Are you dreaming of the day that you’ll be hearing sweet sounds and dancing again in beautiful scenery? Us too. Luckily, some great festivals are not only going ahead in 2021, but they are values-led too.
We love festivals that not only entertain us but also leave no trace behind. Here are our top picks for sustainable music festivals in 2021.
Please note that on the day of publication, some of these festivals are going ahead. Still, we recommend you consult with the festival websites as these are subject to change or cancellation in compliance with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Pioneering sustainable music festivals
Sustainability and architecture are strong influences for this festival taking place just outside of Milan. The restoration in 2018 of the ancient labyrinths that were present on the festival grounds and the planting of 500 trees around it is a particular highlight.
They have a comprehensive method to ensure low impact by carefully considering everything from water usage to attendees travel to and from the venue. The unique approach to architecture is achieved by repurposing old stages into the new designs, and any excess is turned into secondary items such as benches, tables and showers.
The well-known Dutch festival brand aims to become the world’s first economically circular festival. It is a regenerative approach that focuses on many various aspects. A great example of this is sourcing imperfect foods from local suppliers to save waste. And by creating menus around the local supply rather than to serve every possible (and usually ridiculous) desire.
They are close to becoming a climate-neutral event in terms of energy usage. It will be a significant milestone in their vision of festivals becoming circular. They even go as far as having their performers stay in the eco-friendly circular hotel Jakarta.
Northside festival prides itself on becoming the first major festival with 100% green power. The mandate from inception was to reflect a green profile. A radical scheme that also sees all its food & alcohol 100% organic, with the only exception being beer, at 94%.
There is no car park associated with or attached to the venue, and attendees need to take public transport or cycle to join in the fun. The third pillar of the founding principles is their dedication to the materials they use. They are actively involved in rainforest regeneration in Nicaragua to compensate for the stage building. At the same time, all their packaging, posters and flyers are sustainable.
Making Sustainable Progress
Green Man Festival
Green Man is a Welsh festival that takes sustainability seriously. They’ve thought about everything from; donating camping equipment, composting loos, supporting local businesses, solar charging for phones, and eco-friendly food packaging.
Travel to and from the Green Man festival is well thought out. If you buy a train ticket as part of your festival package, they’ll subsidise 15%. If you want to be even greener, you can join a cycling trip with Red Fox Cycling for a £10 discount. They also encourage people to carpool where possible. They’ve had some great line-ups in the past, and we’re looking forward to this year’s festival.
The Oxfordshire based festival offers some similar eco-friendly initiatives to Green Man Festival, including Red Fox Cycling and camping equipment donations for refugees in need. They’re among the festivals that joined the Last Straw Campaign 2018, and they only use biodegradable confetti and glitter at the festivals.
Wilderness festival partners with the Oxford Food Bank, and in 2018 they stopped 5 tonnes of food waste going to landfills. To ensure the festival areas are maintained, they don’t allow inflatables in the lake and encourage all festival-goers to use shoe scrubbers to protect their venue from environmental harm.
Splendour in the Grass
This Aussie festival keeps its footprint light by encouraging public transport, ride-sharing, BYO reusable cups, and general waste reduction. Splendour in the Grass 2021 started its own Green Offset fund to create Australia’s first solar garden.
In collaboration with companies, they are now working with the traditional owners of Byron Bay (the Arakwal people) on new solar projects. However, a large part of their environmental policy is accountability. The onus doesn’t rest on the festival to clean up after its participants. They encourage you to take your sh*t home; for good karma and generally be a good person, mate. You will also be treated to class Australian acts and loads of big international names.
Burning Man and all its regional events revolve around sustainability and community. While it’s unclear whether the event will go ahead this year, it makes this list for being one of the first sustainable music festivals.
It is driven by gifting and making sure that you leave no trace. Everything you take to the festival must also be taken away – by you. Some teams work to make the festival happen, but the onus is really on the festival goer (or ‘burner’) to be as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible.
Burning Man requires a lot of planning, including figuring out how much water you’ll need, but the event is more of an experience than a ‘festival’. Sure, there’s music and lots of interactive installations, but there is no money exchanged at the festival, and they encourage ‘burners’ to bring things along that they can gift to others. It’s a genuinely unique experience focused on zero waste.
Pohoda festival is actively paving the way for reducing carbon emissions at European festivals. Reducing the number of people, installing electric car charging stations, and using solar power is just some of its actions. Their waste separation is super extensive and includes a unique separation facility for old toothbrushes.
They have also drastically reduced water use with eco-friendly alternatives and encourage sustainable merchandise options, including getting festival graphics printed on clothing you already own. There’s also a strong sense of community, such as excluding VIP zones and reducing the number of people in attendance, so everyone has enough room.
These are just a few of the sustainable music festivals that will go ahead in 2022. We encourage you to stay local; wherever you are in the world, there should be some tremendous sustainable music festivals to enjoy.