7 July 2011

the winter of our discount tent

It seems the combination of bad weather and the availability of cheap tents has led to them being discarded by campers at Glastonbury this year. The festival claimed putting tents in landfill is a greener alternative than the costly and labour-intensive job of trying to recycle them for further use.

Glastonbury Festival 'Our Green Policies' says “‘A tent is for life not just for a festival’, we want people to not just buy the cheapest tent, spend a little extra and buy yourself a tent that is going to last you a lifetime of camping experiences rather than just a festival or summer. Pack up your tent and take it home. Any event with 177,550 attendees will generate significant levels of litter” and it sure did with thousands of tents left abandoned in the mud.

take it home? nah, can't be fucked...
Glasto appeared to blame retailers for marketing cheap and poor-quality tents as "festival" tents which can be used once and then thrown away. With Tesco Direct is selling a three-person tent for half-price at £20 campers are clearly ignoring their standard advice to clear up after themselves and take their tents home. It is not Tesco’s fault that people are irresponsible. Part of the problem is that the tent manufacturers make their products very difficult to pack away. The bags that hold these tents are ridiculously undersized. Trying to roll-up and put away a damp tent is quite difficult, taking the thing down is the easy part. Also there is the "death march" element to consider here. Car parking is miles away from the camping and, particularly in the mud. There is no incentive to lug your sodden £20 gear on foot with a massive hang over. Much easier to leave it where it is.

Second hand value of each tent, perhaps £10 if complete and in good condition. Time required to check, clean, pack and sell each tent a minimum of two hours surely. So anyone taking on the rather unpleasant task of recycling would not even be making minimum wage. Calculations about the benefits of recycling often ignore the time involved.

A spokesman for Glastonbury said: "It's not a crime to leave a tent behind at a festival and I am anxious not to get angry with our customers. They go through an epic endurance and we don't want to undermine their positive experience of visiting the festival by whingeing at them. The fact is that we need to dispel the myth that overseas aid charities are going to want a load of cheap tents from Asda because they don't. And this is not a tent problem - it is a 'life' problem. If everyone didn't smoke and drink and party then clearly the whole job of clearing up afterwards would be a lot easier."

Glasto appeared to blame retailers for marketing cheap and poor-quality tents as "festival" tents which can be used once and then thrown away. The problem isn't just that there aren't enough volunteers; it's that festival goers and organisers have a really poor attitude towards clearing up and showing any sort of social responsibility. The attitude that littering at festivals is / inevitable / acceptable / condoned exacerbates the problem from the word go. Spending time at a litter strewn festival / temporary fly tipping site really detracts from the experience.

my tents dirty and won't fit in it's bag
Jazzactivist: What kind of people go out and enjoy themselves and then leave all their rubbish behind for someone else to clear up? Leaving your rubbish on farm land is against the Countryside Code anyway. I think the Glasto spokesperson is rather bizarre in saying that they "don't want to upset festival goers by wingeing at them". Telling people to enjoy themselves but place things in recycling bins and take home what they can't, leaving the area clear and clear of debris for enviornmental cred isn't at all unreasonable. Allowing people to leave unused tents behind is just encouraging them to do the same everywhere else and not care about anyone else. That isn't in the spirit of any festival. Musicians should be asked to announce during every act that people need to take their litter and leftovers away with them when they leave. What did they say at Woodstock "safe journey, and make sure to take a little bit of litter with you on the way home..."

Confuseddotcom says: “People had left whole crates of beer and cider behind at Glastonbury this year. We took what we could carry, and our mates took an extra tent home, but our car was crammed full.”

Festivals are now big business, and the atmosphere had changed at this year’s Glastonbury. It feels as though it has just crossed the border from 'part of the solution' to 'part of the problem'. From 'an alternative to mainstream capitalism' to 'a booming capitalist industry'.

