Ten days ago, I opened my front door, dropped my muddy boots, felt the carpet beneath my feet and gasped at the calm that lay before me. I had been to Glastonbry Festival and although felt slightly bewildered by the complete change in atmosphere a mere 30 minutes drive away, it was a relief to be home.
Not only had I partaken in the partying, camping, glitter fuelled, dancing, cidering, muddy and sligthly sun burnt ordeal that is the biggest festival in the world but I had been a memeber of the Recycling Crew.
Yes, for the first year (out of many festival trips), I had been given the last minute opportunity to sign up as a member of the Glastonbury working team and of course, this was fabulous- a free ticket to Glasto, yes please!
My sister, who had thankfully arrived 2 days earlier than me to set up camp, met me at the purple crew parking field, in which it had literally taken me less than 10 minutes to get to from the main road. This by any means is a miracle when attending a festival of over 177,000 people and although I did stop to give a couple of girls a lift up the dusty track, I was practically on site by 3.30pm having only left the office at 2.30pm! Things we're looking good!
After dumping my ridiculously heavy bag (mostly booze filled) I went to the crew cabin to collect my food tokens (2 free meals per day), T-Shirt, gloves and information for the following morning.
We'd made the choice to work the 6am-midday shift, Friday to Monday, which made complete sense knowing that music started around midday and meant we wouldn't be missing out on all the good bits. What I hadn't anticipated (although I definitley should have) is that it's not the easiest thing to get to sleep by 1am when you're camping only a stones throw from the Pyramid Stage, particualy when your camping buddy decides it's a good idea to party until at least 2.30am. In her view, It's only picking up rubbish, right?
5am, my alarm sound and I'm up like a shot - quick shower (as they are free and certainly not busy at that time) and I'm raring to go for our first shift. No idea where we're supposed to be heading but as we're the West Holts Team, decide this is a good place to start.
We finally have our whole team together, registered and informed by about 06.40 (brilliant, nearly wasted an hour and haven't even picked up one piece of litter yet!) We're given three bags: a white one for compost (food, paper and cardboard), a purple for cans and plastic bottles and a black bag for general, non recycable waste. We're also told that last year only 47% of the rubbish accumilated was recycled and that we need to aim to increase that this year. Totally do-able!
Several of our team had a litter picker tool and although at first I begrudginlgy started without, I soon realised that you can pick up around 500% more rubbish and whole lot faster by bending down and collecting it by hand.
Looking back over the area after just an hours work, it's amazing to see the progress we had made. No longer a field of chaos, but a lush, green grass was back in site and although the grass quickly turned to mud and dust over the days, seeing the clearing was amazingly satisfying. On all days, we managed to finish our area in record time and we're called to other areas of the site (with some much needed water breaks in between). We also finished early (by 10.30am) on the first day and although we're told that this was just a 'one-off', actually finished before midday on all four days of the clearup- supposedly the teams we're very 'keen' this year!
There certianly wasn't a lot of chatter between our group during the morning slot, so this certainly isn't a 'social' job, but that's is made up by the organised evening parties for all crew and even a Michael Eavis appearance on the Thursday night.
The last day of litter-picking was definitley the hardest. I'd decided to party slightly harder on the Sunday night, knowing i'd be in my own bed within 24 hours and after a few hours dancing at Arcadia and then fighting my way through Shangri La, followed by 1 hour sleep, we we're officially too tired too work.
On Monday, a tired, yet cheerful cheer erupted as we we're told our shifts we're over and everybody took their final food token and meandered up Muddy Lane to our campsite to start packing up. Looking back over the Pyramid Stage field, noticing that at least 30% of party people have already packed up and left mad me sad However, to see that at least 10% more of these people had left without packing up, made me even sadder.
How could people be so lazy as to bring an inflatable mattress and new tent onto site and not be bothered to take it home or donate it directly to the Red Cross tent? These people must have more money than sense!
All in all, I came away from the experience pleased that I had taken part yet unsure if I would sign up again. I'm sure that once the frenzy of fighting for tickets in October and April passes and I am left ticketless again, I would probably consider my role and realise the positives of being involved in such an epic, 800 strong, litter pickers team and you'll see another post from me this time next year.