Beyond asana: BYEco camping

I have been to many, many festivals in my life thus far – I love them. I love the mixture of freedom , meeting new people, disconnecting, dancing, music, camping in nature as well as discovering different things along the way.

I have been to Electric Picnic many times over the years, it being the largest music festival in Ireland at this stage so you are always guaranteed to have something happening that is of interest to you. It is always a great place to just go and explore and see what and who you come across along the way.

B.Y.Eco Camping 

This year went along to teach yoga at the Eco Campsite, take photos, speak to the campers and just get a sense of what this wonderful space is all about.

One aspect of festivals that I have become increasingly aware of is the waste created and the impact that they have on our environment. Firstly the rubbish that is left behind, the use of single-use plastics such as beer glasses, coffee cups, straws and food containers but also the amount of tents, sleeping bags, duvets and chairs left behind – to name but a few of the things I have seen left across abandoned campsites, leaving only a graveyard of rubbish.

Be Your Environment (B.Y.E) is a community camping environment and an opportunity to educate and create awareness about our impact on our immediate environment and to find solutions which will create a more balanced lifestyle and festival experience.

However, festivals – or humans- are not going anywhere for a while so seeing a new form of education like is offered here in B.Y.E is something we need more of.

This year’s Electric Picnic was a massive eye-opener for me, I don’t know whether I was not thinking about or aware of the waste as much on other years but this year I was shocked and disgusted to see what we can create in such a short space of time. The Monday morning was obviously the worst, but the place was a bombsite even by Friday afternoon.

I do think that the onus is on both the participants but also on the festival itself to somehow ensure that there are enough facilities for disposing of rubbish and to provide adequate recycling stations. To somehow create an awareness and adopt a Bin Your Empties (or Bring Your Empties home with you!) attitude that is taken seriously and expected of all those who wish to attend.

It is all about the community here with the BYEco Agent of Awareness team.

Eco Ethos

Here is a little background as to where this whole project started life. First born was Be Your Environment in 2007 in the form of a green messaging style theatre and the message was simple – Bin Your Empties. This ran for seven years and within that there were artistic workshops around green messaging and separation education with an incentive style exchange for the collecting of recycling materials. Rewards such a T-shirts were offered in return for bags of separated recycling. 15,000 T-shirts were given out across Ireland over those Seven years. They began to experiment with Eco and Green camping and it worked, so in 2008 they consolidated their efforts into B.Y.Eco Camping – creating the first full Eco camp at Electric picnic.

There are three simple rules to follow if you sign up to camp at the B.Y.Eco campsite:

  • Respect your neighbours
  • Be aware of your environment
  • Recycle your empties. 

Be Your Environment (B.Y.E) is a community camping environment and an opportunity to educate and create awareness about our impact on our immediate environment and to find solutions which will create a more balanced lifestyle and festival experience.

“Yes, sure we can say that there is not enough bins or facilities to recycle your waste at Electric Picnic or at festivals in general, but we can still comprehend the basic common decency to clean up after yourself.”

The aim here is to provide a fun, clean and safe campsite as well as develop an understanding of ways to live in a more sustainable manner where ever we go. Each participant is offered the opportunity to just come and enjoy the spacious, relaxed and clean environment as well as offering the opportunity to learn (and share) new ways to reduce our impact and inspire a more harmonious relationship with nature and our surroundings. This ethos is not just for one weekend but it is hoped will carry on for years and generations to come.

Ultimately B.Y.Eco’s vision is to create an off-grid camping system, using festivals and large gatherings as the platform for this research. This research can then be implemented in the E.C.O- Emergency Camping Organisation, a charity organisation that aims to be able to deploy an off grid camping situation to any displacement of people in the world; such as natural disasters, refugees crises, holding camps etc – something which we are witnessing more and more of nowadays.

Yoga MC sharing yoga over the weekend.

The Sense of Community 

B.Y.Eco campsite was an inspiration and a credit to everyone who camped but also to the organisers and all of the crew who are all equally passionate about inspiring and ensuring that the campsite was kept rubbish free as well as creating a space where everyone felt relaxed, safe and part of the B.Y.E community.

That was certainly an element that I loved about this campsite, the sense of community and knowing that, for the most part, your neighbours are all here with the same understanding of respect to others and the environment. As I was there by myself, it did make me feel that bit more relaxed as I can sometimes get a bit anxious at festivals by myself if I feel I will be surrounded by messy and rowdy folk – which can be the case in many, if not most, other campsites. There was absolutely no drunken rowdiness or anything more sinister than just a great bunch of people here to have a good time and do their bit for the rest of the camp and the environment at the same time.

