With summer finally making its appearance, with it comes our beloved Irish festivals. We can either be blessed with tropical waves of sunshine bliss or monsoon rains fit to wash out an entire village in the southern hemisphere. Either way they are undeniably great craic. One things that seems to create undesirable attention is the aftermath of a festival. What was booming with electric atmosphere on a Friday evening has become a baron waste land covered in a blanket of tents and plastic as far as the eye can see on a Monday afternoon.
I have been attending festivals since the tender age of 16 and from what I can see is that the negligence and abandoning of festival gear is still as prevalent as ever. When I did camp, my friends and I always brought home our tent, except that one time we camped beside a fence at Oxegen, NEVER EVER pitch beside a fence. For avid festival goers you should know why it is a bad idea to camp beside a fence! Other than that occasion, we always brought our tent home because we saved up our money, bought a good decent tent and had the intentions of using it again.
It seems nowadays with the aid of online shopping and the great deals Lidl or Aldi do have, tents are now disposable. Not only tents but camping chairs, once the most highly sought after item at a festival campsite, now thrown to the side. It had fulfilled its 10 year warranty in just three days.
Not only tents or chairs are left behind but a multitude of sleeping bags, mats and blowups mattresses, bottles, glass, tooth brushes, plastic packaging, cups, cardboard, cigarette butts, face wipes clothes etc. The list is endless and all easily reusable and now avoidable. It is all left behind to somehow magically disappear into the atmosphere somehow? Who is to blame for this disgraced campsite? Is it the festival organiser?
Is it the waste management company or is it the person who has kicked the cup to the ground with a bin within 20ft of reach? Seems to be difficult question to answer. Not at all festivals are like this and are slowly becoming more progressive. All Together now based in Co Waterford has become the first irish festival to ban single use plastic. It is not permitted to allow any plastic other than reusable on site.
They will sell water on site in tetra pak cartons and encourage people to use the water fountains. This in itself create a positive outlook and encourages people (and other festivals) to do the right thing. Littering is not acceptable here and so will be highly frowned upon if seen. You would not do this at home or to your local park why should it be acceptable at a festival.
Ireland has one of the highest ticket and festival prices in Europe. People seem to forget that this is a costly expense on the festival. The whole weekend, and the weeks following, is spent cleaning up after it. Front loaders plough through field upon field piling up mountains of campsite refuse to be sent to landfill. It is no wonder why people get frustrated with higher ticket prices, it is an expense factor that must be considered.
So moving forward, what can be done to stop this!? First of all, bring your god damn tent home! It’s 100% easier to dismantle a tent than it is setting it up. I understand that people are exhausted Monday morning but it takes 5 minutes to pack up everything. The dreaded thoughts of having to walk back to the car or the bus but your load is going to lighter regardless.
Also ladies, please stop bringing 20 different outfits to the event. There is nothing trendy about leaving half a wardrobe for someone else to dispose of. Be real and think wisely about what you want to bring and what is needed for a festival. Planning and organising saves space and less luggage to carry to and from the event. To make things easier, pack your bags on the Sunday, make the trip out to car and all you have to carry on the Monday is your change of clothes, sleeping bag and tent. Job done.
If you do not have the luxury of having your car parked out in the car park, just pack the bag Sunday so the tent breakdown is not such a big ordeal come Monday. If you do not plan on reusing the tent, you can donate to any of the homeless or refugee charities where they would be more than grateful to take off your hands.
Next, bring your own cup. This can reduce the amount of cups used vastly. If everyone had their own reusable cup we would not see so many cups littered on the ground. Fact. Most festivals have a cup return policy where you can get money or free drink in return for plastic cups.
Kids love making a few euros at these festivals and they are the unsung heros of litter picking but again there are not all kid friendly festivals and gigs. Don’t be that guy, just pop the cup in the correct bin or hold on to it till you get the cup return tent. It is vital to stay hydrated at a festival and there are many watering taps dotted around the festival for you to refill your cup or bottle. Use them, they are there to be used.
Bring your own refuse bags, (clear ones at that) not all festivals hand them out so take a little bit of responsibility and bring a few. Clean up as you go over the weekend and leave the bags at the wheelie bins. 90% of the waste left behind is recyclable so make sure they can be seen through the clear bags and not mistaken for waste. There is nothing worse than sitting around the tent and people ignorantly walking over the heap of cans, cups and bottles. Again, you would not have this attitude at home or at a workplace.
There are many few avoidable products that can be brought to the festival like bamboo toothbrushes, face cloths or reusable cleansing wipes instead of baby wipes, steel straw and bottle, shampoo and body bar. It also helps to purchase plastic free essentials like deodorant, sun cream and moisturizer, tooth paste.
All of which can be found on www.littlegreenshop.ie if you find they cannot be easily sourced.
Is it also good to know that there is biodegradable glitter, a festival essential for most girlos. Biodegradable ponchos can also be purchased as it is an irish festival after all. Never the less, we hope that one little change can make a big difference. And most of all, don’t forget to enjoy yourselves! 🙂