The Great Glastonbury Clean Up
Year after year, thousands of die-hard music fans descend on Worthy Farm to enjoy the world-class experience that is Glastonbury Festival. This year, the much-anticipated festival takes place between June 22nd and June 26th, promising stellar sets from Ed Sheeran, Foo Fighters and a host of other incredible acts.
However, when the music ends and festival-goers make their way home, an intense clean-up operation gets underway to get Worthy Farm back to its pre-festival glory — after all, the site of the festival remains a working dairy farm.
With some 135,000 people descending on the farm in 2016, this clean-up is no mean feat. Here, growbag retailer Compost Direct investigates what happens to restore Worthy Farm back to its day job post Glastonbury Festival.
Each Glastonbury festival-goer is asked to remember the pledge “Love the farm, leave no trace”. As part of this initiative, guests are asked to:
Use the toilets provided
Dispose of rubbish in the bins provided
Take all belongings home with them
Use the recycling bins provided where appropriate
However, despite the best efforts of the organisers, 2016’s festival generated 500,000 sacks of rubbish, 57 tonnes of resusable items and 1,022 tonnes of recycling. Of course, this rubbish is not just made up of the usual festival items like burger boxes and disposable cups. Also in the mix is a host of personal belongings — from camping chairs to tents and wellington boots.
And despite the best efforts of the 1,800 litter pickers the festival hires, it was reported that the clean-up operation was still underway some two weeks after the festival began in 2016.
When the rubbish is cleared, organisers have a new issue to tackle: mud. With thousands of people trampling across the field, mud is inevitable. Throw in the rain that Glastonbury is synonymous with and the fields are left muddied and water-logged.
2016 was a particularly bad year for mud, with founder Michael Eavis describing it as the muddiest to date. He said: “I’ve never seen mud like it in my whole life. This is worse than 1997. In my 46 years, it hasn’t been as bad as this.”
So, what happens in the weeks and months after Glastonbury Festival ends to get rid of the mud and restore the farm? The land is allowed to recover before cattle are allowed to graze on the land again. According to founder Michael Eavis, the land actually recovers fairly quickly — usually within around six weeks — and the festival itself has actually been likened to holistic grazing.
However, the festival naturally takes its toll on Worthy Farm. In fact, in 2018, the festival will be taking a fallow year, in order to rest the land and help it recover.
The Glastonbury clean-up is a huge project, but with so many unforgettable experiences and memories, it’s definitely worthwhile. As festival-goers, we can make more of an effort to aid the clean-up of the event, ensuring Glastonbury Festival can be enjoyed with minimal impact to the environment for many years to come.