As the number of Summer Festivals ramp up, with social media filling with photos of dancing, lights and bands on stage (also – for me as someone who works on these sites – photos of questionable crew-catering!)
I have been reminded of days spent with the troops in the abandoned campsites of Glastonbury, Boomtown and Reading to name but a few, collecting discarded items and sending them off to those in need or taking them home to clean up, mend, upcycle and repurpose.
I wonder if the last 18 months will make a difference to the inherent behaviour of littering on festival sites – will people be more aware of the value of their festival equipment, taking everything away with them to use again or will those who have prospered during this period be just as wasteful as before leaving everything behind and sauntering off site with what they view as valuable and whatever else they can fit in their backpack?
The amount of reusable, often new/never used “still has the tag on” items left behind on festival sites is astounding, its hard to explain the volume left behind, and until you have seen the devastation for yourself I don’t believe you will truly understand the carnage.
Why are there some people who think this is acceptable?
Why is it that some take full accountability for their items and value their equipment and environment whilst others feel its perfectly acceptable to leave everything behind, for someone else to clean up after them and to abandon all accountability for their actions?
As I’m writing this, I realise I don’t know the answer….
I have heard many excuses over the years, these are the most popular…
"I was still drunk and couldn't be bothered"
"The charities get everything anyways"
"Festivals have to clean up so what difference does it make"
… Let me try to explain why these common excuses are not acceptable
“I was still drunk and couldn’t be bothered”
This for me is a weak excuse… don’t get me wrong, I know how exciting a festival is and how we all wish it would never end, freedom with friends old and new and a chance to let your hair down – a true escape from reality. Unfortunately however life does go on and there are several ways to enjoy yourself right up to the last minute and still be capable of clearing up after yourself! I refer to one of my favourite sayings:
"Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance"
You could stay off the booze or limit yourself on your last night, go to bed early so your fresh as a daisy when you rise ready to tackle your kit like a boss and jog up the hill back to your car….. ok, ok thats unlikely, with the noise around you the unpredicatable weather (be it boiling or hammering with rain) and the undoubtable peer pressure from all of your mates!
But what about taking some time before you head out on your last jaunt to pack up as much as you possibly can!? Think of your future self!
I have witnessed groups clearing and packing up their belongings and tents into their cars, leaving just one (normally the largest) tent pitched for everyone to crash in for the last night. Its alot easier for a whole group of you to pack up one tent on a hangover than for you to all individually struggle with your mess…. just a thought!?
“The charities get everything anyways”
This comment is probably the most common…. and its the one that really gets my back up.
There are a lot of charities which benefit from salvage schemes at festival sites and many rely heavily on the equipment left behind to assist those in need however its not that simple.
Most festivals have eco-drops or areas for usable equipment to be left for charities to collect and some even run schemes where festival goers can get back some of their ticket price or a swag bag of merchandise for handing in bags of trash or recycling their own waste.
Some sites/schemes are more successful than others, but I don’t believe I have been to any festival which hasn’t encouraged its guests to tidy up after themselves and most have equipment drop of areas wher eyou can leave your packed up tent/chairs/bedding etc as a donation to charity.
And that is the difference… when you pack up your equipment and leave it where it can be easily found and collected you are responsibly donating your items. If you abandon your items in a field you are Littering!
Charities work hard, long hours and mostly rely on the kindness of volunteers giving up their time to help, why should they have to clean up your mess??
And finally….. “Festivals have to clean up so what difference does it make”
It makes all the difference!!!
Imagine what amazing new stages, acts, structures, mediatation areas, decor, strange experiences could be created with £750,000!!
Thats right, clearing waste is an expensive mission.
Look at it another way – how much cheaper could your festival ticket be if the organisers didnt have to budget in for site rental for up to an additional six weeks to clean up or as much for waste disposal?
You are not thinking of the bigger picture! – Your actions make a huge impact on all aspects of the festival world as well as the damage on the countryside that you have been fortunate enough to enjoy.
So in conclusion….What does LITTERING say about you?
In my opinion, littering makes you a DICK! there is no excuse not to bag up your rubbish and dispose of it responsibly. Whether you are at home, on the beach on holiday or at a festival. There are always places to dispose of rubbish and if not put it in your pocket and wait to find a suitable rubbish bin. Anything you bring with you should be removed by you.