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The Problem with Festival Fashion

Camping in general promotes use-once culture, single-use plastic in tents and domestic items like plastic cups and straws. But how does this effect fashion?

Social media sites like Instagram instigate this use-once culture of festivals. Every summer our feeds are flooded with pics of people donning short shorts and bucket hats. Each year the pressure is on to find a perfect outfit to match what’s currently on trend.

Fast fashion and festivals

According to a survey run by The Independent, one in four said they embarrassed wearing an outfit to a special occasion more than once. This is very common for festival goers who use every opportunity to grab a quick outfit pic for Instagram.

However the constant outfit swapping is having a detrimental effect on the environment. Each year shopping for one-use pieces to wear to festivals accounts for £307 million worth of items. At least £140 million of this huge figure will end up in landfill, this is only including figures just in the UK.

The fashion industry has developed a model strikingly similar to single-use plastic. These items are made unethically and using non-sustainable methods. In the last 15 years production of clothing has doubled and the amount of times an item is worn before being thrown out has decreased by 35%.

One tip for re-wearing old items is to style them with new different pieces. Try pattern mixing, adding different accessorises, trying out different hair and make-up looks. You can change the whole vibe of the outfit using these simple tips.

Or if your feeling adventurous then you can try re-working old pieces into something new. Try cropping old T-shirts or jeans. Tie-dyeing pieces of clothing can a really fun and simple way to create new pieces from something you no longer reach for.

Want to read more on single-use fashion? Click here.

Brands pledging to make a difference

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) is a non-profit organisation which aims to give independent festivals a voice and creates initiatives to create a more positive festival culture. Two great initiatives started by the company were Take your Tent Home and Drastic on Plastic.

Each year an estimated 250,000 tents are left at festivals. The AIF pleaded with retailers such as Argos, Tesco and Amazon to stop selling single-use tents as this was amounting to around 900 tons of plastic waste each year. This is a great company that also spreads awareness of sexual harassment and drug use at festivals. Check them out here.

One staple of festivals is face glitter, so why have 61 Music festivals banned the use glitter as of 2021? The sparkly cosmetic is made from microplastics. These are tiny plastics which can be ingested by wildlife, and can eventually cause them to die if it builds up in their system.

This can effect marine animals as when it gets washed away the glitter ends up in the oceans, or it can get blown away and come into contact with birds and other wildlife. It can even end up in our food supply if we eat fish that have ingested microplastics.

Some festivals accept biodegradable glitter. Bioglitter is a great option. It has the highest level of independent certification for freshwater biodegradability in the world and it is 96% biodegradable. There is also Ecostardust which is made from plant cellulose.

Sustainable alternatives

If you still want to buy new items for a festival here are some sustainable options.

Oxfam has a Depop shop exclusively selling festival items. Here you can buy affordable, fashionable and most importantly sustainable items for your wardrobe, perfect for any festival. Shopping on sites like Depop is a great way to support the circular economy and find niche items to make sure you stand out.

Another option is to borrow items from friends. This means the amount of wears from one fast fashion item can double in one event. It also means you won’t need to spend money on new items, keeping items you will only wear for that one event or worrying about ordering online and returning items which don’t fit.

Break out of the wear-once mentality and stop the pollution of microplastics and landfills in it’s tracks.


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