In comparison to the small local Exmouth festival Wychwood was very different. Big names such as Bill Bailey, Soul II Soul and The Human League were playing on the main stage and rather than returning to warm comfy beds each night festival goers were mostly camping on site. The biggest difference I noticed though was the recycling. Where Exmouth had rubbish bins Wychwood had colour coded recycling bins for All Plastics, Cardboard and Paper, Food and Other Waste; and even All Metals. The other difference was that these bins (always sets of four with all recycling options available) were placed every few meters. So I doubt you were ever more than 10 meters from a recycling point, so no excuse not to recycle then!
This all seemed to work fantastically well. I could see people checking they were putting rubbish in the right bins, making an effort to get it right (with so many people around you didn't want to be seen getting it wrong!) and generally it was just the done thing to recycle all that you can. I wonder if people recycle as carefully at home? Maybe people would be a lot more careful if they thought their neighbors were checking their bins. The only problem I could see with the system was that many of the products on sale at food and drink stands were a mix of products. Hot drinks were a mix of cardboard and plastic, so where did they go? It would be interesting to see if organsiers could plan recycling around what waste would be produced, or if they could make stall holders only provide products that matched available recycling facilities. But in general, it was the best waste management I've seen at an event. I seem to be getting a little obsessed with rubbish! I didn't spend the whole festival watching recycling bins!
The types of stall and visitors probably partly explains why everyone was so good at recycling. Many visitors were very keen on green issues, and many stall had an environmental theme. Washable nappies, conservation charities, ethical clothing and Fairtrade and local food all featured around the festival. My favourite (other than our RSPB stand of course!) was the British Ecological Society (BES) stand.
Themed around wildflower meadows the Sex & Bugs & Rock and Roll tent looked great and aimed to celebrate 100 years of the BES. With a daily festival bioblitz the stand was always buzzing and the staff and volunteers were full of enthusiasm for wildlife. You could watch a bee hive, find out what type of wildlife you are (I think I was a frog) and best of all find out how gross your festival kit was by being swabbed. At the RSPB stand we had been making festival headbands from unwanted fabrics (the most fun I've had recycling for a long time) and I'd been wearing mine for three days before I had it swabbed.Probably covered in sun cream, face paint, sweat and many other things I was surprised how little was growing on my petri dish which had been covered in whatever was on my headband. Some of the others are completely covered in patches of bacteria and growths.
You can have a look at mine (Green Life) and others on the website right here.
So, a great festival for recycling, a brilliant festival for wildlife (waking up to the sound of a Skylark singing was incredible) and a nice discovery that maybe I wasn't as grubby after three days of work as I felt.