How To Recycle at LIB

It’s important that as we grow that we continue to do our part in creating a sustainable festival environment as a community, and a large part of that is about both minimizing waste and recycling. To inform any newcomers to Lightning in a Bottle about how to properly minimize, dispose of, and reuse what they might think to just be trash we put together this handy guide that you can use to help us in our efforts to keep Lake San Antonio beautiful.

Never recycled before? What better place to learn than at Lightning in a Bottle, the greenest festival in the country 5 years in a row according to a Greener Festival.

What Goes Where

As a pack it in, pack it out event we don’t provide disposal services for your campsite trash, but you will still see the standard recycling, compost, and landfill bins at trash stations throughout the festival grounds, generally located near vendors and major stages. Sometimes the excitement of running from stage to stage in the summer heat can make using those bins a bit confusing, so here are some helpful tips on how to use those stations properly.


One of the most common misconceptions is that all plastic, paper, and cardboard belongs in the recycling. It does not! A general rule of thumb is that hard plastics, such as bottles, are recyclable, and soft plastics, such as plastic bags, are NOT!


Plastic bottles, glass bottles, beer/soda cans, clean aluminum foil, dry cardboard, plastic cups (unless they are labeled “compostable”), tin cans (like canned food– make sure to empty food contents into Compost first), plastic tubs & containers


Plastic bags, plastic film, plastic wrappers, plastic eating utensils, ziploc bags, wet/soiled cardboard & paper, food scraps, napkins, paper plates, waxy cartons


Compost (Green)

The easy way to identify compost is that anything that was once alive goes into this bin. Trash and recycling does NOT belong in here. This is for organic waste only.

What to Compost

All food scraps, soiled/wet cardboard & paper, napkins, paper plates, paper cups, compostable cups & food service items (compostable plastic cups are common at events these days. Check to make sure!)

What NOT to Compost

Paper plates that are lined with foil or other waxy material (only compost PURE paper plates, not the shiny ones), other waxy paper


Landfill (Black)

If compost or recycling goes into the landfill bin, it is sadly wasted, and our goal of a zero waste festival and community is compromised. Most of the things we use can be reused or recycled. For everything else, there is the landfill bin.

What to Send to the Landfill

Plastic bags, plastic film, soft plastic, cigarette butts, candy wrappers, potato chip bags, balloons, rubber gloves, eating utensils (unless they are labeled “compostable;” at LIB, they might be!)

What NOT to send to the Landfill

Anything that belongs in Recycling or Compost. This includes: lights, electronic devices, and other hazardous waste.

Reduce & Reuse

We encourage you to consider the environmental impact of your waste. That starts with bringing less single-use stuff that will end up in a landfill. You could also try preparing some food at home. It’s also highly recommended that attendees swap the glowsticks for some long-lasting LEDs and EL wire. Bring your own reusable cups, any essential kitchenware and don’t forget to bring a reusable vessel to fill up at any of the many free water stations that are provided throughout the venue. Plastic water bottles are NOT sold at Lightning in a Bottle, and we telepathically applaud any of you who choose not to bring them.

Trash - Gautschi

Photo Credit: Aaron Gautschi

Make it Easy on Yourself

Remember we’re a pack-it-in, pack-it-out event. Everything you bring to the festival grounds must go back with you, including your camp trash. Hopefully, this encourages you to be more conscious about what exactly you’re bringing to the festival, and whether or not it’s excessive. By taking advantage of reusable items and reducing the amount of waste you create to simplify the pack-out process at the end of the festival. To make it even easier, sort your trash at camp into clearly labeled bags separating landfill, recycling, and compost. To dial in those skills further, practice proper waste diversion at home and be the king of green at your next festival.

Featured Photo Credit:Daniel Zetterstrom 


by: Babak Haghighi

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