We are F.W.R.D.
A charity set up to reduce the amount of perfectly usable items that get sent to landfill every year from festivals in the UK. We do this by educating festival-goers about the unsustainable consequences of their actions and by organising mass collections of as many of the abandoned tents, sleeping bags, tarps, clothes, shoes, food and other items as possible. We work with many other charities who help to distribute the items to the homeless, refugees and anyone else who could use them.
Who are we?
We are a collection of seasoned festival workers that, between us, have covered everything from fence building to ticket checks, confiscations to caravans but the majority of our experience has been as litter pickers, or waste management operatives.
It’s not glamorous, well paid or easy but it does give you a brutally honest view of the real impact festivals have on the environment and just how much waste can be generated in such a short time.
There are various stages one experiences when repeatedly cleaning up after what is essentially a massive house party weekend after weekend. First there is the initial shock at the vast scale of the task at hand and quantity of “waste”. This has been known to bring the odd eco-warrior to tears and can even be a point at which some people say “Never again!” to the job.
The next stage is interesting, the more events you clean up after, the faster and more efficient you get, knowing what needs doing when, how best to do it and how long it will take. This is where you take pride in your work, for example just how quickly it is possible to fill a 40 yard skip. This is where the next stage turned up and slapped us in the face. We managed to fill a 40 yard skip in 2 hours, full to the brim with tents, sleeping bags and camping chairs.
That’s when it really struck us, how can we take pride in throwing so much perfectly good stuff in a skip?! How blind had we become to what we were doing to triumphantly stand on top of a full skip like it was the top of Everest.
In 2015, we began taking time out of our festival work schedules to salvage tents and sleeping bags, and by 2016 we had set up a registered charity and started to set up links with other charities who could help to redistribute the salvaged items.
Since then, we have worked with dozens of organisations and charities to collect thousands of perfectly good sleeping bags and tents and redirect them from incineration to where they’re needed most. From refugee aid and homeless support to Scout groups and artists, the amount of people that can benefit from the abandoned items of festival-goers is astonishing.
Our motto is ‘F.W.R.D. Together’ so if you’d like to get involved in any way, please get in touch.
We’d love to hear from you!
Disclaimer!We are not the magical charity fairies that sweep down and clean up after festival-goers! They do not exist! We want to get people involved in the process so that their eyes are opened to the problem with a view to reducing future waste through education, hard work and changes in the way festivals themselves look at post-event waste. To reiterate, do not leave your tent behind, if you want to donate it that’s wonderful, please pack it away first! Just leaving a tent is not a donation, it’s lazy.
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