By, Izzy McLeod
The Quirky Environmentalist, Izzy McLeod ((they/them) has shared with us, "How to Have a Waste-free Pride!" Check out this post for some helpful tips to sustainably celebrate Pride!
It’s pride month, a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, queerness, and a time of protest. Unfortunately, a lot of these wonderful celebrations and protests also produce quite a bit of waste.
Now, I am a proponent of structural change, and community action over-pressuring people to be perfect individuals but there are lots of things you can do, individually and collectively, to make your Pride celebrations a little less wasteful and maybe even become a wonderful queer environmentalist. But that’s just coming from me… a queer environmentalist.
Whether having a small pride celebration yourself, with some friends, or you’re somewhere where big pride celebrations are once more up and running there will be something in this guide for you. Happy pride!
Buy pride merch you’ll use again and again
I get it, it’s pride, you see all the wonderful rainbow accessories, the pride tees with wonderful slogans on, the sparkle and glamour, and you want to look your best for any celebration. So there’s often a temptation to buy something that will be amazing for that one pride event but that might now be worn again after that. But so much energy and labor goes into clothing and accessories, and so taking a bit longer to find something you know you can wear again and again will help both the environment and your wallet.
I like imagining all of the different ways I could pair a new piece of clothing with my existing wardrobe, and all the places I could wear said piece. The thirty wears test is also a good place to start- can you imagine yourself wearing this piece at least 30 times? Not many ideas springing to mind? Maybe it’s best to hold off on that purchase and find something you’ll love even more.
You can even try shopping at queer-owned, independent, ethical and sustainable businesses to make your purchase even more people and planet-friendly.
Upcycling is your friend
Holding a pride celebrating and need some décor? Can’t find a piece of pride-worthy clothing that is just right for you? Get creative! You can look around your house for old pieces of clothing, recycling, anything you’re not using anymore and give them a new life, or take a trip to your local thrift shop to find something to rework.
This might seem a little daunting at first, but the internet is your friend. There are countless tutorials available on YouTube for all sorts of crafts, and inspiration all over Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok. You can even make upcycling a little pride event in itself, get your friends together on Zoom or in the park and have some fun sewing, sticking, or painting.
In 2019 I made my own rainbow tassel t-shirt for pride and it’s a piece that is utterly me, I also love when people compliment it and I get to say “Thanks, I make it!”. Saves on waste, often saves money, gives you a unique piece, and you might even learn a new skill along the way.
Remember your reusables
If you’re going to an organized pride event, this is your reminder to take your reusable bottle, cup, straw, or cutlery. Most bigger events will use single-use plastic because it’s cheap and easy but there’s a huge amount of waste created with this. Even if you don’t bring a reusable cup you can keep using the one you get your first drink in to minimize waste.
It can also sometimes be worth bringing your food to pride events to save both money and on unnecessary plastic waste. I always have a stash of sausage rolls on hand at pride in case I get peckish.
Want to stop single-use plastic at big pride events for good? You can talk to your local club or pride organizing committee about ways to mitigate the use of single-use plastic including talking to food and drink vendors, having separated recycling bins, and stopping single-use plastic freebies from corporate vendors. There are also calls from some charities to ban big plastic polluters, like Coca-Cola or PepsiCo from sponsoring pride events.
Say no too balloons and plastic glitter
This might be a controversial one because I’ve been to pride events, I understand how much glitter, balloons, beads, and all manner of plastic shiny things are everywhere. They’re colorful, they’re fun, but they’re also environmentally damaging. We’ve all seen the pictures of plastic damaging sea life and littering the natural environment.
So saying no to balloons, and switching to biodegradable glitter or body paint can be ways to top plastic waste while still looking great. Sydney Mardi Gras banned glitter in 2019, with Pride in London banning it in 2017, and I’m sure there will be more to come in the next few years.
Take your trash with you
Even if you try your best, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to create absolutely zero-waste event, so make sure any waste you do have goes with you and goes in the right bin! Simple stuff.
Talk to your local pride organizers
This point has already been mentioned twice in this post, but I want to emphasize this again because big pride events produce a lot of waste and have more power to change than a few individuals attending. Talking to event organizers about plastic, waste management, and who sponsors their events can make some bigger changes and influence all who attend. A few might not be so willing to listen or be able to change quickly, but the more people that say “hey, this isn’t acceptable, we want to celebrate pride and look after the environment!” the more likely they are to make those changes. It has been done, and with more and more festivals going plastic-free it’s definitely doable.
No matter how you’re celebrating pride this year, taking a bit of extra time to be mindful of what you’re taking and leaving at events can make a big difference, and having conversations and organizing can have a huge impact. Hopefully, we’ll see more larger events taking the plunge to mitigate their environmental impact but until then we can take strides in the right direction.
Happy Pride month everyone! Find a way to celebrate waste-free!