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Leave No Trace: The Great Glastonbury Clean Up

A few months ago now I got some online abuse thanks to my Glastonbury Mistakes article (check out the comments). Despite saying leaving your stuff was a mistake; I understand quite a few people got upset about me saying that I could see while people did.

The article was all about the error of my ways when I went to Glastonbury, but I admire the passion in this online abuse so decided to do a little investigation into what you should actually do with all your rubbish at Glastonbury, and how it all gets cleared up.

The great Glastonbury clean up

Few facts for you…

Most of these come from this brilliant article on the site.

  • Between 2-3000 tonnes of rubbish are left behind at Glastonbury every year (depending on the weather).
  • 1,800 people are employed by Greenpeace to clear this up in return for either their tickets or money.
  • There are over 15,000 colourful oil drums dotted around the site for rubbish (one of my friends painted these one year in return for a ticket).
  • There are 160 skips for the food wagons.
  • Since 2005 the festival has achieved around a 50% recycling rate of the rubbish.
  • In 2009, roughly 400 gazebos, 9,500 roll mats, 5,500 tents, 6,500 sleeping bags, 3,500 airbeds, and 2,200 chairs were abandoned.

As the grass grows back at Glastonbury more things will surface – mainly things like bits of paper from trampled paper cups. The site takes two weeks to clear up to try and catch as much of this debris as possible.

Environment at Glastonbury

What’s Eavis saying?

The environmental impact of festivals is disastrous” said super cool festival organiser Michael Eavis to The Independent in 2008. “To pretend they’re green is ridiculous. You can recycle like mad, you can bring people on public transport, which we do. Overall, though… the greenest thing to do is not to run the event.”

Of course that’s an option no one wants to choose. Now 77 Micheal Eavis was once voted one of Time Magazine’s top 100 influential people on the planet (2009). Never mind the fact he can make or break a band with his line ups, he’s also a trailblazer when it comes to recycling initiatives. But there are plenty of things you can do to support his efforts.

Loving Glastonbury Festival 2013

How to help the Glastonbury clean up

  1. Take every single thing you bring into the Glastonbury grounds out again, and more if you can.
  2. Always put your rubbish in a bin, including cigarettes. I’ve litterpicked before and cigarettes are literally the worst thing to get, bar chewing gum. Always stub your cigarette out cold and throw it in a bin. One cigarette could contaminate up to eight litres of water if it gets in the water system.
  3. Take spare carrier bags with you to house your rubbish at the tent. If everyone at the festival got through a packet of 40 wet wipes, that’s over 7 million wet wipes in the Glastonbury ecosystem. Bag em up and take them bag out with you!
  4. Take advantage of the 10p beer deal. For every plastic glass you take back you’ll be entitled to 10p off a drink. Take 40 back and you my friend have got yourself a free pint.
  5. Whenever you feel like you can’t be bothered to dispose of that cigarette or food wrapper, think about the beautiful cow that might end up with that in their belly. If that doesn’t break your heart, you don’t belong at Glastonbury.

That’s it. If everyone did number 1 and 2, the whole process would be simple.

One more thing…

“Use the toilets provided – don’t pee just anywhere, the ground really can’t take it,” so says the Glastonbury website. This is actually a huge problem at Glastonbury. Drunk, lazy and tired festivalgoers just pull their kegs down anywhere to relieve themselves. With 177,000 people at the festival, all that wee goes straight into the water table and into rivers and streams for miles around.

“It isn’t good for the ground and it isn’t good for the fish. If you are caught peeing you run the risk of being expelled from the Festival, or at least being very publicly ridiculed by the Green Police.”

These are the kind of idiots the Glastonbury organisers have to deal with (and just look at the mess!).


Leave No Trace

For seven days a year Glastonbury Festival is the most incredible place on earth for the lucky 177,500 who managed to get tickets, but for the other 358 days it is actually a working dairy farm. Remember that.

Stay at Worthy Farm until the Monday and unfortunately you’re sure to see the effect of what happens when people don’t follow these tips. I hope I’m proved wrong. Leave No Trace.

Take a look at the Glastonbury website for more on the Glastonbury Green Policies.


Friday 11th of October 2013