Is Deer Shed Festival sustainable?

Is Deer Shed Festival sustainable?

It’s fair to say festivals haven’t always had the greatest reputations for putting maximum effort into minimising their environmental impacts. While Baldersby Park has never been badly littered with plastic or throwaway tents after we’ve packed away – thanks to the early introduction of Green Goblet’s reusable pint cups at the bars and a conscientious audience – we took the decision in recent years that much more needed to be done. Check out what we’ve been up to since then...


After the airing of David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II in late 2017, our ‘Making Waves’ theme for Deer Shed 9 provided the ideal platform to launch a ban on the sale of single-use plastic bottles in Baldersby Park. With WasteAid UK as our official 2018 charity partner and everyone onsite from traders to volunteers and the audience themselves fully backing us, the policy became a huge success.

We invested further in the festival’s recycling infrastructure, food and drink vendors stopped selling plastic bottles, with everyone instead bringing their reusable bottles along, and the site had never been cleaner for the team’s annual post-festival Monday morning litter pick. This strengthened the idea that Deer Shed is one of the cleanest festivals in the UK.

We spread the message each year to bring your reusable water bottles to fill up at one of our many fresh water standpipes around site, but if you forget to bring them along, we have a few backup options available, like stainless steel Deer Shed Festival water bottles (available from the merch tent) or CanO Water (available at every bar).

As a member of the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), Deer Shed also signed up to the trade body’s ‘Drastic On Plastic’ initiative, pledging to become a completely single-use plastic free festival by 2021. As the big players follow suit - Glastonbury began to spread the message ‘Refill Not Landfill’ this year - the festival industry is now taking real steps towards ensuring that throwing a huge party in a field remains viable during the critical years ahead.


There are two different types of waste bin in the arena: general waste and dry mixed recycling. General Waste is turned into energy at Yorwaste’s waste to energy plant just down the A1 from Baldersby Park, meaning 0% of our waste goes to landfill.

In 2019, the sale of single use hot drink cups, cutlery and serveware, like bottles in 2018 and pint cups in 2014, was prohibited. You, our audience, pay £2 on top of your first hot or cold drink purchased from any vendor selling them onsite and receive a Green Goblet reusable cup. The two types of reusable cups are interchangeable with one another, meaning you can swap your reusable hot drink cup for a pint or half pint cup at the bars, and vice versa. At the end of the weekend, you have the choice to keep either your reusable hot drink cup or swap it for a Deer Shed 10 branded reusable pint cup.

Food vendors now serve meals in compostable trays and provide compostable cutlery when serving meals, and audience members are welcome to bring along their own reusable items. Eighth Plate, the festival food waste scheme by NCASS, collect surplus food from Deer Shed traders each year, aiming to salvage 60 tonnes of festival food waste overall each summer, to make 143,000 ready meals for vulnerable people in society.

Our eleventh event sees us further our progress towards greater sustainability through our new partnership with Every Can Counts, who will advise us on best recycling practice and deliver on-site activations raising awareness about the benefits of recycling drink cans. Did you know recycling one aluminium can will save enough energy to run a stereo for 5 hours or a television for 4 hours? Unlike many other materials, aluminium can be recycled over and over again without ever losing its quality.

Thank you to our audience, volunteers, partners and traders for helping us achieve our goal of becoming a completely single use plastic-free festival by the year 2021 (that’s Deer Shed Festival 12 to you and me).


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