In case you missed the 1000s of smug social media posts (mostly from katie) and 3 full days of BBC coverage, Glastonbury was on this this weekend. 200 thousand people descended on worthy farm for 4 days of music, art and Greenpeace fun. Glasto is renowned for its strong political views, especially around the environment, and there is always a strong eco presence. The festival aimed to make this year its greenest ever, so here’s a run down of our fave initiatives that we’d like to see other festivals trying out!
GOING PLASTIC FREE
This year Glastonbury took the move to ban the sale of all plastics from food stalls. That means no plastic bottles!
Instead stalls were selling canned drinks and water and there were loads of cute can specific recycling bins for your tins when they were done. People were also encouraged to bring a reusable bottle to get free refills from over 800 taps and wateraid stations around the site. The impact this bold choice will have had on the footprint of the festival is absolutely insane and just shows what businesses can achieve in terms of plastic reduction when they have to! The decision even got a shout out from David Attenborough during his pyramid stage performance.
Glastonbury doesn’t have any flushing toilets, in fact it doesn’t even have portaloos. What is does have is the legendary long drops which bring shudder to even the most seasoned festival goer (if you don’t know what a long drop is google it but be prepared to not eat for the rest of the day).
There is another option to the long drop though, with compostable loos by natural event which were provided across the site. The idea is that you take a small can of compost in with you and use that as your ‘water’. Using compost not only stops the loos smelling, but it also means that waste products (aka poo) are broken down naturally and without harsh chemicals etc. – reducing environmental impact. These loos are a great alternative to portaloos and it would be great to see more festivals embracing them.
One of the highlights for me every year is exploring the green fields. Located away from the main stages, the green fields are 4 huge areas dedicated to sustainable living. There are workshops were you can make everything from bath bombs to chairs, live music, SO many vegan cafes and of course lots of eco information about what you can do to make your lifestyle more eco friendly.
Every year I seem to find something new and this was no exception. Hidden down a winding track off the mainline, permaculture is a small area dedicated to cyclic living. There is a garden where plants are grown to be used in the cafe, a pakora fire pit, and amazing little signs explaining what each plant is and how to grow it. The volunteers that work there are also so happy to chat and answer any questions you might have about how to make your lifestyle more cyclic and less wasteful (also the pakoras are fab 11/10 would recommend).
I am a fussy eater and have struggled at glasto in the past. There really are only so many vegetable curries and falafel wraps a girl can eat.
This year however Glastonbury has cut its sales of red meat on stalls by a crazy 40%, and put up lots of signs around the farm advocating for a vegan lifestyle on the basis of the environment. As a working dairy farm acknowledging the impacts of overconsumption of animal products is really brave and should be applauded.
In place of stalls selling meat there were sooooo many vegan stalls. Everything from vegan tacos to a hoisin duck wraps to tofish and chips was on offer. They also consistently had huge queues so the demand is clearly there and hopefully they will build on this in the future.
SAVE THE INSECTS
This years theme was all around saving the earth, and specifically insects. If we lose our bee population, which is on track to happen pretty bloody soon, our whole food chain will be in jeopardy. Not to mention the wider ecosystem which bees help to thrive by pollinating plants. The main causes of bee decline are global warming and industrial agriculture practices so is entirely preventable if we act now.
All the stages had giant bee figures attached to the side, with the Other stage even having an ‘insect rebellion’ sign on top of the stage. Seeing such a prominent issue put at the heart of the festival was so great, and definitely reminded me to check up to see what else I can do to help bees when I’m home.
The theme was also backed up by a huge extinction rebellion presence at the festival – even shangri la had an hourglass logos scrawled across the stage. Extinction rebellion is the leading movement at the moment working to raise awareness of the climate emergency and pressure those in power to act decisively and urgently.
Even though Glastonbury is making big changes to be more eco friendly, it has a long way to go. Most food stalls are run off of big portable generators rather than renewable energy, and there are lots of vehicles moving around the site. I look forward in the future to seeing the festival continue to work towards tackling these issues so it remains the greenest festival in the world and how these collective efforts change outcomes.