One festival tent uses as much plastic as 22 Coldplay LPs, 200 bottles and 9,000 straws

19 June 2024

How to be a green (hu)man at any UK music festival.

  • UK music festivals will generate around 26,000 tonnes of waste this year – more than the weight of 2,000 Routemaster buses – just a third of this will be recycled.
  • A typical festival tent uses the same amount of plastic as 8,750 straws, 200 bottles or 22 Coldplay records*.
  • Recycle Now recommends simple steps to help festival goers cut their carbon footprints at any UK festival.

With an estimated 210,000 fans expected to attend Glastonbury next week – double the population of the nearby city of Bath – environmental campaign Recycle Now is advising some simple steps for anyone attending a festival to cut their festival footprint and have a greener experience.

Craig Stephens, Senior Campaign Manager Recycle Now – WRAP, “The UK has some of the best music festivals in the world, and we’re already seeing another incredible summer of live music unfold. Festival organisers have a key part to play in preparing for a more eco-conscious festival, but it’s also down to individual festivalgoers too. Despite the huge impact tens of thousands of people arriving at an outdoor location can have, it’s surprisingly easy to have an eco-friendly festival.”

Quick steps to minimise your festival footprint

High on the must-take list is the essential tent. Every year, more than 250,000 tents** are abandoned across UK music festivals causing a huge issue for organisers, and a bigger one for the environment. Depending on size, a typical four-person tent (4.8kg) can use the same amount of plastic as nearly 9,000 plastic straws, 200 (500ml) plastic bottles or 22 Coldplay LPs. Because they’re incredibly difficult to recycle, most abandoned tents are destined for landfill or incineration if they can’t be re-used or donated to charities.

It’s always best to take your tent home or, if you’re not a regular camper and don’t own a tent – borrow equipment from friends or family. Another option is companies that make recyclable tents designed for festivals, or renting a tent via the festival organisers. And if you do buy one for a festival, make sure to donate it afterwards so it can be reused. 

A bit of planning will help reduce the amount of waste you accumulate on site. For example, taking a few items of cutlery can avoid using disposable ones, and packing washing up liquid and a tea towel means you can easily reuse them. A bar of soap and a flannel means you can ditch plastic based wet wipes, which aren’t biodegradable.

Reading up on what’s available at the site – alongside who’s playing - will help you recycle like a rockstar. A bag by your tent to collect recycling means you can easily dispose of it all in one go. Cigarette butts are a major litter problem for festivals and go in the general rubbish bins. If you vape, reusable options are more sustainable than disposable vapes which will go to landfill or incineration. Out and about, if you know there’s a water tap you can refill your bottle and avoid single-use plastic bottles. And knowing the recycling points can be as important as the location of the Portaloos, especially at home time. A reusable coffee cup as standard packing avoids disposable cups and many stands offer a discount for doing so!

What to wear is an essential factor of your trip and the weather forecast will help with whether its wellies or sandals – neither should be binned at the end when they can be recycled/reused at home. Taking a waterproof jacket is better than a disposable poncho on the go. And if you’re looking for a new outfit, pre-loved platforms are a headliner for festival fashion, from a sustainability perspective. If you’re a glitter fan, please opt for the biodegradable kind to avoid microplastics.

The best way to reach a festival from an environmental perspective is by public transport. Many festivals operate shuttle buses to the site from nearby train or bus stations, and bigger ones may have coaches running from larger cities, so it’s worth looking into. Another environmentally friendly mode of transport is the classic carshare with friends.

Craig Stephens, “Many bands are looking at minimising the impact touring has on the planet, which should encourage festivalgoers to do the same. Knowing we’re doing our bit to cut the carbon footprint of a festival is a great feeling and really doesn’t require much effort.”


  • If you are looking at the topic of festivals, Recycle Now has experts who can discuss recycling at festivals and tips people can use in preparation, and once at the festival, to enjoy the event and curb our personal carbon footprint.


Notes to Editor