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If you're a regular reader of my Leaders you'll be aware that I spend many Summer weekends at festivals, enjoying the great outdoors, meeting new people, learning new skills, watching some great performers and sleeping in a tent. I also enjoy using the clean, sweet-smelling compost loos which don't require water for flushing and whose contents will, further down the line, be used to help nourish the crops.
If you don't attend the types of festivals that I frequent, you may be thinking that along with this 'hippie' vibe comes the damage to the countryside... litter, mountains of plastics, abandoned tents and other equipment... But it's not necessarily so.
The festivals I generally attend have a 'no drink, no drugs' policy and the 'Leave no trace' mantra often derided in the mainstream press is always adhered to. This year though I performed at a festival that doesn't have a drink/drugs ban and by golly what a difference! The large group I was with, are, like me, keen environmentalists and the only traces we left were faded patches where our tents had stood. Much of the site was the same but there were pockets of utter devastation where you couldn't see the ground for litter and abandoned equipment. In the midst of at least one of these pockets stood a tent that had been used by the group as a toilet. Disgusting doesn't begin to describe it...
I support the call by Clean up Britain (www.cleanupbritain.org) for festival-goers to have to partake in a tent deposit scheme whereby they pay a deposit when they take a tent into the festival, with the money returned to them when they leave with the tent. I wonder though whether the £25 mooted is enough to be a real deterrent?
I had a chat with the organisation's founder John Read this morning to learn more about his proposals. He says that any money not claimed could be used to administer a tent distribution scheme for homeless charities, youth clubs, community groups etc. Like me, he feels that if the tents and other equipment are salvageable, everything should be done to prevent them from going to landfill.
I also agree with John's point that the organisers of the environmentally-damaging festivals should launch a sustained and highly visible advertising campaign in the run-up to - and during - future festivals to make people aware of the environmental damage they're causing. He also suggests that the councils involved should insist that organisers embrace these sort of suggestions as a condition of granting the festival licence - another great idea!
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29th August 2019