Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Glastonbury Festival and The Throwaway Culture - Love The Farm, Leave No Trace

I love this image taken by press photographer David Hedges. The image shows a pile of discarded camping chairs at the pyramid stage in the aftermath of Glastonbury Festival. It's quite a striking image, that makes you question the current climate of festivals and throwaway culture.

With almost every turn i take whilst wandering around Glastonbury Festival, you cant fail to notice the "Love The Farm Leave No Trace" or "Please Take It Home Campaign", message that the festival organizers seem desperate to ingrain in every one of the 177,550 attendees. In their Green Policies on the Glastonbury Festival website (2014) the organisers sate that, "The festival is committed to minimising the amount of waste, and managing the on site collection of that waste efficiently, 'reduce, reuse and recycle'. We want all festival goers to think ‘zero waste’ and to take home what they bring onto the festival site. We want festivals goers to think responsibly when they are packing their things to come to Glastonbury, don’t bring items that will end up in Landfill, or that you won’t be able to take back home again. Limit what you bring, and clean up behind you. The festival commits to continuing its policy of reducing the percentage of waste that goes to landfill, by placing controls on what is bought on site by staff, contractors, sponsors and traders and by emphasis on their responsibility not to bring items that will end in landfill. 49% of the rubbish was recycled last year. All cans, glass, paper, wood and organic waste are separated and recycled. There are 15,000 bins around the site clearly identified for either wet or dry recyclable materials or non-recyclable rubbish". The Festivalization of Culture by Professor Andy Bennett, Dr Ian Woodward and Dr Jodie Taylor (2014) cited Glastonbury Festival organiser, Michael Evis (2007), commenting on the the introduction of green initiatives to the festival, stating, 'you cannot force people to believe the issue'. The writers continue on to note that, "Eavis does not see Glastonbury as an eco-festival, but it is trying to be greener. The Green Fields space within the festival is like a festival within a festival, promoting sustainability, pedal-power, permaculture, alternative energy and bio-diversity. Glastonbury employs an army of volunteers to clean up the site on the completion of the festival. Most volunteers see the rubbish left behind at the festival, such as tents, as a reflection of today's 'throw away' society." Gaia Vince a science reporter for the BBC, wrote a piece on the, "High Cost of Our Throwaway Culture" (2012), in which he observed that the, "idea that something that works fine should be replaced is now so ingrained in our culture that few people question it". Claiming this fairly recent concept has been "brought about by a revolution in the advertising and manufacturing industries, which thrived on various 20th century changes, including the mass movement of large populations to cities, the development of mass production, globalisation, improved transport, international trade and public broadcast media."

It's hard to believe that the rubbish left behind at a festival like Glastonbury will ever not be a problem. With so many people in attendance, creating its own mini city over such a short period of time, the accumulation of rubbish seems to be inevitable. To me, a question should maybe be asked of whether a higher percentage than 49% of all rubbish can be recycled, through the use of more sustainable or bio-degradable materials in the design of festival/camping products.

- Glastonbury Admin. (2014). Our Green Policies. Available: http://www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk/information/green-glastonbury/our-green-policies/. Last accessed 21/10/2014.
- Professor Andy Bennett, Dr Ian Woodward, Dr Jodie Taylor (2014). The Festivalization of Culture. Surrey, UK: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
- Gaia Vince. (2012). The high cost of our throwaway culture. Available: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20121129-the-cost-of-our-throwaway-culture. Last accessed 21/10/2014

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