The merry parade of young Hollywood in bucket hats, tie dye shirts and cowboy boots is upon us again but the dark side of summer music festivals extends beyond Kanye’s last minute cancellation as headliner at Coachella. The waste associated with the summer festival period is an environmental nightmare.
Thrifting website thredUP conducted a study, the Festival Fashion survey, which found that an estimated 1 in 4 Americans plan to attend a music festival or concert this year. The season kicks off this weekend with Coachella. The study’s more worrying statistics reveal that 42 percent plan to buy a new festival outfit and nearly 1 in 3 say they buy festival outfits that they'll only wear once, and this includes 40 percent of Gen Z.
The study relied on third-party retail analytics firm GlobalData and surveyed 2,000 American aged 18 and over in February 2022, asking questions about their shopping behaviors for music festivals and concerts.
Festival-goers 2022 will be particularly excited to be in the audience after two years of pandemic shutdown and the excitement of dressing up to enjoy their favorite musical acts cannot be overestimated. Harry Styles, Billie Eilish and The Weeknd will entertain those who decamp to Southern California’s Colorado desert for Coachella’s 2-weekend extravaganza, July’s 3-day Lollapalooza in Chicago boasts Doja Cat and Due Lipa, Austin City Limits Music Festival, which has yet to announce its line-up, extends across 2 weekends in October, and whether your vibe is bluegrass, jazz or country, there are dozens of events filling up the weekends in between. That packed calendar equals a haul of tossed, single-use clothing to weigh down our overburdened planet.
Festival fashion is an ecological nightmare
Music festivals already amass record amounts of waste year on year as attendees discard cigarettes, newspapers, wristbands, bottles, beer cans, toiletries, disposable cutlery, rain ponchos, sleeping bags, broken tents, and plastic sheeting for an army of litter pickers to sweep in the next morning and clean up. But less visible remains leech down into the soil and polymers from many of these items hang around in the environment for decades. The BBC estimates that the major US music festivals generate around 100 tons of solid waste every day. That's usually only considering what attendees eat, drink and sleep in and doesn't count what they wear which they will discard after returning home.
So thredUp are targeting festival shoppers with their message to ditch disposability by thrifting. The e-commerce site has enlisted celebrity stylist and activist Karla Welch to launch thredUP x Karla Welch, a unique festival shopping experience that pairs thrifted pieces from the site with items from Welch’s celebrity styling. The idea is to inspire festival goers with the latest trends worn in exciting and innovative ways by embracing pre-used treasures over fast fashion grabs. Welch has styled 8 individual looks to take the consumer across multiple weekends and over 30 pieces within the selection are from Welch’s personal archive often sourced for celebrities with picks ranging from 14 dollars to 225 dollars.
“Stylists are the arbiters of taste, dictating what’s cool on the red carpet, in street style, on social media, and beyond,” said Erin Wallace, VP of Integrated Marketing at thredUP. “We believe stylists have the power to redefine what’s fashionable, emphasizing circularity and reuse to combat the industry’s wastefulness."
thredUp estimates that we would save 940M lbs of CO2E, the equivalent of taking 564M cars off the road for a day, if every festival shopper thrifted their outfits this year instead of buying new. The selection includes festival staples like novelty denim, floral shirts, leather jackets, and statement footwear.
Said Welch, “Thrifting is one of the easiest ways to get a unique, eco-friendly festival look that’ll make you stand out from the crowd. Reusing all the amazing clothes already in existence is one of the best things we can do to reduce our fashion footprint.”
Surely that’s music to any festival-goer’s ears.