Free Tickets, Better Habitat

Festival season is coming to a close and I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some of my thoughts and facts on cleaning up after these huge events.

In my opinion, the UK shines when it comes to hosting and creating an enjoyable festival. Buzzing with energy and of course some great line ups. Whether it be Reading, Commonpeople or the legacy that is Glastonbury we can all agree that these festivals sell out fast and are always heaving with people, some old, young and in between. Such crowds unfortunately mean lots of litter and the use of many resources. Just to give you an estimate of how big these crowds are, Glastonbury hosts around 175,000 people annually, Bestival had 55,000 people attend in 2010 and Boardmasters letting in 150,000 people last year overall.

Festival clean up volunteers have to deal with recycling plastic cups from drinks, cans, food wrappers, paper handouts, paper programmes, packaging from home brought food etc. Glastonbury 2016 saw litter pickers get through 57 tonnes of reusable items and 1,022 tonnes of recycled items. Another Glastonbury statistic, In 2014, more than half of all waste generated by the festival was recycled. My point being that these clean up employees are doing the UK environment a huge favour. These fields where festivals take place are homes to animals and trees. Green spaces for people to enjoy and even Glastonbury is a dairy farm, although that is not the most environmentally friendly use. These thousand or so little pickers help keep the UK’s green spots functioning during a summer of chaos.

Based on a Timeout article, 97% of festival goers drink alcohol. At least one drink per person usually means 100,000+ plastic cups. Another fact, 1,070 burgers are eaten HOURLY at the Isle of Wight festival. Just picture the amount of paper napkins or boxes that equates to in the 3 day festival!

These volunteers have to deal with so much rubbish in an attempt to restore the green fields and of course, a functioning habit for birds e.g. back to its original state, a heavy task, often with a time frame attached. Some litter pickers are there during the festival like at Commonpeople Southampton and the majority in the aftermath. Those during usually get free tickets, a small bonus in return for saving an environment left in tatters by thousands.

One of the reasons I thought I’d write about this is because festival clean up companies usually ask volunteers to sign up the year before; they need to make sure people can clean up otherwise the festival can’t actually happen, another reason these volunteers are so important!

If you can, I would say that cleaning up at festivals helps in many ways and is a rewarding task. Yes, it is hardly the most attractive job, but it serves many environmental purposes, it helps the plants have a chance to grow, it means that as much as possible can be recycled instead of thrown away to disrupt the oceans and land. It’s a little bit less luxury for a lot more environmental life.

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Rosie Jones

Environmental Studies student in Winchester, UK.

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