By Sonia Elks
LONDON, June 28 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – As anxieties about climate change mount, a growing number of festivals are boosting their eco-credentials with initiatives tackling everything from plastic waste and abandoned tents to low carbon transport and vegetarianism.
Glastonbury – the world’s largest greenfield festival which opened in southwest England on Wednesday – banned plastic bottles for the first time this year to prevent more than 1 million bottles going into landfill.
“We’re always trying to make Glastonbury Festival more sustainable and we’re working really hard to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Emily Eavis, whose family dairy farm has hosted the event since 1970, this week attended by some 135,000 people.
“I’d like to think that thanks to Sir David Attenborough, and amazing environmental activists like Greta Thunberg and the Extinction Rebellion group, there’s a growing consciousness around how we should treat our planet.”
British naturalist Attenborough’s TV series, Swedish teen Thunberg’s school strikes and civil disobedience by the UK’s Extinction Rebellion have made many young festival-goers more conscious about how much they consume and throw away.
Less than one-third of the 23,5000 tonnes of waste produced by Britain’s 3 million music festival-goers each year is recycled, according to a 2015 estimate by Powerful Thinking, an initiative to cut festivals’ environmental and carbon footprint.
“It has been getting worse every year,” said Andy Willcott, director of Critical Waste, which organises litter picking at British festivals and gathers two to three tonnes of rubbish at Glastonbury’s 900-acre site each year.
“The camping fields are full of old tents and stuff that people have just left behind,” he said. “Then you have your general rubbish – stuff that people have been eating and packaging, baby wipes, and all that kind of horrible stuff.”
About 250,000 tents are dumped at festivals each year in Britain alone, said the Association of Independent Festivals, most of which end up in landfill and create a huge amount of plastic waste.
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