FRANCOBLOGGO IV: At festivals, leave no trace, baby!

Hey hey hey! Sam again here. Festival season is nearly over, and my lord we are having a lovely time. The food, the sun, the heat, the music, the people. From city dwelling for so long, even the fabrication of a field in England setup to shield city dwellers from the elements is enough for us to shout out to the world “By God I’ve missed getting back to nature!” The rolling green hills, the threateningly wet looking sky, a dainty vegan nut bar wrapper caught in the breeze dancing with an empty can of K cider.

It doesn’t take long to realise we have lifted our trash happy lives and sensibilities and dumped them in the countryside. Comedian Louis C.K. does a great bit about littering in New York. The fact that we have paved over ‘the environment’, created a trash pile out of concrete and now virtuously demand that our waste into put into plastic bags and trotted out to what is left of the countryside to be shoved in the ground.

This summer we have been more aware at festivals than ever at how we can make little changes to leave no trace.

As a touring musician, walking into your dressing room is like Christmas morning at the Shrodinger’s. You’re either going to be unwrapping a cute new pet, or some spoilt meat. Especially at our level, where you wonder whether they even attempted to fulfil your rider. Generally speaking, there is usually a bottle of red wine, a few beers, a bowl of nuts, a bag of salad and a massive pack of individual water bottles.

These water bottles are thrown back very quickly and straight into the single bin with an unknown destination. There are some benefits – you don’t want to spread any strep throat amongst the vocal members of the band. And it’s troublesome taking a pint of water onstage only to kick it through your pedals.

At a venue in Stockholm we were delighted with a note saying ‘here are some glasses, help yourself to our world famous Swedish tap water’. It didn’t disappoint. Twas like see through liquid silver. We have since adjusted our rider to try and reflect a more reasonable and ethical list of products and refreshments. Simple changes like jugs of tap water and glasses, to fresh market fruits and loaves of bread from bakeries. Sure we can hear the groans from the poor runners who have to go and source these things, but you have to start somewhere.

The last point I want to make is something that always gets me sad at the end of any festival – especially if I am one of the last to leave. Amid the bags of rubbish left at each individual’s spot, stand the discarded tents. Left for someone else to take down. If there was one action that so encapsulates our disposable culture, it is the idea of a £20 single use tent and its owner wandering off, satiated in the knowledge that their donation of a tent will probably go to a refugee camp somewhere to help them poors.

The image is a harrowing one.

I get quite angry about it. So, sorry dear reader. What can we do? Ban cheap tents? Guard dogs used to ‘encourage’ people to pack away their tents – would make doing the pop-up tent fold-down dance more entertaining for sure. Tears streaming as it keeps exploding open.

Personally I think it’s more systemic, and therefore more complex. It is dissuading people  from misusing their disposable incoming. Value the things we have. Buy things to last. Take care of our belongings. As always we need to change our culture. And that always always always starts with us. It then perforates out to our friends.

Leave no trace baby!



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