July 07, 2019

Glastonbury goes plastic free: A new era for sustainable festivals?

What do you think of when you imagine the biggest and best of British music festivals? Alcohol, all night dancing, days spent in a dazed hungover? Sustainability?

Glastonbury is setting new trends, aiming to influence both festival goers and large corporations to be more sustainable. 

This year, the festival at Worth Farm hosted around 200,000 people over its five day duration, making it for a brief period the  3rd largest city in the South West. 

There seems little question that many people’s attitudes have changed over recent years towards climate change. 

Glastonbury is now playing its part in transitioning us all to a greener future, showing it is possible to host large scale sustainable events.

Glastonbury goes green and becomes a sustainable festival

Glastonbury’s official website called for attendees to  reuse, reduce, respect. Love the farm, leave no trace! 

Particularly high on the agenda was the commitment to go plastic free.

Glastonbury goes green - no plastic glastonbury

This green pledge wasn’t just empty words, its impact was noticeable.

No plastic bottles were sold on site, reducing the number of plastic bottles sold from 1 million in 2017 to zero in 2019. 

Instead, festival goers could buy canned water, were supplied with wooden cutlery, eat from paper plates and filled up bottles from the 850 water points on site. 

Attendees were also urged to not use plastic, take rubbish home and leave no trace. 

And people seemed to listen. Amazingly,  99.3% of tents were taken home from the festival, more successful than any previous years. 


Clearance teams also noticed the difference.  They have commented that this year saw the least amount of plastic left on the site by a distance, confirming the successful efforts of the organisers to move towards a more sustainable festival.  

To cap off this green celebration, there was a surprise appearance from  Sir David Attenborough himself! He gave an emotional celebration of Glastonbury’s efforts and implored all those attending to continue to incorporate more conscious choices into their daily lives. 

Was Glastonbury truly plastic free?

As armies of workers  1,300 strong descend on the site to start the process of clearing the fields from the debris left behind, a process expected to take 6 weeks, can Glastonbury truly be considered a plastic free eco-success?

Still clearly visible are piles of plastic bottles, shopping bags, tents and camping chairs. 

Despite allowing no plastic to be sold within the festival, it is difficult to make this a completely plastic free event.

Until the places we buy our daily goods stop packaging necessities in non-recyclable or disposable wrapping, the truth is that we will struggle to move away from a completely plastic free world. 

Significance of a plastic free Glastonbury

It is easy to forget how significant these changes at Glastonbury have been. 

Although there is still room for improvement, such as trying to encourage the on-site Co-op to sell only recyclable products, Glastonbury is leading the way in large scale anti-plastic events. 

The next steps will be to encourage individuals to change how they shop and what they bring onto the site. 

Until convenience is no longer key and shops better enable us to ditch the throwaway lifestyle that pervades our current culture, we will continue to bring short-life disposable products to our festivals. 

This means that each year,  23,500 tonnes of waste are produced in the UK from music festivals alone. 

It is one of Cariki’s goals to help you lead a more sustainable lifestyle. We will soon be exploring what you can do to lower your carbon footprint, and the products you can buy to cut down your impact on the environment.

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