Splendour In The Grass is one of the best festivals Australia has to offer. Three days of potential-mud-filled madness, no showers, devilish antics, and, of course, impeccable live music. It’s also an occasion that inspires punters to spend hours and a heap of cashola to turn out some serious looks. But this year, smack bang in the middle of the festival, there’s a stark reminder of the impact that fast fashion and textiles waste have on the environment.
Talk about a downer when you’re drunk off your tits trying to boogie and vibe.
While it’s a buzzkill, there’s a reason we need to start having these difficult conversations.
Australians are amongst the largest consumers in the textile world. We send a whopping 227 million kilograms of clothing waste to landfills each year. And according to The Guardian, we buy 15kg of clothing and then ditch 10kg of clothing into landfill each year.
As the cycle continues year after year, the demand on our environment stacks up too. To produce the amount of cotton thrown away by Aussies each year uses up 500 gigalitres of water which is enough to fill Sydney fkn Harbour.
Pretty alarming, hey?
This year at Splendour In The Grass, the ABC’s War On Waste created a fast fashion graveyard installation sanctioned by the festival. Inside, were gravestones with shocking environmental stats and long-forgotten outfits from the festies of yesterday.
It’s an important initiative targeting people who might need a gentle reminder of the impact their one-day outfit has in the long run.
As I watched people interact with the installation, I wanted to see what punters at Splendour In The Grass had to say about it – especially those in fab festival fits.
Positioned next to the graveyard, I approached a bunch of people who had turnt it UP. The first pair of gorgeous gals I spoke to truly fit the bill. I’m talking sparkles, diamontes, lace, and of course, glitter.
“We did plan outfits for all three days. We did it for fun,” one said.
“We know that [Splendour] is a place where you can get away with wearing whatever you want and expressing yourself and your fashion sense more than you usually can.”
“We purposefully picked items that we knew we would wear again. I’ve mixed a bunch of festival outfits, many I’ve worn before at festivals in a different way,” the other told me.
While these gals had tried to approach their festy fits consciously, others just wanted to look sexy AF wearing clothes that they didn’t care would be ruined by the rough and tumble weekend.
“Honestly I didn’t really think about it,” said another punter, gesturing to the graveyard.
“I wanted to look hot. I love dressing up and just wanted to enjoy myself. But after last year I wanted to get cheap shit because it would probably get ruined. We’re camping and I didn’t want to worry about expensive shit.”
Conversely, some Splendour-goers felt conflicted about the ethics of festival fashion but loved the spectacle.
“There’s definitely a pressure to dress in a festival kinda way,” another told me.
“I’ve been going to a lot more hippy festivals and then coming here it’s very different. It’s good though, I really like seeing the creativity and it’s fun but I think we need to think about festivals in a more conscious way.”
As you can see, it was a pretty mixed bag.
Personally, I believe that festivals aren’t just about the music. They’re about the experience, feeling free and unified with other punters around you. They’re an escapist dream where all you have to worry about for three days is having a good time. But even as someone going to Splendour In The Grass for ~work~, I still felt the pressure to front up with a bunch of festival-ready fits. It caused more emotional stress than I expected, TBH.
Ultimately I believe that you can engage with vibrant festival culture whilst still shopping in a sustainable way if you try hard enough, but the general pressure of consumerism is pretty fkn hard to avoid.
For now, let’s just try out best to limit the consumption of clothing and avoid fast fashion where we can – even while trying to live the dream at a festival.
To learn more about the impact of clothing waste, you can watch War On Waste on ABC iView from Tuesday, July 25.