Glastonbury: the great clean-up begins
Posted on 30 June 2015
Journalists like to have a regular annual event to report on. It offers a ready-made story and some consistency.
Things like Wimbledon. Newspapers and TV crews will run interviews with tennis fans queuing overnight for tickets. Or the first really hot day of the year – find some scantily-clad people, usually young women, and show photographs of them sunbathing alongside stories of melting tarmac and people passing out on overheated public transport, etc.
Then there’s Glastonbury. The mostly annual music festival occupies a lot of newspaper column inches and TV schedule time, both in the run-up and during the event itself.
But nothing gets certain parts of the media in a tizzy like the aftermath of the three-day shindig at Worthy Farm in Somerset. To be more precise, the mess and subsequent clear-up operation.
Newspapers that wouldn’t normally write about anything to do with popular culture in its broadest sense get a bit hot under the collar at the mounds of litter that have to be disposed of.
Photographs of dazed revellers wandering aimlessly through piles of plastic bottles, cans and other debris all feature in newspapers popular with the over-60s to show what the country’s youth is getting up to.
To be fair, Glastonbury is one of those events where, yes, a lot of litter and waste gets generated but where many people are conscientious about what they do with it.
There are gazillions of waste and recycling bins at Glastonbury and most are filled to overflowing within the first few days.
According to the Daily Mail some nine tonnes of glass, 54 tonnes of cans and plastic bottles, 41 tonnes of cardboard and – bizarrely – 66 tonnes of scrap metal will be collected by more than 800 volunteers over the next few weeks as the dairy farm returns to normal and plays host to herds of cows rather than Kanye West fans.
It’s not just the usual litter that the 'picker-uppers' have to deal with either; there are 6,500 sleeping bags, 5,500 tents, 3,500 airbeds, 2,200 chairs, 950 rolled mats and 400 gazebos that are left behind by revellers who basically can’t be bothered to take the things with them when they leave.
Glastonbury organisers make a point of asking that punters take their tents and other items home with them, but clearly many of the 135,000 people who go each year ignore such appeals.
I have to confess that the last time I went to the festival, in 2009, I left my tent behind. It was a pretty paltry affair and I couldn’t squeeze it onto the back of my motorbike. So in a field it stayed, along with hundreds of others.
Did I feel guilty? Yes. Would I do it again? Of course not. I’m environmentally-friendly now, me…
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