Every year 3.17 million people attend music festivals and this influences the environment at the cost of peoples indulgences. With Summer approaching and the excitement of the UK beginning to ‘re-open’, festivals are a seemingly possible event, meaning it’s important to consider your actions when attending these festivals, and the impact you have on our environment. Rising attention on the impacts of festivals on the environment has led both the industry and individuals to take positive steps to rein in their carbon footprint and become more conscious of their actions. 

Firstly, transport plays a significant factor in harming the environment. When travelling to festivals, according to ‘The Show Must Go On’, it constitutes to 80% of a festival's overall CO2 emissions. However this figure doesn’t take into account the travel of artists, crew or service travel and transport. Transport options include coach, train, camper van ad lift charge, as well as the most popular travel choice, a car.

However there are more impactful things to consider when thinking about festivals and the harm caused to the environment. For example, 5 million litres of fuel are used over the course of the UK festival period each year, which includes using power to generate electricity for the whole site during the environnement. Moreover, 85% of this fuel is diesel- with the average person using 0.6% litres per day, meaning 65% is of emissions and reproduction is onsite. An IPCC report in 2018 states that ‘in order to keep below 2ºC of warming we will need to drastically decarbonise our energy supply [...] and adopt efficiency measures’, Fortunately, in 2015 65% of festival organisers said that they’re tackling energy use as one of their top three environmental priorities and over 50% of the events were using waste vegetable oil biodiesel (WVO) with a total consumption on 15% WVO alongside 85% diesel.

Continuously, waste is a major and arguably the worst and biggest impact of festivals. A staggering 23,500 tonnes of waste are generated every year at festivals and a study shows that 68% off which directly goes to landfill. This is extremely harmful to the environment as it is mostly composed of single-use plastics such as bottles, straws and food trays, as well as micro plastic pollution in the form of glitter and toiletries. Unbelievably, around 2.8KG waste is produced per person per day at a festival, where it all nods up buried in a landfill and unable to recover valuable energy that could’ve been used to transport and refine them. In response, the alternative to landfill is sending waste to an incinerator, where small amounts of energy is generated from the heat. This promotes the ‘zero waste to landfill’ message however only reduces the environmental impact by a marginal amount as the energy from the raw materials is still lost. As well as this, festivals began to partner with Eco-Products and Clean Vibes to convert 180 tons of food waste and packaging into compost.

According to The Show Must Go On, a report from Powerl Thinking finds that ‘British festivals produce 23,500 tonnes of waste, use 5 million tonnes of fuel and emit 20,000 tonnes of CO2 every year. Consumers make a difference by taking reign of their actions and doing simple things that produce collective results on a large scale. For example, taking a reusable water bottle to the vent, taking away rubbish when leaving the area and taking public transport to the site if possible, to reduce the amount of cars- further decreasing the amount of carbon dioxide produced by individuals.

Finally, water consumption is something that needs to be considered when exploring the impacts of festivals on the environment. Consumer campaign ‘Which?’ Estimated that the number of plastic bottles sent to landfill each year in the UK could fill Wembley stadium twice. The total estimated water used by UK festivals annually is around 107,330m³, as well as 37 tonnes of CO2e produced due to water. Methods to reduce water consumption at events are somewhat simple and include using water-saving taps (e.g sprinkler/push taps), where capacity limiters are installed in order to prevent leaks and water wastage.