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Cleaning up for the Cows – Who are the Glastonbury Recycling Crew?

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Love The Farm, Leave No Trace!

If you’ve been to Glasto before you have probably heard or seen the motto ‘Love The Farm, Leave No Trace’. Recycling and sustainability are some of the core values of the festival, and festival-goers are encouraged to recycle where every possible.

However, when everyone is partying all weekend it’s natural that there is going to be some littering. And even those who aim to put their waste in the bin will soon see them overflowing. Yet, as if with a stroke of magic, upon unzipping our tents in the morning our eyes behold the beautiful litter free fields, once again. Who are these unsung heroes that keep the festival clean you might ask?

Glastonbury clean-up rubbish left behind
[photo via Getty]

The Glastonbury Recycling Crew has been picking up litter since the 90’s and they grow in size every year. Started by a man named Rocky and a trailer with a conveyor belt on to sort through the clutter, the team now boasts 2000 + volunteers and is lead by the company Critical Waste. The recyclers come from all over, with some travelling as far as Canada to be on the crew! They work in a variety of different shifts; some starting before the festival, some after and many waking up at 5am throughout the weekend! When the rest of the festival is either asleep or partying, the teams are busy picking up the mess left behind. It’s important to remember also the teams that stay behind once the festival is over, fine combing the fields for tiny pieces of rubbish. The fields need to be cigarette butt free before the cows come home!

It’s a tiresome job, with some areas significantly worse than others. The Pyramid Stage on the Monday morning is a mammoth job! Especially harder if it has been a particularly muddy year! But the hard work pays off. In 2016 1000 tonnes of waste was sent to recycling. In 2014, over half (54%) of all the festivals waste was recycled. That’s over half stopped from going into the landfill! It is suspected that as the message of ‘Love The Farm, Leave No Trace’ is further spread this percentage will rise.

Not only do the recycling team physically pick up litter, they also have dedicated teams ensuring that all the vendors at the festival are doing their bit too. Only compostable or reusable plates and cutlery are permitted on site, and the recycling team will ensure that nowhere uses plastic spoons or the dreaded plastic straws. It’s terrifying to know that plastic cutlery takes up to 400 years to decompose, so the work the Recycling Team do is essential to not only bringing the festival back each year but also protecting our beautiful planet.

Despite all the hard work, however, you will never hear the Recycling Team moan. In fact, they love their job, and it shows by the vast number volunteers who come back each year. The team has many ‘Veteran’ members who have been recycling at the festival for over 5, 10 and even 15+ years.! Being on the team brings a real sense of community and it is a wonderful way to make friends with like-minded people. The team throw a start of festival party every year, and many of the team take it upon themselves to dress up. As much effort is put into the costumes as is put into the litter picking! Michael Eavis always pops along to say hi to the team and is always so grateful for the hard work that is put into keeping the festival clean.

Cows back on Worthy Farm after fastest Glastonbury clean-up
[photo via wwoof]

The Glastonbury Festival Recycling Crew work tirelessly every year to ensure that the festival can keep going. Without them, it is doubtful that the festival would even run. And a lot of them do it for free – their love of the festival and keeping it clean is what motivates them. So next year, if you see the team make sure you thank them for the hard work they do for ALL of us. Perhaps spare a thought for them next time you are packing for the festival, asking yourself if there is anything you don’t really need to pack. Unfortunately, not everything can be recycled and so many tents, sleeping bags, and broken trolleys get thrown into landfills. So most importantly, help them out by taking all your belongings home with you at the end of the festival.

Remember – ‘Love the Farm, Leave No Trace

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Lovely – thank you!

A. Glasto-Recycler

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