Festivals going green

* 4 min read
We’re coming to an end of the music festival season; thousands of people have been enjoying the hot UK summer and celebrating to the sounds of their favourite artists. With this typically comes a huge amount of waste and we reflect on what UK festivals have to offer when it comes to top eco-friendly credentials.

Reading and Leeds

These two festivals are run by Festival Republic, one of the first providers to focus on events which strive to deliver the least amount of environmental impact possible. Both festivals have managed to reduce their emissions and waste year on year by working very closely with Julie’s Bicycle, a London-based charity that supports the creative community to act on climate change and sustainability. 

Recognising that energy generation is one of the biggest sources of carbon dioxide emissions here in the UK and globally Reading and Leeds took the step to replace all their tower and festoon lights with LED’s, which are 95 per cent more environmentally friendly than fluorescent and incandescent lights. Many other festivals are also following suit with this move.

Festival Republic has also united with the Greenpeace events team to help reduce the amount of plastic pollution. All plastic bottles and cups bought at the festivals will have a 10p refundable deposit. What better way to earn a beer than to gather up a few bits of plastic eh?  

Leeds festival stage


Although Glastonbury has taken a break in 2018 it still boasts the ultimate British festival experience and is definitely worth a mention for its recent sustainability efforts. Founded in 1970 it is the largest greenfield festival in the world and attracts over 175,000 people every year. Plenty of people, however means plenty of waste so the festival has created a number of ways to strengthen its green policies. Glastonbury promotes “reduce, reuse and recycle” prompting visitors to responsibly bring items that don’t end up in landfill.

The festival has also taken a keen interest in renewable energy sources; the whole of the Theatre & Circus and Shangri-La areas are powered completely by solar panels, and all the cafes, stalls and stages above the old railway line are powered by sun or wind; there are no diesel generators. Showers are also solar powered, and the festival has the largest number of compost toilets anywhere in the world, totalling over 1200.  



Shambala is held annually at a secret Northamptonshire location and since beginning in 1998 it has managed to reduce its carbon footprint by over 80% and has achieved 100% renewable power by using a mix of waste vegetable oil generators, solar, and hybrid units.

They have also eradicated disposable plastics, banning the sale of plastic water bottles on site, encouraging festival-goers to bring refillable bottles, they only have reusable cups across the festival and there are no plastic straws, while all food bought on site is served on compostable cardboard and wooden serve-ware. 



First held in July 2006, Latitude is another festival run by Festival Republic, so has again strong ties to Julie’s Bicycle. Visitors travelling to festivals make up whopping 80 per cent of the total carbon emissions generated. This is why Latitude and others have partnered with Big Green Coach, who are not only saving on carbon emissions for festival goers but for every customer who books they sponsor and protect 5 square foot of Amazonian Rainforest for 10 years. 1 million square foot has already been saved! As well as this the festival offers visitors Liftshare to find drivers offering spaces in their cars or visitors who need a lift.

The festival's waste strategy is fantastically thought out. They use a high volume of bio-diesel, and recycling is top on their agenda, even providing campers with waste kits, to ensure little waste ends up in landfill and it's clearly working because for the third year running none of Latitude's waste went to landfill, 59 per cent was recycled and 41 per cent went to energy.


Bestival and Camp Bestival

Set up in 2004 and recently relocating to the Lulworth Estate in Dorset, Bestival plays host to a hugely diverse line-up, including comedy, theatre and of course live music. The festival also plays host to some brilliantly creative initiatives around sustainability, such as the Bestival Eco-bond. The bond is added when you buy tickets as a fully refundable £10 litter surcharge. To claim your money back you simply present a clear bag of recycling and a refuse bag full of litter to the litter station in the campsite.


It seems UK festivals have come a long way in terms of sustainability and green initiatives and we look forward to what new environmental innovations they come up with in the future.