Festival season might be coming to an end, but one of the most exciting festivals is yet to come: this weekend, the Notting Hill Carnival will take place in Kensington for its 53rd year.
The Notting Hill Carnival is one of the world’s largest street festivals, attracting around one million people every year. It’s a celebration of Caribbean culture, filled with music, colour and creativity; there’s Caribbean street food and dancing, as well as ornate costumes and live music acts all weekend.
Year after year, all this fun has come at unnecessary cost. In 2017, carnival-goers left behind 300 tonnes of waste. Residents of Notting Hill often go away over the festival to avoid the barrage of litter left by visitors to the carnival.
With over one million people attending each year, it’s inevitable that the streets won’t be left squeaky-clean as they were to begin with: the work of street cleaners in invaluable in the days following the festival, and it’s great to see so many people that care about making sure the environment is well looked-after.
As with most things, though, prevention is better than cure. If everyone in attendance does their little bit towards reducing waste at a festival – so, how can you make sure that you’re being as eco-conscious as possible while you enjoy the carnival weekend? Here are our top tips for having a great time while not leaving a trace.
Guilt-free glitterNotting Hill Carnival, like lots of festivals, is a place for intricate and big costumes, bright colours and – of course – glitter. Ordinary body glitter is often not environmentally friendly, though, and can be left on streets for weeks. It’s dangerous for animals, including birds, who might accidentally ingest it if it’s left on the street: it can also find its way into the ocean when washed off down drains. Luckily, you can still look fabulous without worrying about causing damage to the environment: eco-friendly glitter options like Eco Glitter Fun provide biodegradable glitter that means you can look fab without feeling guilty about leaving a lasting negative impact on the environment around you.
Your bag is your best friendA backpack, tote or bumbag is a festival or carnival essential, especially when it comes to reducing the waste you leave behind. If you’re buying food that comes in packaging, drinks in disposable bottles or using napkins or tissues, instead of adding them to the pile of litter in the street, pop them in your bag and wait until you see a bin – or, take them home with you, recycling them (if possible) at your home.
Do the same with food waste, too: if you’ve not finished eating something, pop it in its wrapper, or a napkin, and stick it in your bag for later (or until you find a compost or food waste bin), rather than dumping it in the street. There’s never a good reason to not dispose of things properly!
If you’re going to bring a smaller backpack or bumbag, stick a folded-up tote bag in, too, in case there’s anything you want to buy out and about. It’ll save you getting a plastic bag (and you’ll look more stylish, too).
Stay hydrated in styleWith long partying hours and (fingers crossed) hot weather, you’ll need water with you to make sure you don’t get dehydrated and can make the most of the festival fun. Instead of buying disposable plastic bottles, take a flask or reusable bottle with you and refill it where you can. At most camping festivals, there are plenty of stations with fresh drinking water where you can fill up your bottle. While this might not be an option at Notting Hill, bringing a big bottle with you in your bag filled with water from home will save you money and reduce your single-plastic use. If you’re sharing drinks with your mates, bring sturdy reusable cups for everyone to use, instead of single-use disposable plastic ones.
If you do have to buy water on-the-go because you’ve run out, keep the bottle with you in your bag so you can keep reusing it – don’t litter!
Respect the environment and the people in itUltimately, if every single carnival and festival-goer showed the respect to others’ homes and environments that they’d want shown to their own home, we’d have the clean space that is best for the environment and the people in it. If we want our favourite festivals to continue year after year, we need to protect the environment that they take place in – and preventing a mess being caused in the first place is the best way to do that.