibilities to do without chemical toilets, e.g. by using vacuum toilets, which consume less water. If the conditions allow it, portable toilets can also be connected to the sewage system.
At some festivals there are already "Green Camping" zones, where special attention is paid to waste consumption and less noise is to be caused. This can be turned directly into a challenge: for example, whoever leaves the cleanest campsite wins a prize. Furthermore, the Green Operations Group Europe will give you a "Green'n'Clean Award" if your festival complies with their guidelines!
To effectively save waste and do something good for our environment, you need to be well prepared.
This starts with encouraging your visitors to visit your festival in a more sustainable way. Make people aware of your sustainability concept already on your homepage and ask them to participate and support you, so that the festival area doesn't look like a battlefield afterwards.
Ask your visitors to do without bulky items like sofas and furniture. Most of the time, after a long weekend with little sleep, they don't feel like taking these items back on Sunday morning and you have to take care of the disposal. This can be quite expensive under certain circumstances.
Another useful feature on your homepage would be a forum where visitors can exchange ideas. Maybe you can find some sustainability experts who would like to share their tips. It would also be possible to compile a packing list for them to download. We will tell you at the end what should not be missing.
A plastic-free festival can only be realized if both the organizers and the visitors pay attention to avoiding waste.
The next issue is transportation. Every group that does not arrive by car is a relief for nature. Besides: With bus and train not too much stuff can be taken and the visitors might think twice what they really need and what not. Thus again unnecessary garbage could be avoided and sofas or refrigerators will probably be less after the festival.
For this purpose it would be helpful, for example, if there is a shuttle bus to your site from the nearest large train station. To support the bus and train transport, you could create incentives that they should be used, for example by higher parking fees or the like. It would make sense to advertise this on your homepage.
In addition, there is the possibility to set up a forum for carpooling, so that maybe less cars drive to the festival area. You could also organize special trains or long-distance buses. Super relaxed and above all safer, since no one hungover and dog-tired must drive more car. So the last evening can be celebrated again extensively.
There are even already some festivals in Germany, which offer special trains with couchette compartment. This train stays on the premises for the duration of the festival, so that the visitors can spend the night in it. According to the organizers, this halves their carbon footprint compared to traveling by car. In addition, ghost tents, tents that are left behind, can be counteracted in this way.
One aspect that should not be neglected is disposable plastic. By own drinking cups, plates and cutlery you can reduce this extremely. Write this down on your packing list! In case someone forgets, you could offer sustainable reusable solutions at a stand, perhaps even with a printed logo. You could also offer these in an online store on the website, so that you can better calculate with advance orders. Since you can't switch so well to sustainable variants for certain things, try to find the most environmentally friendly variant possible. For example, our #IAMPLASTICFREE drinking straws are an excellent choice. They are made of wood, sugar and glucose and are in no way inferior to plastic straws. You can find more advantages of our straws here.
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Our free sample pack of drinking straws is the perfect choice to test our thoughtfully sustainable straws.
A garbage deposit system has also proven to be very useful and necessary. For this 5-15€ garbage deposit are added to the ticket. At the entrance there are garbage bags for each person. If the bags are returned full at the end of the festival, the deposit will be returned! This way you create an incentive for the visitors to dispose of their garbage right away. Generally, you should place garbage cans all over the festival area. It is practical if they are divided into plastic, paper and residual waste, so that the waste can be recycled better. It would also be good to have glass containers on the grounds. You can find out why proper recycling is so importanthere: . Also make sure that your garbage systems are emptied regularly.
Viva con Agua has also dedicated itself to the waste problem at festivals and wants to help make festivals greener. To this end, they have launched various campaigns, such as the deposit cup can toss. Thus, they take care that less cups are lying around and with the collected deposit they support water projects worldwide.
Our tip: Distribute pocket ashtrays at bars and the like so that all the cigarette butts don't end up on the floor. You can put your logo on them again!
A very decisive waste factor is the supply. Offering reusable options can save quite a bit of trash. Again, create an incentive for visitors to use this option. Those who do not have their own cups, plates, etc. should still have the choice of reusable dishes with a deposit system at the food trucks. This way you ensure that the dishes are returned or collected and redeemed by others. One option would be, for example, to give a discount if the customers bring their own containers and disposable containers are sanctioned. If it should be to-go, you can pack the food e.g. in our #IAMPLASTICFREE bags, thus plastic is saved here.
Our tip: For cups with handles, you can tie a ribbon to it and hang the cup around your neck as soon as it is empty. Then it does not have to be held all the time and makes the whole thing just a bit less complicated.
With food trucks, you can also make sure that they use regional and seasonal foods. Leftover products can then be donated to organizations with a need.
A typical cliché about festivals is that there is only canned food for five days. These are often left over and simply left on the campsites. This not only creates trash, but also a lot of food waste.
A great idea to counteract this waste and make the luggage a lot lighter again is to integrate a supermarket on the festival site. This does not have to contain the complete assortment, but can rather resemble a corner store. It would be super, if you can get a lot of unpacked and so reduce the plastic waste again.
To do something against all the packaging, solid shampoo and shower soaps can also be included in the range. A further highlight is plastic-free and vegan glitter, because glitter may be missing actually on no festival. In addition, water dispensers on the site can save thousands of water bottles!
Advertise it on your homepage so that people don't arrive with dozens of cans beforehand. Go ahead and make them aware of food waste and promote your supermarket.
If you end up with more packaging than you hoped for, there is the possibility to offer workshops. One topic could be "recycling and upcycling".
In the workshops you can start cool projects from old plastic waste and thus create more awareness for today's consumption. In this way, you directly create a recycling of the accumulated waste and give the otherwise short-lived plastic products a second life. Or you could offer workshops where you learn to do without more plastic in everyday life, e.g. you make your own beeswax cloths as a substitute for cling film. There are no limits to your creativity in these workshops.
The festival is over and still some tents, sleeping mats and sleeping bags have been left behind? Then don't throw them away, but turn to organizations like Hanseatic-Help. This organization was founded to collect leftover tents and the like from the festival grounds and then clean and refurbish them. Once they have done this, they distribute the items to those in need, giving the leftovers a second life.
If, despite the supermarket, there is still a massive amount of canned food left over, it makes sense to set up a canned food station. There the visitors*innen can lighten their luggage after the festival and the collected tins can be donated e.g. to charity organizations or e.g. to the next food bank.
So there are several ways to make your festival more environmentally friendly!
- Green electricity, recycled / natural materials for stage construction and decoration.
- LED energy saving lamps / solar powered light chains
- Vacuum toilets
- Green camping zones / Green'n'Clean award
- Awareness via homepage, online store and forum → Packing list to download
- Promote bus and train, long-distance buses from surrounding stations
- Carpooling and special trains with couchette compartment
- Own drinking cups, plates and cutlery
- Regional organic food trucks with reusable options
- #IAMPLASTICFREE drinking straws
- Water dispensers
- Litter deposit and trash systems on the festival grounds
- Pocket ashtrays
- Own supermarket with #IAMPLASTICFREE bags, unpacked cosmetics
- Workshops with upcycling options
Organizations and projects worth supporting:
- Viva con Agua, Collecting deposits and donating them to water projects worldwide.
- Die Tafel, takes leftover food and canned goods and distributes them to those in need
- Hanseatic-Help collects and distributes leftover tents, sleeping bags and sleeping mats
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