The kids are alright (well, relatively)
It's easy to point the finger at festival-goers for abandoning their tents. They're certainly not blameless - but let's not let the organisers off the hook, again.
It's the last week in August so this can only mean one thing.
It's time for the annual 48 hour social media furore about young people abandoning their tents at Leeds Festival.
Don't worry if you've missed it all.
Maybe set a diary reminder for next year so you can enjoy it all.
No need for any FOMO when it comes to this particular festival experience.
If you're not quite sure what I'm on about, every year in the days after the Bank Holiday weekend festival at Bramham, just outside Leeds, someone shares some footage of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of tents that have been abandonded by festival-goers.
Cue lots of hand-wringing about what on earth has happened to young people these days and how we thought they cared about the environment but they so very clearly don't.
Then by Friday it'll all be forgotten.
Until next time.
And this is my point.
This happens every single year.
It's a known problem.
And as such, in my opinion the primary responsibility for what we see each year lies with the festival organisers.
I'm not prepared to completely absolve festival-goers.
Do a quick Twitter search and you’ll probably find me ranting about this happening in a few years back.
It still makes me sick to my stomach to see all that waste.
But over the years, as it’s happened time and time again, I've tried to understand what’s going on.
Why do so many people abandon their tents?
I'm not totally naive. Some people couldn't care less about anything. I don't think we need footage of the aftermath of a festival to remind us of that.
But I also still believe, I always believe, that in the right environment most people will do the right thing.
So the question I ask myself is what is it about the environment created by the organisers of Leeds Festival that leads thousands of people to abandon their tents and other stuff they turned up with just a few days earlier?
You'd need to ask attendees themselves to get those answers.
Or perhaps the organisers will share their thoughts (they’ve been approached for comment by the BBC).
I’d love to know what they think - and I’ll share anything they say here.
But over the years, talking with friends (needless to say if you live in Leeds, like I do, there's no shortage of parents who can recount their children's experiences), I can get a sense of what happens.
Festival camping is unlikely to ever be a 5 star experience.
From what I've heard, that's certainly the case here.
My suggestion is that context and history might influence how much time some people want to hang around after The Killers have rounded things off on the Sunday night.
And after three or four nights with next to no sleep (and the rest), you're probably not bringing your waste-management A game.
You're probably thinking more about the six hours you're about to spend in the back of your mate's Ford Fiesta with your rucksack on your knee.
It's also quite possible that the tent you've got isn't in quite as good condition as it was when you put it up three days earlier.
But of course, I still think people can do better than this.
Yet I try to understand why this happens.
Festival organisers must anticipate this is going to happen. Factor it in. Include the cost of dealing with it in the cost of a ticket. Be ready for the 48 hours of people kicking off on social media afterwards.
And of course, they'll tell us about what they're doing to improve things.
How they invite local voluntary organisations to come in and salvage what they can on the day following the event.
UPDATE, 31/8 - here’s a detailed and insightful write up from Weetwood Councillor Izaak Wilson - who has been involved in discussions with Festival Republic in relation to this year’s festival, and also involved in salvage operations run by local voluntary groups.
But it's clearly not enough.
If you choose to run a festival that starts on GCSE results day - one of the few festivals that welcomes unaccompanied under-18s - then perhaps you need to be a bit more prepared for what might come with that.
So let's by all means have a conversation about how people need to take more responsibility.
But let's be honest with ourselves. The behaviour of festival-goers - their attitude to throwing stuff "away", or leaving stuff behind - is no worse than what we see in wider society.
It's just more visible, and it's concentrated in one place.
If you need convincing, go and visit your local council’s waste management facility, to get a feel for (and a whiff of) all the stuff people chuck away every week.
You’ll see no shortage of stuff that you won’t believe people have thrown away.
Or perhaps visit your local park on the morning after a sunny Sunday.
So if we think this is just a problem with young people, we’re missing the point.
In my opinion, responsibility for this - something which happens year after year - sits primarily with festival organisers.
And more broadly, it highlights a problem that is mostly hidden from us - our societal attitudes to throwing stuff “away”.
In reality, there isn’t an “away”. But we spend most of our lives thinking that there is - as we mostly just chuck stuff in bins or in skips and never give it another thought.
Until we see drone footage of Leeds Festival, and we’re confronted with the reality of how wasteful we have become as a society.
I notice the Festival organisers have been "approached for comment" by the BBC. Let's see what they say (I’ll share it here).
But they probably don't need to worry. By the time they get round to commenting, we'll have all moved on anyway.
And we can look forward to doing it all again next year.
Thanks for reading The Social Business! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.