With the banning of plastic from all Live Nation’s venues and festivals and a general change in attitudes across the globe, we saw a massive shift in the ecology of music festivals this summer. Inviting tens of thousands of festivalgoers to a green space where they will be eating, drinking, and celebrating is a recipe to produce a bit of rubbish. In the past, festivals have been known to produce tonnes of waste, which was contradicting most of their ethos to create a safe and beautiful atmosphere for their community. Is causing heaps of pollution really what’s best for us?

dirty festival grounds

This awareness sparked a trend. Festivals are going green. While some festivals are veterans of sustainability, we’re happy to see the rest jumping on the bandwagon. These days, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a single-use cup or plastic straw and are likely to stumble across eco-toilets and solar-powered stages. With ultra-dedicated cleanup crews and guiding principles to leave no trace, festivals are stepping up and doing their part to keep our earth clean so we can enjoy the festival season, guilt and pollution-free for years to come.

Check these five super-green festivals making it their mission to leave as small of a carbon footprint as they possibly can.

Shambala – UK

Shambala is a bucket list festivals for so many reasons. Not only does it boast one of the best line-ups of electronic music artists with epic production, dance parties, and activities, it is also one of the most eco-friendly festivals happening.

shambala festival green people

The grassroots festival in the UK is the gold standard for green initiatives of European festivals. They have reduced their carbon footprint by 80% and are 100% powered by renewable resources; veggie oil, solar panels, and hybrid units.

Shambala has completely eliminated their use of single-use plastics and 80% of recyclables are recycled. All tickets include a £10 “Recycling Deposit” which attendees are refunded once they return their bagged recyclables and other waste upon vacating the campsite.

As Shambala knows that to become completely plastic-free requires the help of their attendees, they have started the conversation of how festivalgoers can do their part by steering clear of glitter, plastic and one-time use costumes, and disposable menstrual products. Although they provide reusable drink cups for purchased beverages, they encourage festivalgoers to bring their own.

shambala festival recycling

Absolutely no fish or meat is served at the festival, reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 100 tonnes, yearly. Vendors are also required to serve only organic dairy products and eggs, local fruits and veg, fairtrade bananas, coffee, and tea, and are restricted from selling Nestle or Coca-Cola products. All food is served on 100% compostable plates. Beer and wine are hyper-local and almost 90% of both are vegan.

Burning Man – USA

Burning Man, the place for radical free spirits and electronic music lovers to go and spend 7 days dancing in the desert, is the epitome of a festival with a conscious.

burning man festival sign

Burning Man operates on 10 guiding principles, one of which is ‘leave no trace’. Their site details an in-depth guide of how to make your Burn a green one. A lot of sustainability is reliant on the Burners. While the festival takes precautions and provides ways to recycle, compost, and deal with waste, it is up to the attendees to leave the Playa cleaner than when they got there.

burning man festival clean up

Anything that wasn’t on the Playa prior to Burning Man is considered MOOP, or Matter Out Of Place, and MOOP can’t stay. This means no water, waste, debris, or plants can hit the Playa floor. MOOP line sweeps are a regular occurrence and it wouldn’t be odd to see someone vacuuming up their campsite. Recycle Camp is where you can head to hand in all your recyclables. If you have leftover wood or building materials, Burners without Burners is happy to take your donations that will aid them when rebuilding communities that have been hit with a disaster.

Burning Man’s organizers have also released Burning Man Project: 2030 Environmental Sustainability Roadmap, a manifesto on how the festival plans to be completely carbon-negative, ecologically regenerative, and sustainably manage their waste by 2030.

In addition to their own, Burning Man is engaged in many initiatives including Earth Guardians, The Green Man, and is the largest “Leave No Trace” event worldwide.

Pohoda Festival – Slovakia

Slovakia’s biggest music event brings all music lovers together. Pohoda Festival is where bass heads and techno junkies can dance their hearts out through the night and listen to mellow alternative and rock during the day.

pohoda festival

It is also self-proclaimed Europe’s greenest festival. Winner of the Green Operations Award at the European Festival Awards in 2017 and commended for their green efforts by A Greener Festival in 2018, Pohoda takes a lot of pride in their sustainable initiatives.

Lit by solar energy, the festival partners with local energy providers to plug stages and stands to the main grid, creating a mobile power unit. It calculates each attendee consumes 0.22L of fuel, which is 38% of consumption at a typical festival.

Focussed on proper waste management, there are 17 separation points, a collection of raw materials, and even a spot to separate old toothbrushes. Only reusable cups are used to serve drinks and all plates and utensils are 100% compostable. They’ve even gone as far as to ban festival tents.

pohoda festivals cups

Partnering with the national train company, they are doing their part to encourage festivalgoers to travel consciously and suggest rideshares, festival busses, and carpooling (#spolunapohodu). Staff and performers are provided with bicycles so they can get around the grounds greenly.

Northside Festival – Denmark

Northside Festival operates with the mantra “lead the way” and they follow it in all senses from music lineup, production, sustainability, and food served. Kaytranada and Major Lazer were just a few of the epic acts that took the stage this summer.

Since 2017, Northside Festival has been serving 100% organic food, including wine and champagne, while beer is closely following at 94%.

northside festivals food

The festival has absolutely no parking for vehicles. This means festivalgoers must walk, bike, or take public transportation to get there. Transport is a huge contributor to emissions at festivals and Northside has completely eliminated this problem.

As Northside is mostly comprised of wooden structures, since 2013 they have launched a fundraiser for Verdens Skove for which they raise money to restore the rainforest and have so far preserved 31.6 hectares of forest. All paper and cardboard materials must be sustainably certified and be sorted and decomposed properly.

northside festivals garbage cans

Northside Festival has won A Greener Festival award more than once and continues to work to improve all sustainability initiatives.

Wonderfruit – Thailand

In December, for its 6th, year, Wonderfruit will return to Pattaya, Thailand, reimagined as a sustainable pop-up city, completely engrossed in keeping its ecological footprint as small as possible.

The Thai festival is the ultimate destination for electro lovers who want to catch the likes of Acid Pauli, Massive Attack’s Daddy G, and Craig Richards playing on stages consciously crafted by artists who competed to create the most innovative, sustainable and evolved stages possible.

The carbon-neutral festival (certified and all), runs as a pop-up city. They are aware of the detrimental effects traditional festivals can have on the environment and have pledged to combat this. All stages built and art displayed are created with local and sustainable materials including rubbish, bamboo, and hemp. Whenever possible, energy is generated from renewable sources. All food is served on compostable plates and is sourced and grown locally. Single-use plastics are banned. Water is filtered from the natural lakes. Food is composted on-site and over 10,000 mangrove trees have been planted to offset all carbon emissions.

wonderfruit festivals garbage cans

They call their movement and attention to conscious living “Hedonistic Sustainability”. Wonderfruit uses its influential platform to inspire its attendees and others to be more aware of their behaviors and find fun, innovative ways to protect the environment.

Wonderfruit has adopted the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and work with initiatives including the Ocean Recovery Alliance, Plastic Pollution Coalition, and Greenpeace.

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Support the festivals that are making it their mission to be as clean and green as possible. We love the festival life and want future generations to enjoy it in years to come.

Do your part in keeping your favorite festivals green. Check out how to go plastic-free at your next festival.