Every summer, shocking pictures of post-festival clean-up operations do the rounds on social media and shock us all. Next year, we vow, we won't forget to do our bit to clear up after ourselves. We'll recycle our plastic bottles and take our £20 tents home after the festival fun has ended – but then the hangover kicks in and we forget.
So it's helpful that festivals – one in particular – will be encouraging attendees to adopt greener habits this year. Glastonbury Festival – which will see 135,000 people descend on Somerset's Worthy Farm over five days from 26th June – is taking revolutionary steps to reduce how much plastic waste it produces.
In February the festival, which works closely with charity partner Greenpeace, announced it would be banning the sale of single-use plastic bottles on the premises for the first time. Attendees won't be able to buy non-reusable bottles anywhere on site and they'll no longer be supplied or available in the backstage, production, catering and dressing room areas, while the number of water refill stations will treble.
"Greenpeace advise that by far the best way to avoid plastic pollution is to reduce plastic usage. With more than one million plastic bottles sold at Glastonbury 2017, we feel that stopping their sale is the only way forward," the organisers said.
It gets better. This week Glastonbury revealed that a whole dance arena in the festival’s Shangri-La area will be made from plastic waste found on beaches, streets and in parks in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, the BBC reported.
Ten tonnes of plastic waste will be used to construct the 'Gas Tower' 360-degree arena, which will host sets by artists and DJs including Sub Focus and Bicep. The rubbish will be collected in beach clean-ups beginning this month, before it's processed by Exeter City Council and recycled into materials to build the stage.
Keep Britain Tidy, which is working on the project alongside the Orca Sound Project and Shangri-La Glastonbury, described it as a "ground-breaking project" that will see tonnes of plastic removed from our environment, where it wreaks havoc on wildlife and marine life, "and put to good use".
While Glastonbury is by far the biggest festival fighting against single-use plastics this year, other smaller events are, happily, following suit. This week, more than 60 independent festivals urged shops to stop marketing tents as single-use items, or "festival tents", as such language perpetuates the idea that festival-goers only need to use them once.
"I think many people believe they'll go to charities and the reality is that most won't – they will go to landfill with no other option," said Paul Reed, chief executive of the Association of Independent Festivals. The average tent is comprised of mostly plastic – an amount equivalent to 8,750 straws or 250 pint cups, the group said.
With the war on single-use plastics and the concept of "festival tents" stepping up a gear in 2019, it's only a matter of time before our entrenched beliefs are rewritten entirely.