Understanding the Age of Extinction
We are living through a biodiversity crisis, or what scientists are calling the ‘sixth mass extinction’, as around 1 million species face extinction, many within decades.
May 7th 2021
Glastonbury festival was in full flow this weekend, but this year, it’s not just the music the festival has a major focus on.
Environmental change has been a pressing topic in the media and within people’s consciousness. With the rapid rise of Extinction Rebellion, a movement which brought London to a standstill with its protests in April, and 16 year old Greta Thunberg becoming a poster girl for climate change activism, the world has witnessed lots of moving and shaking made by ordinary people who want to see our planet being treated with care.
Inspired by the climate change movement, massive companies such as Pizza Express, Waitrose and Costa have all made efforts to remove plastic straws from their establishments, replacing them with either paper or biodegradable ones.
Even Glastonbury festival- the world’s iconic music festival situated in Worthy Farm, Somerset, England- may just be having its greenest year yet.
The legendary festival has banned single-use plastics throughout. Traders have been stopped from offering single-use plastics- where all serve ware must be “made from paper, card, wood or leaves and be fully compostable”- and festival-goers have been urged to bring reusable tents, wipes and water bottles, which they can refill at one of the 800 taps on site.
This positive move was created in an attempt to inspire attendees to live more sustainably. Glastonbury’s 2017 edition of the festival shockingly generated approximately 2,000 tonnes of waste, causing a £780,000 cleanup job.
But 2019’s Glastonbury festival has spawned a new eco-friendly philosophy, to “Love the Farm, leave no trace.” The festival organisers created a pledge, which includes agreements for attendees to “bag up rubbish in the bin bags provided by the campsite”, and to “take all belongings home, including tent and camping equipment”. People have even been encouraged to bring reusable raincoats, ponchos, and invest in bio-degradable glitter if they wish to use.
100 recycling pens have been placed across all campsites, which will help prevent bins from overflowing. Sustainable stainless steel pint cups are also available from the WaterAid kiosks, costing £5 to purchase. Cups can be returned at the end of the festival for a full refund.
According to World Economic Forum, around 150 million tonnes of plastic is floating in our oceans. It can take thousands of years for a plastic item to decompose. In the meantime, plastic contaminates water, soil, and toxic manufacturing chemicals transfer to animals, which then enter the human food chain.
Plastic straws and bags suffocate wildlife and block their stomachs. Certain animals such as dolphins and turtles perilously mistake plastics for food.
Glastonbury’s green ethos is a step in the right direction. The festival attracts around 175,000 individuals each year. One can only hope that these new green measures motivate the festival’s traders to continue banning single-use plastics- not just for the 5 days they are there.
I hope attendees incorporate this easy green ethos into their daily lifestyles, for the sake of our dying planet and the future of those who will come after us, plus, I hope Glastonbury continues on this path for future festivals.
Our society has become accustomed to a throwaway culture, where no one is accountable or mindful to the destruction of our planet. Yet, it really is very simple to achieve a slightly more sustainable lifestyle. If Glastonbury, a massive, globally renowned festival can ban single-use plastics, then so can we. Individual action is just as powerful, and together we can achieve systematic change.
You can read more about this year’s festival and an appearance made by famous naturalist David Attenborough, who made a speech about the importance of reducing single-use plastics in this article.
Written by WorkingAbroad Blog Writer Lucy Wooding