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From the blog

A Rubbish Summer?

by Stuart Dawks

After my previous blog post garnered a record number of views, I thought it best to share another nugget of life at PECT from the ‘reluctant environmentalist’.

This is my second summer at PECT and it’s been jam-packed with awards, festivals and events. It started with the Peterborough Eco Education Awards in June, which celebrate students’ environmental achievements over the year. The highlight of my day was being ‘dabbed’ by one of the pupils rather than the celebratory high fives I was freely distributing. I believe it’s now official, I am too old to be ‘down with the kids’.

The next highlight of my summer was the Peterborough Heritage Festival. I spent the day on the PECT stand giving away free trees as part of our Forest for Peterborough project, talking to residents about their environmental concerns, promoting the upcoming Planet B events, all while being slightly deafened by the ongoing cannon fire from the Guildhall.

However, by far the highlight of my summer was attending the Green Meadows music festival near Elton. I thought I had lucked out on using my volunteer day to help at a music festival – what could go wrong with a bit of sun, live music, beer tent and a litter picker?

Arriving on the Saturday morning, my illusion was quickly shattered! I had been successful in ‘coercing’ my wife and our friend to help me on the first shift after the opening Friday night. We were greeted with a sight that most will remember from any student house party – the ground was littered with bottles, cans and food containers.

While whiling away the hours collecting the litter, I did become slightly disillusioned as to why people in 2017 feel it is socially acceptable to drop litter, especially when bins are provided in close proximity (white bags in the picture).

Once my ‘rubbish’ team of volunteers had transformed the sight back into the lush green meadows it once was, it was time to sort the waste. The festival organisers had provided two bins at each location to allow tins and carboard to be recycled with signs indicating which items were to be deposited in each bag. Quite a simple process and surely most people would be used to recycling since they hopefully do it at home!

It soon became apparent that whilst most revellers could read and follow simple instruction, there was a rogue element who had no regard to ‘following the rules’!

The rest of my day was spent sorting the waste so that it could be stored in containers ahead of being recycled, and whilst anyone who knows me knows I love pizza, if I ever see another pizza box in my life it will be too soon!

While this was the first year PECT had been involved with the Green Meadows festival we are planning to work with the organisers in future years to make the festival even more environmentally friendly and replicate some of the successes from other festival such as Shambala.

Finally, I should point out that whilst I was busy sorting rubbish, battling wasps and enjoying the aroma of a skip on a hot summer’s day, my wife and friend did get to enjoy some of the perks of being volunteers, including listening to the fantastic live music, a cold cider and their first vegan burrito.

I would like to thank all the volunteers who gave up their spare time to make the Green Meadows festival that little bit ‘greener’, and I also give special thanks to Selina Wilson (PECT’s Office Manager) for persuading me to volunteer in the first place!

Stuart Dawk’s is PECT’s General Manager.