This might not be surprising - we all know that the aftermath of an amazing weekend can look more like a landfill than the Summer of love. So why, when we are happy to diligently recycle at home, do we find festival waste acceptable? Love Your Tent and Bucks New University are making a proactive call to festival organisers and retailers to end (or at least lower) the amount of waste, and are demanding festival organisers to sign up to a 10% reduction agreement in campsite waste year on year, in a bid to reduce future negative statistics. In today's proactive and well-informed society, no-one can pretend that they don't know this kind of campaign is necessary or beneficial. It will be the festivals that don't get involved in taking responsibility for their after-effects that get left behind in the sustainable, aspirational future.
But it isn't just the festival organisers' fault; festival-attendees' behaviour and attitudes can be, at times, abysmal. We're all guilty of it and aware we're doing it, but our approach of 'someone else's problem' is not a viable one. The survey found consumers at festivals have developed a practise of leaving all of their waste (including tents, camping equipment and those gazebos everyone takes for some reason) behind. This comes at a time when campsite wastes contributes to a crazy 86% of total music festival waste, while 71% of this waste causes lasting land damage to the festival sites. Although socially unacceptable and morally reprehensible, this isn't news to us, is it? We all know that this is what happens at festivals and, if the statistics are accurate, 4 out of 5 (ish) of us will have done it.
"In total, 60% of the respondents who camped admitted to previously discarding tents, with 36% unsure if their behaviour would ever change, and a further 35% said they would never change their behaviour. Despite this, 86% of those surveyed recognised that waste has an impact on the environment at festivals. Given over 6.5 million people last year attended a festival or live music event in the UK alone, the scale of camping waste and abandoned tents is enormous."
Juliet Ross-Kelly, founder of Love Your Tent and a Director of Eco Action Partnership Ltd, cited the group’s collaboration with the Isle of Wight Festival as one way to change festival goer’s behaviour and increase sustainability. Launched in 2012, the ‘RESPECT’ campsite at the Isle of Wight gives folks like us the opportunity of something close to VIP camping for free, if you sign their TENT COMMANDMENTS.
Other festivals that have shown their support for Love Your Tent are: A Greener Festival, Isle of Wight Festival, Reading and Leeds Festival, Shambala, Truck Festival, Hurricane and Southside, Melt, Splash, Highfield, Area4, Rocco Del Schlacko, Taubertal and Rhythm and Vines.
The waste campaign group has also gained support from Elbow, Groove Armada, BBC Radio 6, BBC Radio 4, the Department of Energy and Climate Change and Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Sounds for Nature Foundation, Bastille and The Charlatans.
Is it because our moral code is left at home during festivals (definitely)? If we’re living like heathens for four days, do thoughts of recycling tend to go out of the window (probably)? I think that being outside in the open air, waking up to new musical adventures each day, thinking how beautiful the sky/ grass/ hills/ mud/ clouds/ lakes/ swamp/ dustbath looks on this fine morning/ afternoon/ evening should have the opposite effect.
Festivals are where we make lifelong memories, where we seek out our favourite music, they are our release, a chance to fall in love and get (fake) married, they are the places we live through the stories we will tell to our children to convince them that once, we were cool too. Unsustainable means not around forever, and if the festivals we love today are unsustainable then we all need to make changes so that we don’t lose them completely.
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