We all love a good festival. The experience of being five days short of a shower, battling through mud-infused mosh-pits to get a glance at your favourite band, after a nutritious dinner at the slightly dodgy burger stall, is one not easily matched in our day to day lives. Despite the messiness, festivals are, in a way, the closest many of us get to being at one with nature, living temporarily out in the open and rejoicing in the simple things in life: music, sunshine, friends, and alcohol.
If we all put in a little effort, a huge difference really can be made
However, the mess that festivals produce has dire consequences for the environment. Once the fun is over and everyone has packed up home, the fields on which the event was held are left littered with countless abandoned tents, empty bottles, and general waste. Festivals largely produce this in the sale of single-use plastics such as straws, cups and even facial glitter, accumulating in a detrimental amount of rubbish that simply ends up in a landfill. Glastonbury Festival made the headlines last year for its shocking amount of rubbish – an estimated 1,650 tonnes.
Festivals, in their aftermath, rapidly shift from a place of fun and celebration to something resembling a wasteland. But what can be done to tackle this rapidly growing problem?
Luckily, our favourite festivals have a plan. Over 60 independent and major festivals, including Boomtown, Bestival, and Reading/Leeds, have all signed the pledge promising to eradicate single-use plastics by 2021. This will see an end to the hundreds of thousands of plastic straws, cups, and bottles heading to landfill, with reusable containers taking their place. Soon, those plastic cups filled with someone’s warm beer (or hopefully just beer) will no longer be seen flying across the crowd, landing on some unfortunate person’s head. Individual sauce sachets will be a thing of the past. Even the festival favourite, glitter, made from microplastic and often coated with metal, is on the list of banned items. However, don’t fret, as you can purchase ‘bio-glitter’, made from wood fibres, on eBay for as little as £3 (phew).
Alongside festivals signing this pledge, we can also do our bit to help as festival-goers this summer. It’s estimated that 80% of waste produced at festivals is by campers. There are several ways in which they can do this. Bring food in non-plastic packagings, such as reusable tubs, and when buying food, simply request for it to be put into your own container, and bring your own cutlery, which can easily be rinsed with soap and water. Also, use the recycling bins. It can be tempting the morning after a heavy night to shove everything in the general waste and crawl back to your tent, but separating your items into the appropriate bins makes a huge difference in ensuring nothing is needlessly sent to landfill. Bring a reusable cup for drinks and say no to straws at the bar. Most importantly, clear up after yourself. ‘Leave No Trace’ is supposed to be the number one festival rule, yet fields are often strewn with abandoned tents and waste. Respect the environment around you and leave nothing behind!
Conversations about the environment are often met with yawns. But this is a growing problem that affects everyone, and desperately needs to be addressed. If we all put in a little effort, a huge difference really can be made. Festivals should be an eco-friendly, clean and fun environment for all; it’s about time we stopped treating them as giant trash cans. Besides, who wants to wade through swathes of food waste, condoms, and god knows what else to bag that front-row position in the crowd? Let’s all make a little individual effort, spread some awareness of the problem, and be #DrasticOnPlastic.bookmark me