The UK’s annual Glastonbury Festival draws over 135,000 people each year. As with many events of that size, garbage left behind after everyone goes home has become a serious concern. In previous years, Glastonbury has attempted to encourage a “leave no trace” ethos, hoping that attendees would willingly pick up after themselves. However, the problem has not improved with trashing littering the grounds after the end of every festival.
It is estimated that over £780,000 ($1,032,408 USD) is spent cleaning up trash after the festival each year.
Moving forward, event organizers are doing away with single-use plastic altogether in an attempt to get control of the problem. Attendees will be allowed to bring plastic bottles into the festival, but plastic bottles will no longer be sold on-site.
A statement posted on the Glastonbury Festival Facebook page reads:
“For the first time, single-use plastic drinks bottles will not be available to purchase at this year’s Glastonbury Festival. They will also no longer be supplied or available in any of the Festival’s backstage, production, catering and dressing room areas. Our partners Greenpeace estimate that, globally, up to 12.7 million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans each year. Greenpeace advise that by far the best way to avoid plastic pollution is to reduce plastic usage. With more than one million plastic bottles sold at Glastonbury 2017, we feel that stopping their sale is the only way forward.”
The statement also said that the festival will be providing free drinking water, so attendees will be able to refill reusable bottles instead of using multiple single-use plastic bottles.
The statement continued:
“For those wishing to drink water – which we certainly do recommend! – we are, once again, encouraging all Festival-goers to use a reusable water bottle and refill it at any of the hundreds of free water taps around the Glastonbury site. We have a mains water supply from Bristol Water, with water of the same quality as your taps at home. We are also tripling the number of WaterAid kiosks where you will be able to refill your bottle. Free drinking water will be available from all bars across the site. Meanwhile, canned soft drinks and canned water will be available to purchase from all traders who previously sold soft drinks in plastic bottles. Although those coming to Glastonbury 2019 will not be prevented from bringing plastic bottles on to the site, we strongly encourage everyone to join the effort by bringing as little single-use plastic as possible.”
Emily Eavis, co-organizer of the Glastonbury Festival, hopes that these new measures will help to keep the festival grounds clean.
“It’s paramount for our planet that we all reduce our plastic consumption, and I’m thrilled that, together, we’ll be able to prevent over a million single-use plastic bottles from being used at this year’s Festival. I really hope that everyone – from ticket-holder to headliner – will leave Worthy Farm this year knowing that even small, everyday changes can make a real difference. It’s now or never,” Eavis says.
Despite these drastic measures, there are still many other litter concerns that are not covered by these policies, namely, the thousands of tents that are left behind by festival attendees each year. Festival organizers estimate that 11 tonnes (24,250.8 pounds) of clothes and camping gear were abandoned in 2015 alone. According to Somerset Live, that figure includes 6,500 sleeping bags, 5,500 tents, 3,500 airbeds, 2,200 chairs, 950 rolled mats, and 400 gazebos.