Today is Tuesday, but for many it’s like a fast-forwarding Monday, as August’s Bank Holiday weekend ended last night.
I spent mine at Reading’s music festival :)
Last time I went to a festival was 5 years ago at the Leeds equivalent, so another live music-filled weekend was due – especially as my mate D had been suggesting it for years!
We saw more than 30 live acts, and the absolute best were Enter Shikari. They interact with the audience like no one else! I highly recommend watching their show on BBC iPlayer. :)
This was the third time I saw them live, lead singer Rou Reynolds always goes straight to the audience and crowd surfs, runs around the whole stage and jumps around like a gazelle! He also actually talks to the audience and is simply a really good human.
He also introduced a song written about the privatisation of the NHS and mentioned how he’s noticing more and more people are standing up against racism, homophobia, sexism, misogyny…not an ordinary band.
The best things is that you can go absolutely nuts during their sets and get your brain going too. Amazing.
I am going to write more about them at the end of the post :)
One thing that is pretty impossible not to notice at these events is the amount of completely avoidable waste there is.
So I thought I’d write about my experience and some useful tips about trying to be as sustainable as possible when going to a festival or camping.
This Reading Festival guide is really useful to see what the festival organisers are doing to be as “green” as possible. This includes using green energy and details about their recycling initiatives.
There were big recycling bins dotted all around the camping sites and the main event field, so it was never hard to find one to recycle or compost something.
It’s just a pity that some of those who do bother disposing of something in the bins think that food belongs to the paper / plastic recycling bin rather than belonging to someone’s belly or the compost bin… :|
But there are also several deposit and refund schemes: every plastic bottle’s price include a 20p deposit, which means you can get 20p back when you return an empty bottle – I took one from home and refilled it several times a day at the numerous water fountains, which saved me money, time and avoided extra waste -.
Something similar goes on with the drinks cups: the deposit is 10p. So if you were to collect 10 cups you would get £1 back.
There are always people going around collecting other people’s discarded cups – it just shows how this works, it can be fun and loads of children were running around hunting for them!
I also wish people who smoke were more considerate as well.
Yes, I know it’s your holiday too and you just want to relax and have a fag. But do you really need to smoke in enclosed places (such as the tent stages) when the crowd is so dense and the air is so stuffy with showerless human warmth? Must you pollute not only the air with your chemical smoke but also the ground with your ever-lasting cigarette ends? :(
We sometimes compare some people to beasts or animals but one thing is for sure, animals would never pollute like that.
To think that dozens of people were recruited simply to deal with mindlessly discarded rubbish is pretty mind-boggling. How long is it going to take to clean it all up? How small is the effort each of us can make to take care of our own waste?
- Travel: the best way to get to the festival is by coach or train and the site encourages people to share car rides too.
- Tents and other equipment: every year, once it’s time to leave, thousands of tents and camping equipment gets left behind. What I find painful is seeing people tearing or beating tents down and smashing them up. What is the point? Do they think that’s a cool thing to do? Do they think they’re rock ‘n’ roll? I’d better not say what I think they are.
The good thing is, you are able to donate this gear by simply taking it to one of the donation points that come up on the Monday once the festival has come to an end.
If you do take your tent back home, be careful to take all the pegs out of the ground as cows sometimes visit these fields and it would be terrible for them to get hurt by accidentally swallowing one!
You could also choose to use biodegradable pegs such as these Vango ones.
- Try to reuse and borrow before buying. We borrowed my flatmates’ tent and I borrowed my mate’s sleeping bag. That way, I saved money and didn’t purchase something I would only use once every few years.
There were two Vegetarian & Vegan stalls in the main arena area, and both were really popular, with pretty long queues all the time.
One was the Honest Carrot and it offered vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free food such as carrot or beetroot and nut roasts or parcels filled with vegetables served with houmous, salad and pita bread, they also had really nice mixed potato, parsnip and sweet potato chips which were £3 (like everywhere else) and meals were around £5.50-£7.
The other place was even busier and offered pizza and vegan versions of burritos, falafel wraps, chilli, burgers and more, all for around £5-£7.
Their soy burgers were really nice!!
So after this experience, I’d say my festival/camping essentials are: (the highlighted words have sustainable versions of those items)
- Tent (borrow one / keep and reuse yours)
- Sleeping bag (borrow one / keep and reuse yours)
- Pillow or gummy clothing to use as such
- Refillable water bottle (plastic or metal)
- Sun cream
- Wet wipes – anything disposable isn’t really eco-friendly, but there are some wet wipes that are biodegradable, vegan and use less chemicals such as these Waitrose ones
- Rain poncho / waterproof jacket
- Antiseptic hand gel
- Loo roll
- Ear plugs (festivals are noisy 24 hours a day :) )
- Eye mask for the morning
- Hat and gloves
- Torch (best if manually chargeable)
- Snacks such as cereal / fruit / nut bars – I love nakd bars, they are vegan and 1 of your 5 a day, you can buy big boxes of them or 4 for £2.50 at Sainsbury’s and Cocofina bars are really tasty too, vegan and organic.
We had a great time, even though we did not litter once or leave anything behind ;)
So, just a few words more about Enter Shikari.
I cannot really compare them to any other band I know.
Their music is pretty unique, their lyrics are about topics that not many artists seems to deal with (to my knowledge) and their performances, as I said, are like no other…
Back in March he shared a picture saying he’d be speaking at London’s Z-Day event, so I booked a ticket straight away.
Z-Day is the Zeitgeist Movement Day. The Zeitgeist Movement is ” a sustainability advocacy organization, which conducts community based activism and awareness actions through a network of global/regional chapters, project teams, annual events, media and charity work.”
His speech was truly interesting and about one of the most incredible things most of us have the chance to experience in our lives: music – and its social value.
He went from analysing the definition of music, how it can affect us, and moved onto the limitations of music within our current economic system.
His talk is en eye opener on many levels so make half an hour fly by, take a look and have a listen: Z-Day 2014 | Rou Reynolds | Music’s Social Value.
You can even watch the video from all of the talks prior to Rou’s that evening: Z-Day London 2014 Full.
Other talks covered topics such as the gap between inventions and society’s ability to actually use them, decentralisation as the new paradigm, the relation between doing something for a reward and actual productivity, hydroponics, hydrophobic clothing, the Venus project, maglev trains, green energy and more.
What do you think of the festival’s green initiatives? Do you have any tips on being eco-camping?
What do you think of Rou’s talk?