The number one most important thing at any festival is the venue. That’s what really makes a fest unique. The lineup, the stages, the lectures, none of that stuff can be effective unless it’s presented to you in an effective way that compliments the area. Your favorite artist ever could be performing at a festival, but if the stage is set up in such a way that it gets overly congested, which in turn prevents you from hearing the music without being having all the extra air squeezed out of your body, then it’s the festival’s fault you weren’t able to enjoy it. Now, you’re scanning song kick for the next time that artist plays a local show.
Obviously there are certain issues with festival venues that can’t be avoided or altered once the gates have opened for the weekend. Stages and water stations can’t be moved. Food vendors can’t appear out of nowhere. No one likes forced noise curfews. Because of these unfortunate circumstances, it’s our job as festival attendees to recognize how important the venue is to a festival and try to make the venue better for everyone else. One of the easiest ways to do this is to pick up after yourself.
It might seem like a super basic idea because frankly, you should pick up after yourself everywhere, but nevertheless it’s an idea that needs to be emphasized again and again. So the next time you’re too lazy to find a trash can at a festival keep these thoughts in mind.
1. It’s in the spirit of the festival
Every festival promotes something different. Some focus on music. Some focus on gemstones, but one thing almost every festival mentions on some level is environmentalism. This is especially true among the transformative festivals like Lightning in a Bottle, Symbiosis Gathering and Burning Man. In addition to charging 20 dollars for non carpools and advertising their camping policies as “Leave it Better, Leave it Beautiful”, throughout the weekend if there isn’t a lecture that specially addresses environmentalism and sustainability, there will be lectures that lend themselves to that end. For example, at Symbiosis this past year there was a lecture on bicycles and how they are better for your health and the environment. Essentially, these festivals take literally every opportunity they can to get you to respect the environment around you. If you’re not willing to do so, you don’t belong there.
2. Respect the venue
Other than well established festivals like Coachella, very few fests stay in the same venue for more than a few years. This means that the people behind these fests are constantly working to find a place with all the necessary amenities to be able to accommodate a festival and the thousands of people that come with it. If a fest is going to work, the venue needs to be able to hold multiple stages with ample room for crowds, a serious amount of open space beyond the actual grounds to fit all the campers and their cars, roads wide and flat enough to make it easy for people to traverse the venue, a layout that allows all the logistical needs to be fulfilled such as a presence of medical teams and sanitation crews, and most importantly, the venue needs to be willing to hold the fest at all.
When it comes down to it, almost all of the venues that fit such a description are public land. Not because there aren’t private properties capable of hosting such an event, but because the owners of those private properties don’t want their land to be ravaged in the way they would expect from a festival. At public campgrounds, if the promoter is willing to pay the necessary fees and abide by the rules, the venue is available to them, but one of the most important rules they have to abide by is keeping the public land as pristine as possible. If a festival leaves a public campground looking like a landfill, the festival will be forced to find a new home next year.
Seems like picking up your trash is a small sacrifice of time and energy to maintain such an event.
3. It’s the right thing to do
When festivals have lectures/learning activities, it’s not just because it’s cool to learn new things while you’re there, it’s because the people behind the festival want you to take that knowledge and apply it to your everyday life. Lecturers on veganism don’t want you to be a vegan for the length of the festival, they want you to consider the prospect of becoming a vegan yourself. Considering that all of these fests work so hard to promote environmentalism, it should be clear by now that being environmentally conscious is something that extends far beyond one weekend of fun.
Obviously you’re not expected to drive from the festival to a car dealership, sell your car, buy a bike, and ride home with all your stuff, but you should apply the ideals you embraced at the festival to your life in practical ways. Be nice to people. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Pick up your trash.