Leeds Festival’s volunteer clean-up crew were left “utterly appalled” by the recent aftermath of the 2023 event, which took place over the bank holiday weekend (25 August to 27 August).
Following the festival’s closing performances on Sunday (27 August), clean-up crews were deployed on Monday to try and “salvage tents and equipment for a refugee charity”, according to volunteer Jack Lowe.
In a video posted to X/Twitter showing the venue’s sprawling open space covered in discarded tents and trash, Lowe wrote: “This is just a fraction of it – littering on the grandest scale we’ve ever witnessed.
“It’s going to take us a while to digest what we saw,” he added. “Utterly appalling.”
Lowe had volunteered to clear the site and dismantle tents on behalf of a north-east-based charity helping refugees in France, ITVX reports.
He also shared a link to the BBC’s drone footage, which showed the scale of the festival’s aftermath.
It’s going to take us a while to digest what we saw when we went to help salvage tents and equipment for a refugee charity at the end of Leeds Festival yesterday.
This is just a fraction of it — littering on the grandest scale we’ve ever witnessed.
Utterly appalling. pic.twitter.com/vNWOjIul74
— Jack Lowe (@MrJackLowe) August 29, 2023
Agreeing with one commenter who argued that festivalgoers weren’t entirely at fault, Lowe responded: “The problem is the system that makes an industrial consumer society like ours.”
Another person condemned festivalgoer behaviour, writing: “Disgusting. If people can’t tidy up after themselves, stop the festival until they learn.”
“Unfortunately, I don’t get the sense that the festival care, Alfie. The only thing that matters is whether they made money. As ever, profits over planet,” Lowe replied.
The Independent has contacted Festival Republic, the organisers of Reading and Leeds Festival, for comment.
On Saturday (26 August), the company’s managing director Melvin Benn told ITV News: “The message to festival goers all of the time is to try and look after the environment really.
“We work really hard on making sure that people recycle and take their belongings home with them,” he continued. “Most people do, some people don’t. Some people are untidy and we have to tidy up after them.”
The festival’s website advises people to “buy a durable tent that you can use again each year” and to “say no to single-use, take your tent home”!
The issue of abandoned tents and trash strewn about is something that the Leeds Festival faces every year. In 2019, environmental activist group Clean Up Britain proposed festivalgoers should pay a deposit of at least £25 to encourage them not to abandon their tents.
John Read, the group’s founder, told The Independent at the time that he hoped the deposit scheme would prevent “the very sad sight of seeing thousands of tents just abandoned in Reading and Leeds”.