This weekend, myself and 80,000 others are making the journey to Slane Castle to see Harry Styles. No I don't know what I'm wearing yet.
As it's my first time heading to Slane for a gig, I've been doing my homework. Those 'Everything You Need To Know Ahead Of This Weekend' previews have been helpful – especially Louise Bruton's Legless In Dublin Substack piece – for knowing what gate to aim for, what to expect on the roads, and – our topic today – the food and drink situation.
We have, excuse me, a major problem in this country when it comes to waste at gigs, and the decision by Slane organisers to ban reusable bottles and food from being brought on site should be reconsidered for future events. With 80,000 people on site from around 2:30pm, not to mention security, staff and crew, that's a hell of a lot of single-use plastic cups, water bottles and cutlery.
The case against metal bottles is fair enough – nobody wants to see poor Harry lobbed in the head by a 500ml Chillys bottle – but considering the vast majority of attendees will be far out of lobbing distance, why not apply the ban to those with tickets to areas closest to the stage? Providing water refill stations around the site is a good start, but if organisers are serious about cutting down on waste they need to do more.
Not allowing attendees to bring food on site is another baffling decision. Waste from food vendors who have no obligation, or incentive, to provide sustainable food packaging is sure to be high – allowing people to bring their own lunch for an all day event is hardly a safety risk and promotes a free-for-all on pricing.
We know it can be done, though. Body & Soul have done a brilliant job in recent years of implementing reusable and returnable cups and promoting a no-waste festival strategy. I went to Body & Soul last year and was truly impressed by their commitment. Billie Eilish banned plastic cups and straws from her Where Do We Go? tour in 2020, and allowed fans to bring their own water bottles. Glastonbury, in 2019, announced a ban on all single-use water bottles on site, meanwhile the below photo is the aftermath of Metallica's Slane gig in the same year.
We know that punters support these changes. There's nothing worse than leaving a venue or returning to your tent while swimming through a sea of single-use plastic beer cups, disposable rain ponchos and plastic forks. I've despaired at the end of brilliant gigs in Vicar Street at the amount of plastic cups that were impossible to recycle. The worst part is that it's all for nothing; there is literally no benefit to promoting this culture of waste at Irish gigs, especially in an industry that already has such a significant impact on the climate.
Anyway, back next week with a vibe report. Nice to see you all again, I won't leave it so long next time. xxx