According to an old saying, necessity is the mother of invention. After attending this year’s Voodoo Experience last weekend, it was clear that Voodoo needed to invent a better way to control its trash. Apparently, the event organizers didn’t correctly estimate the number of trashcans they would need to accommodate a 40,000-person crowd. Once the trashcans began to overflow, things got messy – fast.
It’s not like the festival didn’t try to keep things clean. They hired a team to pick up after everyone, but the workers’ method of walking around with a bag and plucking up each individual piece of trash didn’t come close to meeting the demand.
It was at this point that I was reminded of an experience I had the previous year at Sasquatch! Festival in Washington. The main stage was located directly in front of a giant hill. There was a walkway in front of the stage. They also had a booth that provided attendees with sign-making materials. This gave me the idea to make a sign, display it to the crowd while strolling around on the walkway, and see if I could persuade people on the hillside to bring down their trash. It worked! Everyone came forward with garbage, and a group of random volunteers and I filled countless trash bags.
With this experience in mind, I made a couple of signs before the third day of the Voodoo Experience. I had interviews scheduled for earlier in the day, so I decided to do my trash pickup at around sunset, during Griz’s set. As I headed out into the crowd to see if I could find some volunteers, a couple of festivalgoers recognized me as The Festival Guy and instantly agreed to lend a hand.
Off we went. They held the signs, I held the bag, and we danced our way through the crowd. Just like at Sasquatch! Festival, the crowd happily brought us the trash around them. Everyone wants a clean festival, but it’s hard to do anything about because the scope is so big. By putting signs up and walking the bag around, we made it easy for people to help make the festival cleaner. Now that this method has proved its effectiveness in a couple of different scenarios, I think that all festivals should do trash sweeps. Instead of having individuals wander through the crowd hoping to keep a lid on the problem, we should motivate the crowd to be a part of the solution.
Here’s a video I made that combines the two different experiences into one video. My hair is very different, but my clothing style (Grandma’s clothes) seems to be the same. So were the results.
Sign + Bags = People Picking Up Trash.
(Having two cute girls helping out probably doesn’t hurt, either.)
You can follow my war on trash on the following pages.