Dear 18-year-old Kid with Dreadlocks & a Grateful Dead T-Shirt… ~ Cassandra Smith

Via on Jul 10, 2012

Barely Relephant Bonus: Date an Eco-Responsible Boy. 

Bonus: The “Eco” Corn Cup: Trojan Horse for GMOs.

If you throw one more cigarette butt on the ground, I’m going to kick your ass.

You are not cool just because you are at Wakarusa/Summer Camp/Bonnaroo/Electric Forest and haven’t showered in over a week. You are not a true hippie, and you are not recreating some mythical Woodstock.

What you are, in my opinion, is an eco-asshole.

If you’re going to call yourself a hippie, or try to live a Woodstock-inspired lifestyle by frequenting today’s music festivals, please pick up your trash. (And even if you’re not trying to call yourself a hippie or recreate Woodstock, please pick up your f*cking trash!)

The Woodstock generation is the same generation that first spoke up about the damage we are doing to our earth everyday. The generation that started these festivals we love so much stood for peace and love, but also for protecting our beautiful planet.

If there was ever a time to recreate to the Woodstock generation’s passion for saving the environment from the devastation of a consumption based culture, it would be now.

But instead, all I see are teenagers throwing processed food, plastic and cigarette butts all over the beautiful places festivals are held. By doing that, not only are you disrespecting a place you paid to be in, you’re also giving the middle finger to the people that hoped these kinds of festivals would inspire change.

I know you probably think it doesn’t matter if you litter because someone else is paid to pick it up later.  To me, using that logic is the same as not brushing your teeth because you have a dentist you can pay to do that.

Shouldn’t we all be accountable for properly disposing of our own trash at festivals? Shouldn’t we all be working together to create the best experience for everyone?  It’s hard to have a good experience when you step barefoot into a plate of day-old peperoni pizza.

Most of these festivals even make vast efforts to make it easy for you to not be an eco-douche. They have trashcans every 50 feet with signs that explain what can be recycled and composted. Is it really that hard to use them?

If we keep trashing the venues we love so much, they will lose their beauty. Then, where will our grandchildren party?

In order to protect our festival venues for future generations, I think the solution is quite simple. All you have to do is self-enforce a Leave No Trace policy and “never let it hit the ground.”

I saw and learned how this works at Burning Man, where the amount of littering is close to zero. All of the participants work together to keep their environment trash-free and take all of their trash with them when they leave.

It may sound annoying to you, but the practice of leaving no trace helped create such an amazing experience for everyone that it inspired me to continue to do so in my daily life (as much as possible).

So please, pick up your trash as festivals (and everywhere else); it’s really not that hard. And if you already do, please help me to remind those who forget.

burning man

Change starts with you.

To learn more about the efforts music festivals are making to become greener, please check out these sites:

Electric Forest: Electric-ology Progam.

Bonaroo: Greening and Green Activism.

Sonic Bloom: Keep the Scene Green.

Wakarusa: Recycalusa.

Summer Camp: Festival Greening Initiatives.





Bonus: Yoga Festival Packing Checklist: Top Ten Things to Bring.


10 Tips How to Live Zero Waste: 


Cassandra Smith was formerly an editorial intern at elephant journal and and is currently the social media and marketing coordinator at Gabriel Sales.  She is a fifth generation Colorado native who believes dance has the potential to liberate human consciousness from its cultural prison.  Cassandra formerly trained at Boston Ballet and recently graduated from University of Colorado Boulder with degrees in journalism and sociology. Visit her website at, and follow her on Twitter.

 Like elephant Green on Facebook.

About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive—and get your name/business/fave non-profit on every page of Questions? info elephantjournal com



357 Responses to “Dear 18-year-old Kid with Dreadlocks & a Grateful Dead T-Shirt… ~ Cassandra Smith”

  1. Great article. Thanks, Cassandra.

    Bob W. Associate Publisher
    facebook, twitter, linkedIn

  2. Kelly W says:

    best article I’ve seen published on EJ.

  3. karlsaliter says:

    Nice! Loved the title, and the message is dead on.

  4. BalletNut says:

    Great article! I hope this goes viral!!!!!

  5. Lisa says:

    Not a fan of this article. The first two sentences were not uplifting and could be a more enjoyable read for the reader with the same information. You think it's just "You are not cool just because you are at Wakarusa/Summer Camp/Bonaroo/Electric Forest and haven’t showered in over a week. You are not are true hippie, and you are not recreating Woodstock," people, I think not. This article should speak to all people that commit these eco crimes. Teenagers are often oblivious to anything but their little bubble, probably most will always be, unless they are raised right, and I bet in years past it was ten times worse.

  6. Risa says:

    Wow! Great message as a whole, but pretty confrontational and unsound… Yesterday's "hippies" are some of the most UN-environmentally sound people around today:) Looking at pictures of Woodstock, I would not have guessed that it was produced in an "environmentally sound" way, at all… While, yes, there will always be those members of a generation that do not live up to others standards. But instead of pointing fingers outwards, just keep on doing what is important to you and set an example for those around you… dreadlocked, dead heads included.

