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What Our Festival ‘fits' Cost the Environment

I am a sucker for a good festival. I have been to Leeds Festival in 2017 and 2019. Every time, I have had the time of my life.

In the weeks leading up to it, my friends and I would shop till we dropped. Buying copious amounts of cheap clothing, that of course looked good.

And that feeling of being under the scorching sun (with a hint of dehydration) is nearby. Sequins, glitter, fishnets, bucket hats, bralettes – you name it, we can wear anything we want without judgement.

But what is it costing our environment?

In a 2019 report, it was found that:

“Single-use outfits for music festivals, such as Glastonbury and Coachella, alone, account for approximately $307 million worth of items per year or about 7.5 million outfits worn only once.” Censuswide on behalf of charity Bernardo’s

Pretty shocking, isn’t it? In a relating article, it has been found that one in four of those that took part in the Censuswide and Bernardo’s survey, would be embarrassed to re-wear particular outfits. With 37% being from the younger generation.

These clothes ultimately spend what feels like an eternity in our wardrobes. Or we simply throw them out, not thinking about where we are actually sending them. When you discard of your clothes, they end up in landfills, where they decompose for more than 200 years. Imagine that? Your pretty-sparkly top that got 300 likes on Instagram being banished for good.

So, let’s take a closer look at the festival outfits we wear, and what we can do to change.

Coachella Festival

The world-famous American festival is popular for its boho-chic aesthetic. Celebrities and socialites alike would sport the most stylish outfits and throw them our way on social media.

People are spending thousands of pounds on these outfits to get the most ‘Insta-worthy’ snaps. The modern it-girl tends to be seen at festivals like Coachella, where they convey a care-free lifestyle with the occasional messy bun.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, these outfits are incredible. But little do a handful of these festival goers know, is exactly what their outfits cost. And that’s not how much they cost to buy, but how much they are costing the environment.

Mesh, tassels, the lot, are not exactly the most environmentally friendly materials. And many of the outfits seen above can easily be repurposed into something new.

British Festivals

You could certainly say that the UK’s festivals are just a ~little~ bit different in terms of style to Coachella. Outfits need to be paired with wellies, you see!

Over the years, the likes of Kate Moss and Sienna Miller have led the way when it comes to pairing a pair of wellies with a statement outfit. Whilst, at the likes of Leeds Festival or Creamfields, it is clear that the younger generation are dominating the scene with fishnets and glitter – and some very fitting combat boots.

Although our British festivals tend to be accompanied by mud most years, like Coachella we still manage to rock some pretty cool outfits. However, with fast fashion and a constantly moving world of trends, most outfits we wear get forgotten about (or weather damaged – wouldn’t be a festival without a bit of rain, would it?). Instead of washing clothes when you get home, a lot of people tend to throw out their smoky, muddy festival clothes.

Glitter and the Environment

With all of these amazing outfits, also comes glitter. We will sprinkle glitter into our carefully braided hair, slap it onto our faces, or sometimes all-over our chests. Glitter seems to be the unwritten rule of festivals, that added bit of sparkle seems to make everything seem that much better.

However, not only does glitter potentially pose a risk of a skin reaction, but they can seriously damage the environment.

Scientists have found that glitter used in cosmetics can seep into rivers, and end up in the sea. Glitter is made from plastic sheets, and these micro-plastics are literally polluting our oceans.

Unfortunately, they have also said that:

“Biodegradable alternatives are no better for the environment than conventional types of glitter.” BBC News

Simply washing the glitter off your face with water allows it to seep into our waterways. Eventually, they end up in our oceans, where aquatic life often mistakes it as food, which is causing concern for scientists.

Take a look at the video below to see some of the other products we use, that contain microplastics.

What you can do

Together, we can change the future of fashion at festivals. Why not re-wear the same outfits you wore the year before? Or repurpose them into something new?

If you remember when we covered Fashion + The Circular Economy, you may remember the many discussions on charity shops and up-cycling.

Charity shops

When you are done with a set of clothing, take them to a charity shop. Don’t just chuck them out!

As of today, there are currently 11,429 charity shops in the UK, which is:

  1. 9,437 in England

  2. 963 in Scotland

  3. 549 in Wales, and

  4. 300 in Northern Ireland.

So, there is plenty of choice of where you can donate your clothes.


You saw those outfits earlier on in the article. Some of them could easily be turned into something new. That mesh dress could be turned into a coordinating top and skirt, for instance.

The possibilities for our clothes are endless!


Last, but definitely not least, you could re-wear your clothes! There is no harm in re-wearing a previous outfit. There are so many ways you could change it if needs be. You could pair it with different accessories, style your hair in a different way or just keep it as it is.


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