It’s the beer-drenched, pretzel-filled festival that gives the planet a reason to break out the lederhosen and raise a stein. (Or put another way, it gives Mother Nature the chance to whip out her dirndl.) Kicking off September 16 and running for 18 days, Oktoberfest — a time of jovial celebrations, hearty laughter, and clinking mugs — also happens to be among the greenest festivals in the world. Why? Because in the 1990s, the city of Munich banned disposable tableware, which in turn cut festival waste by more than 90%. And since 2000, all public areas of the festival have been powered with renewable sources.
Of course, nothing compares to attending it in-person but if you can’t travel to Germany, why not bring a little Oktoberfest to you — sustainably-minded practices included? From the beer you toast to the decorations that adorn your space, let’s hoist our pints to a greener Oktoberfest celebration with these eco-friendly solutions. Just save some sauerkraut for us.
Sip responsibly and choose local craft beers
Let’s start with the heart of this 188-year-old festival — the beer. While the traditional German beers hold a special place in the festivities, consider embracing local and craft brews if you’re celebrating elsewhere. These often have a smaller carbon footprint, as they travel shorter distances to reach your glass. Moreover, look into craft breweries that prioritize sustainable brewing practices, using organic ingredients and minimizing waste. So, raise a glass of your favorite local brew and make a toast to supporting both your community and the planet.
Use reusable steins and cups
One iconic image of Oktoberfest is a wave of steins and beer mugs held high in the air. Join in by ensuring you’re using a reusable mug or glass instead of a flimsy plastic one. Many Oktoberfest events now offer options for renting or purchasing these sustainable cups, reducing the need for single-use plastic. It’s a small swap that can make a significant impact on reducing waste this Oktoberfest season.
Enjoy sustainable snacking
Oktoberfest and indulgent snacks go hand in hand. Instead of reaching for individually wrapped treats, opt for sustainably sourced pretzels, local cheeses, and organic sausages. Whenever possible, support local farmers and artisans while treating your taste buds to the authentic flavors of Germany. If you’re hosting, consider incorporating vegetarian or plant-based options into your menu, showcasing that sustainable choices can be just as delicious and diverse as a helping of bratwurst, weisswurst, or currywurst.
Decorate with natural elements
When it comes to Oktoberfest decorations, rustic and natural adornments work best. So, instead of disposable banners and plastic decorations, embrace the beauty of nature. Use hay bales, pumpkins, and autumn leaves to create an inviting and eco-friendly atmosphere. Reusable fabric banners or bunting can add a touch of whimsy without contributing to landfill waste and natural wreaths add even more green flair to the celebration. Oktoberfest originated in the Bavaria region of Germany and a lot of traditional decorations reflect that. Cobalt blue and white are the colors of the Bavarian flag, so feel free to incorporate those colors into your sustainable Oktoberfest decorations.
Cloth napkins and tableware are your friends
Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue or joining a local Oktoberfest event, consider using cloth napkins and reusable tableware for the celebration. Ditch the paper plates and plastic cutlery in favor of durable options that can be washed and used again. Plus, cloth napkins add a touch of elegance to your gathering while reducing the need for disposable items. There’s no shame in bringing your own utensils and cloth napkins if you know you’re attending an event that will be using single-use alternatives.
Once you’re done with the festivities, wash your tableware with our eco-friendly laundry detergent sheets. Gentle on fabrics and skin, our hypoallergenic laundry sheets use plant-based ingredients — mostly derived from coconuts — and no harmful toxins. Speaking of being kind to the skin, here’s another Oktoberfest tip: SaltyLama sheets are also useful for cleaning your lederhosen, which, according to Bavarian tradition, should never be washed. But do you really want dirty lederhosen? Simply dissolve our sheets in warm water and carefully clean your German garments. We promise we won’t tell a soul.
Reduce food waste
Oktoberfest celebrations often lead to indulgent feasts, but this can also mean excess food waste. If you’re hosting, plan your menu wisely and encourage guests to serve themselves smaller portions (and encourage them to come back for more), reducing the amount of food that goes uneaten. If you find yourself with leftovers, consider sending everyone home with a plate or freezing for future use. Above all, remember to compost any bread and vegetable food scraps to give a little boost to your garden in the future.
Choose eco-friendly transportation
If you’re heading to an Oktoberfest event, think about how you can minimize your transportation impact. Carpooling with friends or using public transportation not only reduces carbon emissions but also adds to the communal spirit of the festivities and helps keep people safe during such a boozy season. If feasible, walk to the event for the ultimate eco-friendly touch to your journey.
Support local Oktoberfest celebrations
Check out local Oktoberfest events that prioritize sustainability. Look for gatherings that offer recycling and composting options, minimize single-use plastics, and promote eco-friendly practices. By supporting events that align with your values, you’re sending a message that sustainability matters. Plus, you’ll be giving love to your local community and helping it flourish! When local events reel in a big crowd, it encourages coordinators to host more exciting festivals and events in your area.
Plan for a minimal waste clean-up
After all the cheers and celebrations, Oktoberfest will inevitably come to a close. Make sure your cleanup is just as eco-friendly as the event. For those hosting, set up clearly marked recycling and compost bins, ensuring that waste is sorted properly. Consider donating or repurposing decorations and items that can be used for future events. With a well-planned cleanup strategy, you'll be wrapping up your Oktoberfest celebrations with a bow of sustainability.
So, as you slip on your lederhosen or dirndl and join in the merry festivities of Oktoberfest, remember that making sustainable choices doesn’t mean sacrificing the spirit of the occasion. With a few mindful decisions, you can create an Oktoberfest that’s not only filled with laughter and camaraderie but also leaves a lighter footprint on our planet. Cheers to a green Oktoberfest!