Environmentally aware picnic goers both enjoying themselves and keeping their camp clean.

What you actually get when you sign up to the B.Y.Eco campsite.

Let me first begin by saying that B.Y.Eco registrations are free but usually book up within minutes of going live as anyone who has camped here (myself included after this year) find it very hard, if not impossible, to camp in any other area after a B.Y.E festival experience.

This year at B.Y.E you had: LooWatt, a waterless toilet system, a luxury one at that! These toilets seal your, ahem, business in a biodegradable lining material which is then emptied into an anaerobic digester converting the waste into natural gas and fertilizer. Let me tell you that the novelty of having clean toilets every day did not wear off for anybody. I think every camper I spoke to mentioned how amazing they were and a definite plus to their camping experience!

The LooWatt pamper station with Eco friendly products.

We had Sharon Shannon’s vegan food truck; Garden of Vegan serving delicious and warm vegan grub for the weekend – from dahl and rice to beetroot burgers and three different smoothie options to choose from, for a much appreciated (and needed) vit hit! Aside from the food being delicious it was all served in 100% compostable containers and cutlery.

Our caffeine fix was provided by The Coffee Bean who served us the good stuff in compostable cups and lids with smiles all weekend and with non-dairy milk for the vegans among the crowd.

The campsite have several Nifty Bin station where you can recycle everything into their individual bins. Aluminium, soft plastics, hard plastics, food waste and another bin for things like chewing gum, cigarette butts etc. Nothing is left out and all the bins are closely monitored by the B.Y.Eco ‘F.B.I Agents of Awareness’ also known as Festival Bin Inspectors, ensuring there is no cross contamination and to explain or help campers with their recycling/waste disposal queries.

Keeping the campsite clean for everyone. Nifty bins and eco campers in action.

All in all what Stephen has created here is so inspiring. Just walking around the other campsites on Monday morning made me feel even stronger about the fact that we need more organisations like B.Y.Eco and Nifty Bins and more people like Stephen and all of the other companies and people who make the Eco Campsite what it is. Education is key, this is what you will get here, education in how we can change the (unsustainable) ways we do things.

The campsite was completely free of rubbish (except for a small amount and a tent of two left by some bold Eco Campers). Everyone had cleared their rubbish as they went over the weekend, the field was left green and glowing as it had been when we first arrived on Friday. This is the ethos that will then spill out into other areas and carry on in people’s minds – to recycle and bin your empties.

From an Apocalyptic Mess to Utopia?

What the weekend at the Eco Campsite showed me is that it is not unattainable to have a weekend at a festival, have fun, enjoy yourself but at the same time to clean up after yourself as you would in your own home.

B.Y.Eco campsite was an inspiration and a credit to everyone who camped there. The organisers and all of the crew who are all equally passionate about inspiring and ensuring that the campsite was kept rubbish free as well as creating a space where everyone felt relaxed, safe and part of the B.Y.E community.

Yes, sure we can say that there is not enough bins or facilities to recycle your waste at Electric Picnic or at festivals in general, but we can still comprehend the basic common decency to clean up after yourself. To collect your rubbish and bring it home with you. To take down your tent and bring it home with you. Don’t just leave your sleeping bags, camping chairs and whatever else you feel you no longer need – until next year when you will probably buy more.

Someone has to clean it up, it has to go somewhere so why not take responsibility for what you brought with you? Sure, it is not ideal on a Monday morning after a weekend of partying, dancing and little sleep. Sure, I get it but ultimately it feels better, it may not be your immediate home but this planet and this environment is your home. It is all our homes and if we just make these small steps before it is too late then we can not only do our part to clean up the mess we have created but we may inspire others to do so. Perhaps just cleaning up around your own space may inspire your neighbors to do the same.

The remnants of the campers in the Oscar Wilde campsite.

 

Ultimately we are all conscious beings who are capable of deciphering what is the right thing to do here and we all know it feels much better to do that. To make a little sacrifice along the way for the greater good and for something that needs our help and our care now more than ever.

 

B.Y.Eco Campsite founder Stephen Corcoran and I

If you want to learn more about the work of B.Y.Eco and how to come along or how to get involved then you can check out the facebook page here or email Stephen: byeco.stephen@gmail.com.

 

I also got to teach yoga over the weekend.

 

 

 

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