Wednesday, 7 August 2013

A festival of plastics

Like many people will do over the summer months I went to a music festival last weekend.  Over the four days I decided to do some plastics spotting ....

The variety of tents were amazing and truely became some people's home from home.  With wind breaks and picnic tables and chairs, tableware and cutlery all being made of plastics making for a lightweight, waterproof shelter with all mod cons and flags for easy location.  The number of solar powered outdoor fairy lights meant that at night the campsite looked like a little city.

The weather was astonishingly changeable from blisteringly hot sunshine to torrential rain. I was very grateful to be inside our tent when the heavens opened on Friday morning. We have a specific festival tent which is made of cheaper materials than our 'proper camping' tent. Unfortunately, there is more chance of a tent being damaged at a festival than at an ordinary campsite so we take a less precious tent made of polyester sheeting and fibreglass poles rather than the more expensive rip-stop nylon and carbon fibre poles of our camping tent.

It is a sad fact that many people going to festivals purchase cheap tents with the intention of leaving them behind, sometimes not even taking them down. The Love Your Tent campaign has been developed to create a behaviour change in festival goers and encourage them to reuse their tents. Our festival tent was in fact purchased second hand and is still doing us proud having been to several different festivals over the years.

Over the weekend many people brought picnic chairs on to the arena so that they could sit and enjoy the music in comfort. These folding chairs with seating made of either polyester or nylon are light to carry and fold up relatively small making them easy to transport around the site. The Big Top style tent housed the main stage and not only protected us from the heavy rain but also from the hot sunshine beating down on us. I don't know what the material is, it is possibly polyester, but it certainly seemed very robust.

The lady in the image below was obviously prepared for bad weather but found that the polyester canopy of her brolly provided a respite from the sun just as well as it would from the rain.

I did get to see some bands as well as spot plastics during the festival.  Interestingly Dexys were the only band over the weekend to use an acrylic drum screen.  These screens are designed to reduce the sound of the drums on stage, making it easier for the performers to hear the other instruments and voices. They also reduce the risk of feedback from miked up drums or sound spill to other microphones on stage.

Plastics were used to create a sense of luxury at The Tea Garden with their plastic, working water fountain, and the roses 'growing' around the stall.  The wipe clean, polka dot tablecloths added a sense of sophistication to the setting.

A cup of Earl Grey is all well and good but when at a festival you cannot beat a pint of real ale. These polypropylene glasses seemed to have a little more substance to them than some plastic glasses which flex too much.  These do of course create a lot of waste and recycling, the best solution I have seen to the 'glass' problem is a branded thick polypropylene glass for which the customer pays a small deposit.  They keep the glass all weekend, washing it at the provided cleaning station.  At the end of the festival they can either keep it as a souvenir or return it and get their deposit back and if they are canny they will find discarded glasses and make a little bit of money.  This then saves the stewards clearing extra rubbish. A win-win solution.

There were quite a few other occurrences of plastics which I spotted  including these recycled plastic picnic rugs... 

... but I thought I would stop short of photographing the porta-loos, grim!

Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)

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