'Throw-Away Culture': Festivalgoers Would Rather Ditch Their Tents, Equipment Than Carry Them

Australian music festivals are begging their fans to do better, with startling figures showing festivalgoers think it's fine to leave rubbish and even their tents behind when they go home.

Green Music Australia has released its Festival Littering report, showing that -- despite efforts from popular music events to raise environmental awareness and reduce their footprint -- young fans still haven't quite got the message.

After surveying more than 800 patrons of the Falls and Unify Gathering festivals in Victoria and the Party in the Paddock festival in Tasmania last year, the extent of the "harmful throw-away culture" of some attendees was exposed.

Rubbish left behind at Splendour In The Grass in 2015. Photo: Alex Bruce-Smith

Nearly two-third of people surveyed said they didn't think it was their responsibility to clean up rubbish that someone else had left behind. More than half thought that their tent would slow them down on leaving the event, encouraging them to leave their camping supplies behind instead of packing up.

Half thought their waste didn't go to landfill -- spoiler alert, most of it does -- and the same number just wanted to "get the hell out of there" once the festival was over.

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One-fifth of people bought a new tent specifically to attend the camping festival, and more than a third of them didn't care if their tent was destroyed on its first outing.

The type of waste left behind at the Glastonbury Festival in England. Photo: Getty

This attitude matches with the photos which are splashed across websites and newspapers in the wake of festivals around the world, where piles of stinking rubbish and a veritable ghost city of broken tents are left behind when the punters go home.

Many festivals have initiatives to collect discarded camping gear and distribute it to homeless shelters for people who are sleeping rough -- but still have to devote large resources to clean up festival sites, which in Australia are often in beautiful and precious natural parklands and forests.

"It sounds super obvious but we need our audience, you, to do the obvious things to keep our beautiful Parklands home in sparkling condition," Splendour In The Grass, one of Australia's biggest festivals, tells fans on its website.

ON their website Splendour called the choice to leave rubbish behind "unfathomable", saying it "makes us really sad".

People at Splendour In The Grass having a much nicer time. Photo: supplied

"You have a choice. Leave zero trace at your campsite and watch your neighbours follow suit. Spread the environmental good vibes and lead by example," the festival's website states.

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Splendour, along with a number of other festivals run green initiatives to get people to think about the impact they have on the environment -- both while they're at the event, and after they go home. More festivals are instituting schemes to encourage to reuse their drink bottles and cups, either through a container deposit scheme to get people to return recyclable vessels or by rewarding people who collect rubbish themselves.

Splendour gives fans the option of buying a $3 'carbon offset' with their ticket, which goes to local environmental initiatives. Wollongong's Yours and Owls festival partners with local groups to encourage plant trees and remove weeds in the area of its event.

Falls Festival last year went "plastic water bottle free", not allowing any single-use bottles on its site.

"Being right by the beach, Yours and Owls is particularly conscious of the impact that litter can have if it blows into waterways and pollutes the natural environment. That is not the new world we want to live in," a spokesperson for Yours and Owls festival told 10 daily.

The festival will soon launch a new campaign titled #partywithapurpose, aiming to "to raise awareness of ways we can have fun without negative impacts on other people or the environment."

The Green Music findings have coincided with the launch of a new Cleaner Campsites Industry Roundtable, with representatives from leading events including Splendour, Falls, Unify, Lost Paradise, Woodford and Strawberry Fields. The members have agreed to start a marketing campaign to encourage guests to take home their tents or start on-site initiatives such as a repair team to fix broken equipment.

Don't leave your festival campsite looking like this one, from Germany's Wacken Open Air Festival in 2017. Photo: Getty

"The dumping of tents, marquees, and other camping equipment at multi day music festivals is a growing problem, both in Australia and overseas," said Green Music CEO Berish Bilander.

"The music scene has the ability to use its powerful social platform to inspire better behaviour and make single-use uncool."

Splendour is coming up next month, with a huge lineup of acts including Childish Gambino, Tame Impala, SZA and Chance The Rapper to visit Byron Bay. The festival's general manager, Elise Huntley, said her event would be keeping up the fight.

"We know that people want to do the right thing and we will work together as a group to provide them with the opportunity to do so through education and awareness," she said.

"Forming an alliance to tackle campsite waste at festivals is a massive step in the right direction."