Seven Principles

Leave No Trace at Festivals

Celina Montorfano - January 12, 2022

Leave No Trace at your next Festival

With hope the new year will finally bring a return to normal, plans are underway to hold large outdoor festivals that had been canceled due to the pandemic.  One of the best things about the 7-principals is that they can be applied to anything that involves recreating in the outdoors.  Whether you have your sights set on a multi-day music festival or one celebrating your favorite way to get outside, read on to uncover tips to make sure you leave no trace at your next festival!

What should you know before you go?  Consider buying food from local suppliers or bringing it from home and be sure to repackage it into reusable containers before you arrive.  Try having reusable cups, plates, etc. on hand to reduce the amount of trash generated at the site.  As a last note, make sure to read through the festival’s website for any rules and regulations to make sure you know what to expect.

How about along trails or, for a multi-day experience, at our campsite?  It might be a neat idea to bring a bike along to travel to nearby areas rather than using your car for errands or supplies.  Additionally, consider calling up a friend and seeing if they would be open to carpooling.  Stick to designated routes to protect vegetation such as flowers, plants, and small trees.  Make sure to set up campsites in designated areas and remember that good sites are found, not made.  Bring along folding tables, chairs, and other amenities to make your site more comfortable.

What about trashing my trash?  Try to reuse items like plates, cups, and utensils if possible, and make sure to secure your belongings to keep the wind from making unintended litter.  Recycle whenever possible and set a good example for others attending the festival by doing your part to keep the area clean.  If you’re bringing a pet along be sure to have a plan, and the necessary supplies, to deal with your pet’s waste.  When packing up make sure to check the area for everything you brought to leave the area as good or even better than you found it.

Why is it important to leave it as you found it?  Cultural, historic, or natural objects should be left for others to enjoy.  Remember that the bark of a tree is like the skin of a human, if it is damaged it can open a gateway for pathogens and parasites and may cause the tree to die.  Lastly, be sure faucets are turned off when not in use to preserve water!

Don’t forget to be careful with fire.  If you will be preparing your own meals, consider a camp stove for cooking.  They are easier to cook on and create less impact than a campfire.  If campfires are allowed, be sure to source your wood locally to avoid transporting invasive species and make sure to use existing fire rings instead of creating new ones.  Be sure not to burn food or garbage in your fire.  Burning food can attract wildlife and garbage can release harmful carcinogens.  Before leaving a fire unattended, be sure to let all wood burn to embers and the embers burn to ash.

How can I keep wildlife wild?  Never follow or feed wildlife and always practice the thumb trick to give wildlife enough space.  Human food is unhealthy for wildlife and feeding them can result in dangerous habits being formed. Protect your food, and the local wildlife, by securely storing all food and trash.

What about other visitors?  If bringing a pet, be sure to keep it under control at all times to protect others and the local wildlife.  Respect the local community by being a model festival-goer to ensure nearby residents are happy to host again the following year.  When in doubt, follow the golden rule: treat others as you’d like to be treated.

With all these tips you’ll be the talk of the town the next time you go out of town to take part in a festival.  Although it may seem like a little thing to carpool or collect a loose bit of trash, it’s all the little things that really add up.

By the Subaru/Leave No Trace Teams. For over 20 years these teams have provided tangible solutions to serious issues facing our outside space and reach over 15 million people every year. Learn more about the important work of our mobile education teams.  Proud partners of this program include Subaru of AmericaREIEagles Nest Outfitters, ThuleFjällrävenThe Coleman CompanyandKlean Kanteen.

Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together

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