  7. Lisa says:

    Though good message for all people including teenagers.

  8. Tracie says:

    I'm with you 100% on this message!! I was taking a walk with our teenaged babysitter one day and when she finished drinking her soda, she shoved the empty cup into someone's shrub as we walked by their house. I unloaded a can of verbal whoop ass on her and told her if I ever saw her litter like that again, I was going to dump the contents of my kitchen trash can on top of her car so she could see how it feels to have to live in other people's garbage. They're clueless unless/until they're taught/shown.

  9. Melanie says:

    In theory, I like going to music festivals, but the trash everywhere is what makes an otherwise enjoyable experience unpleasant. Dancing on discarded water bottles and plastic cups is not fun. I appreciate your article Cassandra, because it’s really not that hard to throw your trash away or put it in your backpack to dispose of later. I’ve been to Burning Man, too, and that is proof that tens of thousands of people can throw a giant party and not trash the land.

  10. ryan says:

    Yeah cause the “real” hippies didn’t leave mountains of trash at woodstock right?

  11. Michael says:

    Good piece, and I also get annoyed with the wannabe neo-hippies who don't even know what they are hippie-ing about.. But in fairness, look at footage or photos of Woodstock '68 after it was over — it was a filthy, toxic disaster area that took days, and bulldozers, and a lot of money to clean up:…. So unfortunately, the original and "real" hippies really didn't set many good examples.

  12. Michael says:

    PS: I just got back from one of my regular trips to Asia, and in Vietnam in particular, it is perfectly normal for people to throw trash out car windows, off moving scooters (which are everywhere), or just about anywhere else. When I was growing up (70's) it was still not unusual for people to throw stuff out car windows, but fortunately that is pretty rare here now. So when I see it over there now, it is really more shocking than you might think such a "little" thing should be. Makes me sick.

  13. Lisa says:

    So funny that people are ripping on teenage "hippies"

  14. Well said! I am a frequent burner and have gone to a few of these kinds of festivals and it KILLS me to see so-called 'spiritual' and 'enlightened' people trashing the land and leaving beer cans in the port-o-potties–if we have no respect for our immediate environment, it is a clear lack of respect for our own selves and humanity as a whole…

  15. devacat says:

    I agree with the sentiment, but we smoked a lot of everything back in the day. Ryan has it right.

  16. lol says:

    I'm the only real hippie!

  17. Phil says:

    I agree with your motive and main argument, but don't believe for a second that Woodstock had anything to do with eco-friendliness. Max's farm post Woodstock:

  18. peter burrell says:

    I was prepared to be amused at an 18 year old adopting his or her grandparents' symbols of rebellion and intoxication (Garcia and ganja) as a taking-off point about making new things of your own.

    Eco-anything was much more of an afterthought for the woodstock generation than anything else. The real work was being done by folks like John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson and Clair Patterson.

  19. Margie says:

    Good article. It's not the wardrobe its the role you're willing to play. I would like to add one thing though…The first people in the Western tradition to be concerned about the treatment of the environment were the Romantic poets and then later the Transcendentalists. The hippies were greatly inspired by them….

  20. Rob says:

    Why the attack? What is a REAL hippie anyway? I agree that it would be nice to not have so much garbage left on the ground but there is a better way to write about the problem without a personal attack. Bad karma.

  21. Suri_k8 says:

    Are you serious?!! Do you even know what you are talking about?! Please , do google Woodstock aftermath images … and you will realize that your romantic vision of Woodstock is nonsense.

    Max Yasgur the owner of the farm where the event took place wasnt very happy either “His farm covered in trash, obliterated by a half a million young people partying their asses off…”

    Also…As if the Woodstock crowd wasnt composed in its entirety by stupid stoned teenagers.

  22. Dave says:

    Yeah, they ARE recreating the Woodstock generation.

    Hippies, on average, seemed just as self-absorbed and destructive as kids today. I think you're romanticizing that "movement"–to whatever degree there was genuineness or cohesiveness to any of it. That doesn't changes the point that people should deal with their trash with the most appropriate methods, and try to create a lot less of it in the first place.

    Also, I agree with some who say this article is overly confrontational, but then that is true of a LOT of Elephant's posts. They can also tend to be narcissistic, under-informed, and underdeveloped. That's my opinion, for whatever it's worth, and it certainly doesn't apply to all of Elephant's contributors. But if I were making reading recommendations to a friend interested in modern spiritual outlooks, this site wouldn't be on the list because it promotes too much pride and anger and not enough wisdom and compassion.

  23. max says:

    wood stock took several days and a reported 100 grand to clean up being a hippie was about political freedom. sure a lot of them were conscious of our effect on the world but the base of your argument is completely moot. next time just focus on the issue instead of grasping at straw iconic ties

  24. Tiney says:

    I was just at Electric Forest and i actually found the venue and camp sites to stay extremely clean. I can't remember one instance I was dismantled by the filth. When a venue is that beautiful i think it inspires people to do the right thing. I agree with you totally, but your snarky attitude needs to be reexamined.

