Sunday 16 December 2018

Electric Picnic festival goers – you’re adults, maybe it’s time to pick up after yourselves

The clean up after Electric Picnic
The clean up after Electric Picnic
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

If you’re one of the 50,000 plus grown adults who attended Electric Picnic this weekend and left your rubbish strewn across the campsite you should be utterly ashamed of yourself.

Whatever about abandoning your tent (we’ll come back to those later), the sheer volume of other rubbish - much of it recyclable - from plastic bags and bottles to inflatable mattresses and everything in between left dumped, by adults, in those Stradbally fields is disgusting.

How much effort does it take to collect plastic bottles and return them to recycling points, or to bin your other rubbish?  Are you really entirely unconcerned that so much waste that could be recycled is sent off to landfill?

Maura Lyons of Leave No Trace Ireland summed it up rather succinctly in a statement this morning, “It is not enough to simply clear and dump millions of euros in materials into landfill sites. We are drowning in our own waste. Many of these materials are re-usable and recyclable. Seeing bulldozers scorch the site is sickening in a time when these materials could be used for many purposes.”

She called on music festival organisers to up their game.

“Advance, planned and effective environmental strategies need to be a core element in the preparations for any large gathering. The investment for clearing, removing and disposing of waste after festivals should include an allocation towards ensuring that levels of waste are reduced in the first instance.”

In fairness to the organisers they had some supports in place to help people to dispose of their rubbish in an eco-friendly manner across the site over the weekend.

At the campsites festival goers could avail of recycling bags for recyclable and other materials. Full bags could be brought to the NiftyBin Recycling Points where you could avail of the chance to win two tickets to next year’s EP.

There were also volunteers from Friends of the Earth on site to tell you about the environmental initiatives, and a video informing festival goers of the same on the big screen, so there was at least some attempt to raise awareness.

It clearly didn’t work, however, when it came to the campsites.

At least thirty per cent of EP’s waste comes from what is left behind in the campsites, including those seas of nylon sheeting and plastic poles and pegging that constitute your tent.

Contrary to what many people believe, abandoned tents are not disassembled and reused by charities.  While some community groups and charities do get a chance to salvage some reusable camping equipment, the vast majority is incinerated or sent to landfill.

Granted, on the Monday after Electric Picnic, most people are battling cumulative three day hangovers and it’s all they can do to drag their backsides out of the field with their phones and wallets (hopefully) in their pockets.

The notion of packing up your tent and lugging it for half an hour over a damp field until you reach your mode of transport is laughable when you’re in that frame of mind.

Hangovers have a lot to answer for, but given the fact you carried your tent there in the first place, presumably with a rake of alcohol and other miscellaneous items (most of which will have been imbibed/disposed of over the weekend) it’s not unreasonable to expect you to remove it too.

That said, there is undoubtedly more the organisers could do to encourage people to remove their tents.  Perhaps a returnable deposit added to the ticket price would work? 

Or perhaps community groups and charities could be given more time to salvage more of the reusable equipment on site.  Festival goers may be more inclined to dissemble and pack up their tent if they thought it was going to a good home via these groups (and they wouldn’t have to endure the aforementioned lug across a field). 

For those who do want to take their tents home, but simply don’t have the energy, perhaps wheelbarrows or buggies could be provided to help them transport them to their car/bus etc.  Increasing the availability of affordable tent rental is another option.

Experts in eco-friendly festival practices undoubtedly have a myriad of ideas – it’s clear that there are options when it comes to tents.  When it comes to the rest of it, however, it’s simply a case of adults behaving like adults, taking some responsibility, and not being disgusting. 

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