Locals fume over Splendour in the Grass aftermath: 'Grubs'

Byron Bay locals have hit out at the mess left behind after Splendour in the Grass which drew in 50,000 people for the three-day music event.

But after festival goers up and left their muddy campsites on Sunday following heavy torrential rain that wreaked havoc on the festival, locals couldn't help but notice the waste they abandoned.

Deflated tents littered the campsites along with chairs, blankets and random possessions all damaged by the extreme weather before being dumped and thrown into landfill.

The three-day event copped a drenching of rain wreaking havoc on festival goers: Source: Getty
The three-day event copped a drenching of rain wreaking havoc on festival goers: Source: Getty

Many party goers were even forced to sleep in their car after their tents flooded, while some tried to flee the festival early, but were faced with massive crowds and unprecedented wait times for buses.

Locals slam festival online

As the post-event blues begin to creep in for some, locals have pointed out the impact such events have on the environment, despite Splendour's efforts to exercise sustainable environmental practices.

"The most unsustainable and unorganised festival ever," one person wrote on Facebook. "In these times they shouldn't be able to run it without some strict environmental guidelines."

"I worked as part of the clean up crew for years doing 15-20 festivals a year and Splendour was always the worst," another claimed. "No one takes anything home! Gonna be a tough year this year for sure, glad I’m not doing it!"

Another slammed the attendees as "grubs".

Festivals 'notorious' for impact on environment

While event organisers have made an effort to swap out plastic straws and cups for more eco-friendly versions – as well as encouraging sustainable behaviours like car pooling or donating camping gear – some people say more can be done to help eliminate the post-festival destruction.

General scenes in the aftermath of Splendour in the Grass Music festival at the North Byron Parklands, near Byron Bay. Source: AAP/Jason O'Brien
General scenes in the aftermath of Splendour in the Grass Music festival at the North Byron Parklands, near Byron Bay. Source: AAP/Jason O'Brien

Sasha Mainsbridge, Projects Manager for Mullum Cares, a not for profit organisation that works with festival organisers to help promote sustainable consumerism, says it's not just Splendour – it's happening all over the world.

"Campsites at music festivals are notorious [for their impact on the environment]," she told Yahoo News Australia.

"Most camping festivals all over the world really struggle because of this problem, it’s the quality of the tents [and other camping items]."

Ms Mainsbridge claims that budget items bought for the sole purpose of festivals is what's causing the damage.

She said they're usually not designed to withstand such dire weather conditions so they become damaged, forcing people to leave them behind and unable to be used again.

"Textile waste is becoming the new plastic pollution," she said. "We’ve dealt with single-use plastic with straws and cups, now the next problem is textiles."

Trailer full of lost gumboots and items for collection at Splendour
Not-for-profit organisation Mullum Cares works with festival organisers to help reduce waste. Source: Facebook/Mullum Cares

This year, Mullum Cares aims to try and recycle a lot of what they've collected to avoid it going to landfill.

As for gumboots, of which there were hundreds if not thousands left scattered across Northern Byron Parklands, Ms Mainsbridge and her organisation decided to have them shredded and made into tyres.

Some were donated or redistributed to other festival goers who were happy to reuse them. Ms Mainsbridge said 56 pairs were rehomed.

Solution lies in shopping habits

Despite what the photos and videos indicate, Ms Mainsbridge — who partially lost her home in February's flooding event — said "there's never been less rubbish left behind" as there was this year.

Because of the weather, her team was expecting much more waste than 2019, which was a dry season.

She attributes this to her team, and others, being present at the campgrounds for the duration of the festival, salvaging damaged items that would otherwise be ignored.

The on-site presence also meant festival attendees had help with their possessions, being able to donate them or throw them away correctly.

"Most campers don't want to leave the campsite looking like a bomb went off, nobody wants that. Nobody feels ok with that," Ms Mainsbridge said.

"There's got to be dedicated teams at campsites and music festivals that are there to support the campers. We found that when we're here to help, they meet us half way."

A solution to the problem isn't banning festivals or campsites like many have suggested, but focusing on buying better quality items that can be used time and time again, Ms Mainsbridge said.

"I believe the responsibility is fifty-fifty. Festivals can make it easier for kids to do the right thing, we proved that," she said.

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