Glastonbury: Climate change activists receive rock-star welcome at festival

28 June 2019, 02:01 | Updated: 28 June 2019, 05:02

Glastonbury's opening act didn't have to play a note to attract the crowds. With the festival putting climate change front and centre of this year's gathering, activists received a rock-star welcome as thousands came to be part of an environmental rally.

Their message was simple - without urgent action Glastonbury's green fields could soon be gone.

Tiana Jacout from protest group Extinction Rebellion says when she asked festival organiser Emily Eavis if they could come to Glastonbury her response was a quick: "Of course - how can we help you?"

With a replica proudly on display of the pink boat the group used to hold up London's Oxford Street, Ms Jacout says the reaction they've received has blown her away.

"I think people are really getting it, it's now for the government to get it.

"This is the movement of movements... we can't fight it anymore. We all have the do our best because this is a climate emergency."

Just as important as the famous headliners is Worthy Farm itself. A dairy farm at its heart, back when it first opened, the entry ticket came with a free pint of milk. But as the festival has become a cultural behemoth, running a temporary town the size of Oxford has tested its green credentials.

This year Glastonbury is addressing its drink problem. In 2017, the last time the festival was on, more than a million plastic bottles were sold on-site. This year their sale is banned. Instead people have the choice of buying water in a can or filling up at one of numerous taps.

Festival-goer Phil Crisp, from London, said: "It's just easier to carry a hard bottle that isn't going to leak in your bag."

Tess Gilligan, from Exeter, was equally supportive, saying: "It saves money as well as waste."

As for the camping, rather than cheap pop-up tents often abandoned after use, people have been asked to bring tents that can be reused for "a lifetime".

There is one place you'll find plastic bottles. The panels of Shangri-La's Gas Tower Stage are made out of ten tonnes of plastic collected on litter picks, then pressed-down to create an alternative to wood.

The idea was conceived by Orca Sound Project. Its founder Jolyon Klean explained: "All the plastic was collected up from beaches and could have ended up in landfill or incineration.

"What we're trying to do is create a solution and up-cycle or repurpose and give them an ongoing lifespan."

Reuse, reduce, respect is this year's mantra. People here might be hippies at heart, but the hope is that the call for change is heard way beyond Glastonbury's fields.