Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Love the farm, leave no trace

My annual pilgrimage to Glastonbury Festival has left me feeling happy, content and blooming knackered and in need of a few days lying down in a darkened room where I can't get sun burnt. Whilst I brace myself for a return to work tomorrow (although I've already had a brief heads up from our Hannah so I hope I know the worst of it already) my mind turned to thinking about the parallels between the festival's campaign this year and our work.

This year the Festival asked everyone to 'Leave No Trace' and 'Take it Home'. But I kid you not, the above is a picture of how Glastonbury's camping fields look like by mid-day on the Monday. Last year the following items were abandoned on site:
9,500 roll mats
6,500 sleeping bags
5,500 tents
3,500 airbeds
2,200 chairs
400 gazebos
not to mention copious amounts of uneaten food and drink in the form of cans, pot noodles, bottles etc, and so much other sundry items that it looks like some folks just get up and go home with nothing but the clothes they are wearing.

I'm pleased to say that it did look like there was less abandonment this year, but it was still a terrific amount and testament to our society's wasteful attitude.

What I find quite staggering, and here the parallels perhaps begin, is that when festival go-ers arrive on site they are given a variety of different bags for recycling and disposing of their waste. There are also something crazy like 15,000 recycling/waste bins around the site so it is impossible NOT to recycle at Glastonbury but yet people have the wilful neglect not to.

On one day I was sat in what we call a 'dance monkey' area listening to The Orb. There were a group of lads in their 20s with different recycling bins right next to them, yet they threw stuff on the floor rather than make an effort to put it in the bin behind them. This attitude is something that we greet on a daily basis on our office line - the view that it is always someone else's problem, not their's. I also get incredulity from these same people because I dare to say " I'm sorry I can't help". They think I am so out of order for NOT doing something about their problem (or the problem they have created) and perceive the matter to be my problem and not theirs! I realise, actually, that this 'theme' transcends across so many aspects of our society but the fact that a living being gets treated just like any other unwanted commodity is what chills me to the core.

The items that are abandoned by the campers are sold so cheaply these days that a great deal of value is not levied on them and it's just the same with animals. Before I went away someone came forward to claim a rabbit. They told me, inadvertently, that in the last month they had lost two, but had replaced them each time 'for the kids' cos they only cost £15. When I said we had spent £100 kitting bunny out for adoption he said "you can keep it, I haven't got that kind of money". I never asked for the £100 but that's by the by, the point is animals are seen as commodities, than can be 'got rid of' when they don't want them any more, replaced or made money from.

I wonder when our society will start taking responsibility for its actions, when individuals will stop acting like the world owes them something, when respect and value (not of a monetary kind) will be placed on an animal, and when we will see an end to the thousand upon thousand of animals being abandoned in our country each year.

One happy parallel, or two, I can draw is this.....
Since upgrading to a campervan 5 years or so ago, it has become a guilty pleasure of mine to go 'wombling' when people have begun to leave the site and abandoned their stuff. Whilst wombling this year I met a lovely couple, a little older than me, who shared my passion for wombling and said they took home whatever they could carry rather than leave it to go into landfill. The lady, just like my hubby, didn't even drop a single fag butt on site, and cheered me up after we had groaned about peoples' selfish actions by saying 'at least WE are making a difference'. So it got me thinking... at least WE are make making difference to the lives of animals we help. Ok, so we don't always have a happy ending and sometimes animals get returned after adoption and sometimes, sadly, they have to be put to sleep, but we are making a difference and, above all, treasuring what has once been neglected, unwanted, unloved and disrespected - a life, an animals' life and I am so glad we are there for them and can show them the love and respect they deserve.

So, my first job for tomorrow? Collecting a cat from the RSPCA animal hospital that was another victim of society's 'throw away' attitude to unwanted things. But, hey, guess what? I'm ready to take up battle position again - so bring it on!


What Susie wombled from Glastonbury Festival 2010 (from just a quarter of 1 field out of approx 20 designated camping fields):

2 brand new cool boxes (for keeping veggie hotdogs frozen at RSPCA Summer Festival)
10 new freezer blocks(for keeping veggie hotdogs frozen at RSPCA Summer Festival)
1 new camping stove (for cooking said hotdogs)
5 beach wind breakers (to be used at RSPCA Summer Festival - it's Seaside themed!)
massive ground sheet (for use on allotment)
lots of tent pegs and poles (for use on allotment)
brand new camping chair
Approx 120 cans of cider, lager and ale
1 gazebo