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Shambala is committed to being single-use plastic free and, at this point, we’re pretty much there!

No drinks are sold in disposable plastics, we have only reusable bar cups across the festival and there are no plastic straws. No food is served in plastic and you won’t find single sachet sauces. We do not sell or encourage plastic glitter, and we are now even using reusable cable ties. Find out about the initiatives that have helped us to achieve this below, and if you want to dive into the plastic issue click HERE to find out the facts, why and how we are doing this, and how successful we have been so far.


Rather than focusing on trying to recycle more plastics, which isn’t really a solution for a number of reasons, we are designing them out of the festival ecosystem through three key initiatives.


Since 2014, we have had a site-wide ban on the sale of drinks in plastic bottles, instead asking our audiences to bring a reusable bottle. We have put in additional water points, offer free chilled filtered water at the bars and work with Frank Water who have a mobile hydration unit.

We also have our own beautiful, Shambala-branded stainless steel bottles available from our online store and merch shop on site. Our bottles are manufactured by RAW Foundation, an organisation who do incredible work tackling the single use plastic problem. These bottles can also be ordered in advance of the festival and picked up on arrival. Order yours HERE.


Rather than disposable plastic or paper cups, we operate a reusable bar cup system. People pay a one-off £1.50 levy when they buy their first drink and then get a fresh cup when they return their cup (or a token) to the bar. After the festival all the dirty cups are taken to an industrial washing facility to be cleaned and reused for other events. Many lifecycle analyses find that reusable plastic bar cups used 3 times have a lesser environmental impact than a typical single-use cup despite the transportation and washing impacts.


Research suggests 5 billion cardboard cups are used once and not recycled in the UK each year, equating to over half a million trees worth of source materials. Your brown, cardboard cup may look all earthy and recyclable, but it reality it isn’t, due to the polymer lining. With an estimated 30,000 cardboard cups used at Shambala alone, it’s time to make a change.

Since 2022 there have been NO disposable coffee cups available at Shambala – so you MUST bring your own reusable cup for your tea or coffee – please ensure your cup is made of plastic/bamboo/metal, rather than ceramic or glass, for safety reasons. If you fancy a Shambala branded coffee cup, you can bag one of our ecoffee bamboo cups here while stocks last. 

Plastic Free – to bring or not to bring

With Shambala now mostly being a disposable plastic free zone, we’re left looking at how to tackle the last fiddly and awkward bits: menstrual products, glitter and cable ties. In reverse order.

Can we build a festival without traditional cable ties? We’re going to try.

Finally – the last frontier in our quest to become entirely plastic free, is working with you lovely lot, to try and get you not bringing any plastic onto the festival site. We know it’s tricky, but please have a go – see if you can avoid bringing any plastic with you, or at least reduce wherever you can. Check out the Plastic Free Festival Guide HERE.


We have a  Shambala-wide ban on all glitter – except for one type…. As we are currently only aware of one truly biodegradable glitter product which we allow for fellow Shambalans to keep the community safe, sound and sparkly – if they choose to use glitter. Alternatively, we’d recommend facepaint! Our favourites are spirulina or mud…

 ✨ Cosmetic Bioglitter PURE is ethically and sustainably sourced, made of a natural coating and cellulose core derived from hardwoods, from certified plantations. It has 100% biobased carbon content, is GMO-free, it is not carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic – so it’s not a hazard to human health like regular glitter. Plus it (and its ingredients) are cruelty-free and it is heavy metals free.

 Other ‘eco’ glitters have been found to be toxic, contain heavy metals and are tested on animals. They are made of a plastic called polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is coated with aluminium to create a reflective surface – which degrades into microplastics (less than 5 millimeters big) and pollutes ecosystems leading to reduced feeding rates and lower reproductive rates in marine species. It sometimes contains minerals such as mica which is linked with innumerable human rights infringements with children working in dangerous mines in less industrially-advanced, developing countries. These glitters are not acceptable due to these implications, and the more positive alternatives available.


We’ve put a lot of effort into eradicating pointless plastics and waste at Shambala. One of the last frontiers for us is looking at the sustainability of the (amazing) carnival costumes you lot put together. This year, we’re challenging everybody – ourselves included – to create their costumes using second hand/recycled/reusable materials – and to avoid buying plastic tat that is worn once and chucked in the bin. We really hope you all take us up on this challenge, and can’t wait to see what epic creations you have up your sleeves. You can read our blog on cutting the crap out of costumes, HERE.


Let’s talk menstrual products. Whilst we are aware that some will think a festival has no right to instruct people on what menstrual products they choose to use, we can’t be fully disposable plastic-free without at least starting a conversation about this. Hundreds of people have their periods while at the festival. In 2018, we encouraged all those who have periods to, if possible, choose plastic free menstrual products. They’re better for the planet, and better for your health. Download a free information sheet about the various plastic-free products on the market, HERE.

Being on your period at a festival isn’t fun – we’re trying to ease the discomfort with our dedicated venue (The Red Sea Travel Agency – on hand to help you with your monthly trip!) Puns aside, this is a calm and comfy chill out space with dedicated toilets, hot water for your moon cup and hot water bottles for those that need them. This is also an information hub for those that want to find out more about ditching plastics from their periods.