Festival season is coming to an end and while I’ve spent the summer scrolling through Instagram and seeing people partying it up in glitter and wellies at Leeds, Reading, Glastonbury and Burning Man, I thought I’d reflect on my first (and only) festival I attended last year: Leeds Festival!
First things first, festivals have never appealed to me that much and I never thought they’d be my kinda thing. I was kinda right. But when I saw Greenpeace UK advertising on Twitter that they needed volunteers for Leeds Fest last summer, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity. To be honest, I thought they’d have hundreds of applicants so I never expected them to choose me so I was thrilled when a couple of weeks later they rang up and asked me to join the team! Not only that, but they told me they were struggling for numbers so if I knew anyone who also wanted to volunteer then let them know… a quick chat with my boyfriend (he was grumpy because he wasn’t going to any festivals that summer) and he applied and was accepted within a few days!
Once our places had been accepted we just had to get ourselves to the festival and the meeting point for festival staff. We got to stay on the staff campsite (much cleaner and hot showers!) and were given two meals a day. I couldn’t believe I was not only going to my first festival but I was going for free!
However, I should say that I wasn’t officially attending the festival, as I had to work a 4-5 hour shift each day and therefore didn’t get to see many acts perform (although one of our stations was right opposite the main stage!). But the whole point of applying as a volunteer with Greenpeace was because of the work we were doing for their Deposit Return Scheme…
We basically stood in a little tent and gave people money in exchange for paper and plastic cups. It was a great opportunity to help educate people on the importance of recycling and the role plastics are playing in our current climate crisis. On average, 16 million plastic bottles are put into general waste and therefore not recycled every day in the UK. And that is just generic every day use. Leeds Festival hosts around 90,000 attendees, not including staff, every summer – just think how much plastic is used and wasted in that one place over one weekend. Greenpeace is a frontrunner in the fight against single-use plastics and so this scheme was a joy to be a part of.
It’s a cause that I’m really passionate about and while my boyfriend was mainly there as a way of seeing the acts for free, it was also really nice to share that passion with him and (I think) he enjoyed it and understood more about why I feel so strongly about sustainability.
Greenpeace, along with loads of other charitable organisations, ask for volunteers every year at a number of festivals all over the country. If you’re not so keen on grubby camping (me) or can’t afford tickets, check them out and learn a little bit too!