Pemberton Music Festival cleanup highlights need for change

Keith Harasymiw FacebookThe time it takes to clean up after an outdoor festival should never extend past the time of the festival itself. Seems like a reasonable idea, right?

But at the Pemberton Music Festival, which was held July 16 to 19, the cleanup is expected to run four days and involve hundreds of staff and volunteers. Metro Vancouver ran a spread on the cleanup, and the photos are upsetting, to say the least.

It would appear that every single one of the some 110,000+ music lovers who visited the Pemberton Valley that weekend threw out at least one cup, sheet of paper, or cigarette butt.

Of course, not everyone who went to the festival made a mess – in fact, the full trash bins and strangely garbage-free squares of grass prove that. But the others more than made up for their attempts at being decent human beings. And with small mammals and birds being present in the area, you can be sure that much of this waste is being moved about to nests or causing injury to unsuspecting critters.

It is clearly a time for change in how we, as a society, look at these types of events – particularly with more on the horizon next month (and for the foreseeable future). There are lots of possibilities to consider:

  • More and larger garbage receptacles;
  • Refillable bottles as part of the ticket (to eliminate plastic bottles and paper cups);
  • Create enforceable by-laws regarding smoking and cigarette butts at similar events; and,
  • Make sure that performers remind guests to clean up.

We don’t know if one of these ideas is the answer, or even plausible. But we do know that we can’t keep letting our landscapes be marred for the sake of once-a-year music festivals, especially when we’re already facing droughts and massive wildfires. We’re ready to sit and talk about solutions – are you?

Photo of Pemberton Music Festival cleanup by Facebook user Keith Harasymiw


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