An unfortunate numerical coincidence linked this year’s Glastonbury anniversary and Greenpeace. In the 40 years that Glasto has been providing a superlative outdoor adventure for music lovers, 40% of the world’s rainforests have been destroyed. This does not bode well for the climate, nor for rainforest inhabitants, including the endangered orangutan.
Every 16 minutes, an area of rainforest the size of Glastonbury is cleared, mainly to make way for palm plantations. Accordingly, the theme of this year’s Greenpeace field was rainforests. We wanted to show people what we stand to lose if the destruction continues, but to demonstrate all the things a sustainably managed forest can provide.
The field featured a forest friendly, FSC-certified skate ramp, a giant climbing wall in the shape of a tree (a woman once insisted on doing the climb naked; a spectacle the Greenpeace team was adamant would not be repeated this year), cafes, and a lounge.
But arguably the site’s biggest draw card was its zero-carbon, rainforest-themed showers (for which queues often stretched around the field). Reminiscent of a Scandinavian bath-house, decorated with lush tropical plants donated by the Chelsea Flower Show, set to a soundtrack of exotic birds and boasting an (albeit scaled down) infinity pool, these showers were open to all, but fit for royalty.
Very appropriate then that the future monarch should deem an inaugural royal visit to Glasto in order this year. On the Friday, Prince Charles and his cavalry navigated their way down the dusty Glasto streets and into the Greenpeace field.
Charles is a big fan of the rainforests, and has set up The Prince’s Rainforests Project to help save them. The reception at the field was welcoming, with hundreds chanting, “We love you Charlie!” Others were slightly more standoffish, calling for Michael Eavis to be made King of England instead.
Backstage, Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne had also taken an interest in the rainforests. Initially he was glum when discussing the orangutans’ plight (“what can I do? I’m just the singer in a silly rock band.”) But then he saw the opportunity to give our furry friends some exposure. So that night, two Greenpeace volunteers, disguised as orangutans, appeared live on stage with the Flaming Lips, in what was described as one of their best ever performances (the Flaming Lips that is, not the orangutans).
Once again this year Greenpeace teamed up with Mi7 Records to put on live music in the Greenpeace field. We placed our 50-foot high world globe stage (known as the “earth dome”) in the middle of the field, and it played host to four full days of live music – some of it exceptionally good and drawing sizable audiences.
Last year the lovely Laura Marling and indeed Mumford and Sons cut their Glastonbury teeth on that same stage. This year, Mumford played "the biggest gig of their lives" in the significantly larger John Peel tent, but did take a moment to acknowledge their Greenpeace Glasto roots.
Each year Mi7 and Greenpeace put together a wrap-up video of the festival. Florence, the XX, the Flaming Lips and others make cameo appearances in this year’s edition, which is set to the Recycled Orchestra’s take on Tears for Fears classic "Shout" (the song is made using only instruments from recycled waste). The video played three times on the main Pyramid Stage on the festival’s last night – including just before Stevie Wonder- which was a huge achievement.
Glastonbury, Greenpeace, The Soil Association, and The Fairtrade Foundation again joined forces this year for the Green Trader awards, which recognise traders who’ve done the most to reduce the environmental impact of their business. Fresh Organic scooped this year’s top food-stall award, for, according to the judges, “doing loads of Fairtrade, organic, healthy food with a smile”. Cascada won top non-food green trader, for the minimal impact of its stall, and for close relationships with artisans and workers in Ecuador and Colombia. Part of the prize was a free stall for each at Glastonbury 2011.
So a true triumph of an event. Thank you again to Michael and Emily for being such great green hosts, thank you to hundreds of people who took the opportunity at Glastonbury to join Greenpeace, thank you to the THOUSANDS of people who joined the push to save the world’s rainforests and last but not least, thank you to Mother Nature for those uncanny clear skies.
Greenpeace Press Officer