Summer is here, which means it’s also the season of summer festivals and fairs! Minnesota has a wealth of fun festivals and events for all ages to attend, from music festivals like the Basilica Block Party, regional art and food fairs, to themed festivals like Twin Cities Pride and the Renaissance Festival. Many people will be traveling across the country as well this summer to attend their favorite summer festivals.
These festivals and fairs are valuable and fun experiences, but can have a significant environmental impact, from the transportation it takes to get there, the amount of waste festivals produce, the energy it takes to power the festivals, and much more.
You can make your summer festival-going experience greener while having just as much fun. Read on for some easy and fun tips to make your trip to your summer festival more sustainable.
Make your perfect festival outfit sustainable
For many festivals, like Pride, a Renaissance Festival, or trendy music festivals, a fun way to participate is to come with the perfect festival outfit. While it’s tempting to buy this season’s newest festival looks, this “fast fashion” has a huge environmental impact. Textile dyeing is the second highest contributor to global water pollution behind agriculture, and 10.5 million tons of textiles ended up in U.S. landfills in 2015 alone, with only a 15.3% recycling rate. For your festival outfit, consider these more sustainable options to lessen your clothes’ environmental impact.
Go shopping at second-hand clothing stores. There are second-hand clothing stores of all kinds where you can find cool vintage items, old costumes, and fun rainbow gear for all your festival needs. Your new unique outfit will also be preventing those clothes from entering the landfill. Check out this CityPages article to find out about second-hand clothing stores in the Twin Cities.
Borrow your family or friends’ old clothes and accessories. If you have friends or family who have attended your festival before, or who simply have great fashion sense, they may have clothing items that you can easily repurpose for your summer festival outfit.
Make your own outfits and costumes. If you are crafty, you can try making your outfit out of scrap fabrics, or make your own accessories out of reused materials. You can make this a fun activity to do with your friends or family before the festival! Find some inspiration at this article about clothes made from recycled items.
Buy sustainably made clothing. Some clothing companies are dedicated to producing clothes from recycled or sustainably produced materials to reduce their carbon impact. If you are buying brand new clothes, consider checking out one of these brands.
Take alternative transportation to your festival
In 2017, transportation contributed 29% to the United States’ total greenhouse gas emissions, the most of any other greenhouse gas producing sector. Besides the environmental impact, parking is often hard to find and usually quite expensive at summer festivals and fairs. Taking alternative methods to get to your summer festival not only helps the planet, it saves you money and stress.
Travel with a group of people. Many rural festivals provide free or low-cost shuttles to the fair-grounds, or carpool incentives for people traveling in groups. Carpooling with family and friends reduces the number of cars heading to the festival and gives you time to get pumped up together for your festival experience.
Ride your bike. Biking is healthy for you, the planet, and allows you to bypass the stressful traffic congestion that often accompanies festivals.
Take public transit. Many festivals and fairs are located in urban areas where public transit is an easy, cheap, and accessible option. In the Twin Cities, Metro Transit sometimes offers free rides to summer festivals, so be sure to check your festival’s website for special transit deals.
Offset your carbon footprint. If you are traveling out of state, consider offsetting your carbon impact by volunteering for a local restoration program with a group of friends, or if you are able, donating to an environmental organization of your choice.
Reduce your waste
In 2017, Minnesota sent nearly 3.2 million tons of trash to landfills and incinerators. Don’t let your summer festival experience contribute to our state and country’s waste!
Bring your own water bottle. Many Minnesotan festivals are open to people bringing their own food and water, and some even have water bottle refilling stations. Bringing your own water bottle instead of buying bottled water reduces plastic waste and saves you money.
Recycle and compost. Seek out recycling and compost bins at your festival to sort your waste into. If there aren’t recycling or compost bins and it’s feasible, consider carrying out any recyclable waste to recycle at home.
Think twice before taking free giveaways. Summer festivals are full of opportunities to get free giveaways like pens, bracelets, etc. Many of these items will eventually end up in our waste stream. It’s great if you know you are getting something that you will use, but think twice before taking every free item vendors and festival hosts offer to attendees.
Buy locally made items and art made out of sustainable materials. Minnesota has a plethora of fun art fairs hosted throughout the summer. Support your local artists and artisans, especially those using local materials and repurposing “trash” into fun art!
Bring your own reusable bag. If you know you plan to purchase merchandise or souvenirs at the festival, bring a bag so you won’t have to use a plastic one.
Eat local and sustainable food
Ask your vendors if they supply compostable dishes/utensils. Even if they don’t have them, if people show an interest it may encourage these vendors to supply compostable dishware in the future.
Bring your own reusable utensils and dishware. If vendors do not supply compostable dishware, or if there is no place to compost or recycle, this is an easy way to reduce your waste while eating out. You can make your own kit with reusable eating utensils, cloth napkin, straw, and plate or container, or purchase ready-made kits.
Support local or organic food vendors. Buying food from local and/or organic vendors reduces the transportation and environmental costs of your food and supports your local economy.
Challenge yourself to eat vegetarian at your festival. Meat production contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and requires more water than plant-based foods. Many festivals have a wide variety of food trucks and stands with vegetarian alternatives for you to explore.
Bring your own food from home. While food is an integral part of some festival experiences, for others you can participate just as much by bringing your own food from home in reusable containers. This saves you money, reduces your waste, and gives you the opportunity to eat healthier, more sustainable foods that may not be available at your festival.
Support green festival policies
Seek out sustainable music festivals. If you like to go to larger music festivals across the country during the summer, you can find festivals that have green policies. For more information check out this article about eco-friendly music festivals.
Volunteer to help your festival be more sustainable. Especially if it’s a local festival, help and suggestions are often welcome. Organizers can go to the Green Festivals website for tips on how to green their festival. This website has checklists organized by category and by the amount of effort each option takes. Plastic Free Pride has tips specifically for Pride Festival organizers, participators, and visitors.
Give feedback. On visitor feedback forms, make sure you write about how important green festival policies are to you as part of your festival-going experience. This is also an opportunity to give specific suggestions to the organizers.
For more information
Contact your festival. Ask them about their sustainable practices.
Talk to volunteers. Some festivals have master recyclers/composters at their events, standing ready by recycling and compost bins to help you sort your waste. Ask them questions!
Talk to an environmental information table. Some festivals have environmental information stands, or booths run by local environmental organizations that you can speak with or learn more from.
Visit the Eco Experience. Remember to come check out the Eco Experience building at the Minnesota State Fair this summer! Come explore exhibits dedicated to sustainable living, and watch presentations throughout the day on the Sustainability Stage with more easy tips and tricks to live sustainably.
Do more research. Find more general tips for festival goers on the Green Festivals website.