The Filthy Aftermath of Music Festivals


Pictures of the Burl’s Creek field covered in garbage have been circulating after last weekend’s Boots And Hearts music festival, and WOW. What a mess.

Garbage Boots Hearts

Some were comparing it to the seemingly cleaner Wayhome Festival the previous weekend and pointing a finger at country music fans for being “pigs” and “hillbillies,” but the truth is rock festivals are exactly the same.

Check out the aftermath of Coachella, Glastonbury, Sasquatch and Pemberton.

Garbage Sasquatch

(Photo by The Jellyfish Project)

Garbage Pemberton

(Photo by Global News)

Garbage Glastonbury
Garbage Coachella

Just because you don’t see the garbage from a festival doesn’t mean it isn’t there. I’ve been to Coachella and Pemberton and the only difference is how fast they clean it up overnight. All that waste still ends up in the landfill, with only a fraction of it being reused or recycled.

One of the biggest contributors to festival waste is camping equipment – The Leeds Festival in England estimates 1 in 6 people leaves their tent behind, amounting to 120 tonnes of garbage. They’ve put out videos encouraging festival goers to “Love Your Tent.”

Festival organizers are trying to find creative ways to cut down on waste. Handing out recycling bags and offering reusable cups and water bottle refill stations helps. Bonnaroo uses 100% compostable food service products, and Lollapalooza‘s “Rock & Recycle” program allows people to exchange bags of garbage for a free t-shirt. The Lightning In A Bottle Festival uses grey water and solar power and encourages ride sharing. But is it enough?

For future festivals all plastic should be banned, and campers should be fined if they leave garbage behind. Softer tactics encouraging personal responsibility aren’t working so stiff penalties need to be put in place to make people accountable. Unless we want to be wading knee-deep in garbage in the future (and not just at festivals) we need to think twice about the trash we’re creating every single day.

(Main photo by Randy Adams via Flickr)