I am not the first to say this and I will not be the last, but, it's not as good as it used to be. Smaller festivals retain more integrity. £200 for a ticket, vast areas of camping sectioned off for people who can afford luxury tipi’s! The punters are now a mixture of older normal people who remember the old days, and young stinking rich, posh kids who have several hundred quid to blow on a few days hedonism.

Nowasps says: I've been going for years and the problem has definitely got worse. It's nothing more than a reflection of the rest of society - price of everything, value of nothing fostered by cynical marketing and advertising scumbags. I love the Monday womble to be honest and have picked up some great stuff. Some of it you would scarcely believe. I think Glastonbury should hire the savable tents out for a nominal fee with a modest deposit the next year. Might save people bringing stuff they know they won't be taking back home. It can get a bit depressing when you realise what the point of the festival is in the first place, but as pointed out it's a big ask to carry 5 days supplies in the pissing rain and mud over a large part of SW England. I blame the kids anyway,

Well that's the ugly excesses of consumerism for you. I thought festivals were supposed to be a communal experience. Yet thousands of people are too lame to bother taking their rubbish home with them. Doesn't matter what tents cost - leaving your shite behind at a festival (or anywhere else) is thoughtless, lazy and uncaring. I've not done it in 30+ years of festival going so why should anyone else?

But then this is about a little more than festival tents - it's a reflection of something bigger and more depressing. Heartbreaking evidence that Glastonbury has now become a festival concerned more with money than soul frequented by those with more money than soul.

We are all going to hell. Everyone knows about reduce, reuse, recycle, and when it comes to something as effing simple as spending £90 on a tent you can reuse, or £20 on one you can't or won't, its fuck the planet, its more cash for me ciggies, innit.

Then I bet they go back to work/school on Monday and start whinging about how politicians aren't doing enough about the environment. Since Glastonbury finds it so hard to say, let me do it for them: If you leave a tent at a festival you are a wanker.

Here’s a possible solution:

(a) Include a tent as part of the ticket price for campers - people could book the size of tent they need and glasto could get a great bulk deal or even manufacture their own.

(b) Tag the tents so that they are linked to the ticket buyers credit card - impose a £200 fine on anyone who leaves their tent or a £500 fine on anyone who leaves the area around their tent covered in litter. Glasto then makes money on the tents and the fines! And there will be very few tents left afterwards and a hell of a lot less litter. It’s time to treat Glastonbury like any other camp site and any other business.

I may sound pompous but I leave no trace at festivals.
I wee in the urinals, not the edge of a field.
I hang on to my paper cups and plates and put them in the bin.
I don't drop anything on the ground.
When I strike camp I ensure that I leave no trace and take everything with me. Anything broken is taken to a proper waste point.
Am I unique. No. Quite frankly, this is an age thing. I suspect that the same values apply to most people over the age of 50.

I may be generalising but whereas the young bang on about the planet, and how the whale must be saved, they act in the most appalling way when it applies to themselves. If you go to a festival or open air concert run for older fans, you will often find the place still pristine at the end and that there are huge swathes of empty grass with no litter. Although judging by the shit left at the Hop Farm festival this year that opinion could be wrong.

What I did do in 03 was stay behind and join in the clean up, which was more like the festival of old - the Tuesday saw large numbers of travelers enter the site, register for work and start the cleanup operation on the Wednesday, along with a couple of people who had woken up on the Monday morning with a bad head and missing their belongings/ having missed their ride home etc.

We were paid for each days completed work, as well as given meal vouchers, but it wasn't so much the money that the travelers were drawn to the cleanup by, but the opportunity to go 'tatting' - finding tents, camping equipment, left over food, alcohol and the occasional lost baggy of drugs. After about a week there were no tents left to 'tat'. So I'm surprised that it has suddenly become an issue - maybe they are looking to cut down cleanup costs or discourage the travelers from using the site during the cleanup?

Check http://www.efestivals.co.uk/forums/index.php?showtopic=164352 for more 'rubbish' discussion.