Festival waste ruins the fun

By Ashlea Witoslawski

It’s funny how clearly festival goers stand out when witnessed outside their natural habitat.

Multiple braids, unbuttoned striped shirts and large, grungy leather boots — it’s a style established for comfort when boogying on the dusty dancefloor.

As I popped over to Riverside Plaza yesterday afternoon for lunch, I was amazed to see the first of thousands making their way to Strawberry Fields Festival.

The music and arts festival begins in Tocumwal tomorrow and will entertain masses from across the country for three days.

Doing a pit stop in Shepparton for snacks and drinks, you could quickly see the plastic reusable bags and alcohol bottles filling cars already overflowing with plastic tents and camping equipment.

And once the good times pass and the hangover settles in on Sunday morning, the idea of cleaning up a campsite in the dry heat is no match for nausea, a headache and the desperate need for a shower.

According to not-for-profit organisation Green Music Australia, the growth of music festivals has led to greater garbage issues, with half of festival litter generated from the campsites.

From the 2017 study, damaged and broken tents were the major cause of litter, with 55 per cent of attendees believing it was not the responsibility of them or other festival-goers to clean up.

Those who rushed to depart on the last day were two times more likely to leave their broken tents, with 52 per cent of attendees under the impression packing their tent would slow them down.

Living in a society where mass-produced, cheap goods are prevalent and easily sourced, plastic marquees, chairs and tents are often bought specifically for festivals.

The amount of waste I have personally seen at overnight festivals makes me sad and disappointed.

Thankfully, work is being done to combat this across the country.

At Strawberry Fields, festival attendees will have the opportunity to take part in a marquee-hiring scheme, as well as a reusable cutlery and crockery system.

The festival is also part of the Green Music Australia ‘Party With The Planet’ campaign, where festival tickets are offered to those taking the pledge to go green and cut down their festival waste.

At Shepparton’s inaugural Land of Plenty festival, every empty can brought back to the bar took $1 off a person’s next drink.

This was a great initiative and at the end of the day, floor litter seemed much more under control than at most other festivals I have attended.

Although I am sure the weekend ahead will produce shameful photos of waste strewn across the banks of the Groutt Lagoon in Tocumwal, I am hopeful more waste education and initiatives will result in greener, groovier festival vibes in the future.