Brands, millennials & the great festival clean up

The great British press has drawn a large amount of attention to the aftermath of high capacity music festivals of late, showcasing fields strewn with debris once the main stage acts and throngs of festival fans have left the outdoor party. Photo evidence of sprawling post festival wastelands - comprised of discarded tents, lost wellies, beer cans (and a host of other items festival goers can’t be arsed to cart home with them) - are honed in on in a bid to make some sweeping generalisations about millennial youth and throwaway culture.

There’s an argument here that if a party looks clean at the end, then it couldn’t have been much of a party. However, that argument doesn’t really stand up very well in our eco-conscious age. That said, neither does the catch-all concept that a whole generation of young people are staunchly apathetic to the environment and their social responsibility.

Yes, some recent studies may have suggested that Millennials are less inclined to make a concerted eco effort (three times as many millennials as baby boomers said that they made no personal effort to help the environment in one major US study). However, this is also a generation that has strong beliefs about their ability to effect change and given a cause (with incentive) would support it vehemently.

As brands flock to be part of the festival action, setting up a plethora of onsite promotions to engage festival goers, the very idea of activating once all those captive potential customers have left, on the surface, holds little interest. However, there is a real opportunity being missed here, especially for those brands eager to champion (and gain valuable PR for) their CSR and eco values.  Maybe now it’s time for a brand to step up as a post festival clean up champion. A patron not just of the event experience but also the environment, actively supporting, encouraging and rewarding a generation for keeping festival sites spotless. 

Here are a few brands and festivals helping to make us all a little greener...

Cashback trash

A number of festivals offer financial incentives for not flinging your swilled beer receptacle into the nearest hedge. Field Day in Sydney offered a $1 cash back incentive to those who took their drink containers back to dedicated recycling hubs last year and it was hard to miss the myriad of scavenging kids at this year’s Camp Bestival looking to supplement their pocket money via the 10p per cup recycling program.  The festival’s bigger brother, Bestival, also runs the simple yet effective 'Tea for Trash' scheme, offering a much-needed cuppa to those who recycle properly. Carlsberg UK is yet another offering eco reward incentives for music fans in 2013, teaming with the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro) at the Latitude and Leeds festivals on its 'Every Can Counts' activation, giving coconscious recyclers the chance to win festival tickets.  The long and short here being that a little incentive manages to go a long way. 

Tent as bin bag

With basic tents costing less than the price of two festival burgers these days, it’s not difficult to see why many never make it back home post event. So with tents treated like garbage, why not use them to house garbage. Which is exactly what US homecare brand Glad did, converting its ForceFlex bin bags into tents in order to showcase the quality and durability of the product. The tents - which they gave away to festival attendees at the SXSW festival in Austin - could be utilised to dispose of waste post festival, highlighting the strength of the heavy-duty bin bags and creating the first zero waste camping experience in one simple, intuitive and easy to use promotion. 

Happiness Recycled

Coca-Cola has an established history of innovative and fun recycling programs at music festivals, having set up its ‘Recycle Gardens’ at music events across 2011/12 and its ‘Happiness Recycled’ initiative at Scotland’s Rockness festival in 2013.  The 2013 campaign focused on fun ways to recycle, turning bins into Basketball hoops and quirky flowerpots, whereas the Recycle Gardens honed in on the practical output of recycling, converting waste bottles into actual, useable furniture onsite. The key here is on turning eco waste disposal into a shared game rather than a chore, whilst also educating the public on the genuine benefits to be had from recycled products. 


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