Go to the grounds of a music festival after it comes to a close, and you’ll think you just arrived at the scene of an apocalypse with all the plastic that gets left behind. It’s the unfortunate downside of music festivals, which have become increasingly popular over the last few years. In fact, a survey from Deloitte this year found that at least 45 percent of 32 million millennials in America attend music festivals.
Having to essentially create mini-cities for the influx of people looking to dance, drink, eat, shop, and leave behind waste, festivals across the world have begun looking at their events as an opportunity to not only provide music fans with a memorable weekend, but also offer innovative ways to solve the problems of waste and pollution.
One example of a festival trying to clean up its act is Le Festival de Musique Émergente (FME), which takes place eight hours from Montreal. The festival takes place at a tree-heavy, lakeside copper mining community of 42,334 people. Although they removed plastic from the backstage areas several years ago, the festival has taken much bigger steps over the last few years. In 2019, the festival began reducing paper usage by replacing their programs with an app. It also implemented an “environmental tax” of $1.50 per person, a first for Canadian music festivals in the region. Those funds are then used to help protect the local environment. Other festivals are taking even more drastic steps to reduce their impact.
In Leeuwarden, Netherlands, one festival is building tents from compostable cardboard and servings burgers made from crickets. Meanwhile, in Helsinki, a major festival that attracts 83,000 people a year has gone “zero waste” through a team of 400 people who sort through all the waste by hand.
As festivals continue to grow in popularity, it’s encouraging to see festivals taking steps to make their celebrations more eco-friendly.