  25. DEADHEAD says:

    i think the underlying issue is that most of the people littering are the kids that bring 1000 glowsticks to throw on the ground, and the frat douches that feel entitled to do what-ever the fuck they want because their parents payed $320 for a vip ticket… douche bags with neon wayfarers and "SEX DRUGS AND DUBSTEP" shirts should be the target of this article. most of the dead lots i've been on were extremely clean and well kept, mostly because the inhabitants lives are spent there, direct your shit talking to those who deserve it.

  26. ULTRA<sigh> says:

    i totally agree with the basis of the article but it was defintly rude and pretentious…. as burner i am all about leave no trace but talking down to the people who arent aware of what they are doing is not the way to teach….lead by example and dont try to be holier than thou because you dont litter……half of burning man is pretentious…" my art is to tell you what to do" so please try not to spread negativity with false knowledge and a hateful title but instead talk about the positive ways people can teach themselves how to change….we all know that dubstep is ruining our lives :) but when these kids wake up and look around them and want to creat and give back thats when they can be better people….not when others tell them they are idiots and force their ideals on them…..right or wrong i never listen to people talking down to me

  27. roo_vian says:

    You spelled Bonnaroo wrong.

  28. WestCoastFestiKid says:

    I totally agree with this article. Leave no trace, it’s not a hard concept. Now for these festi kids in the MidWest and East Coast, they don’t really know about leaving no trace, because nobody has ever shown them. That to me is sad. I think leaving no trace is an important part of our culture. Then again The West Coast is the best place in this country, so maybe I’m expecting too much from the rest of the country.

  29. Blue says:

    Beyond leaving "no trace"…leave something better than you found it…is my motto. For example every time I camp I spend time picking up what others left behind, as well as my own trash (that said we grow our own and dehydrate our own food and pack into small containers so our trash is minimal to begin with). Also just because someone was at Woodstock doesn't mean they are a true hippie…how many of them grew up and out of that scene and into the yuppie generation that has over consumed thus creating more waste?!!! To me the term "hippie" encompasses a way of life…some live it and some don't. If you live it it takes ongoing consciousness to all thing that matter like the environment, how you treat people, how you treat animals and the environment, how you treat yourself. For me it also means homesteading and providing for myself and my family. Its also about thinking for yourself, and outside the box, and questioning the status quo. It's not about what music festivals you attend or not. That is just a side stage of one's life who may or may not be a "true hippie."

  30. boom says:

    I believe that the actions of the music festival culture, such as excessive waste and blindness to reality, are rooted in a bed of self-righteousness and ignorance. Music festivals have changed drastically since the first one I attended since age 14. There has been a steady progression away from deep conversation, creative solutions and exploratory sociality, towards a huge flock of barely-coherent inebriated, egotistical peacocks. IMHO, this is resultant of a focus on FASHION and STATUS, which veils problems and creates a focus on SEX, not CHANGE or PROGRESSION. It pains me to say it, but I have grown to DESPISE the burning man-esque 'mad max,' fuzzy leg warmers with sexy lace and re-factored stuffed animal-hat style. It hurts, because I helped develop that style when it wasn't cool [at all] and was just 'fun,' because we took trash and turned it into things people had never seen before. We weren't elitests either, unlike the new blood in the scene, we were friendly and drew no line between us and everyone else. We tended to seek out people who were the most timid, shy and reserved, in the attempt to help them express themselves, and it often worked! Clothes were only a way to challenge perception. We did it to open everyone's eyes to that possibilities of clothing, in the hopes people would evolve it, make something of their own and stop purchasing overpriced crap from China. Alas, it didn't quite work out like that, and instead, we've got a 10 mile long elephant-walk of misguided late-teens taking turns humping each other, that get 90% of their supplies for THE BURN from Walmart [Ruthless Chinese Investors <3 Burning Man] … The new generation, in all their narcissistic, self-righteous glory, are just piggy-backing on our antiquated style, to enhance their desires of promiscuous sex with strangers and further rationalize their selfishness through 'free love' and 'self expression.' Inadvertently, and blindly perpetuating the ignorance of the consumer culture. It doesn't worry me too much though, being lemmings, I have no doubt they will just follow each other off a cliff. Never again will I attempt to help society … this quote comes to mind: "Don't ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you feel alive, because what the world needs is people who feel ALIVE." In the end, I believe a small sectarian pod of this 'movement' will branch of and make Music Festivals a thing of the past. They will rise up, and create real gatherings: Gatherings based solely on art installations and live music (like BM used to be before EDM took over the world), trading skills/workshops and traveling education … one can dream.

  31. Sojourner says:

    This article is so full of judgement that it will never reach or touch any young person who might need to learn something about responsibility. Hating on hippies is probably not going to bring about the change you’re looking for. I’d rather litter than talk about people the way you do. Sorry.

  32. jason says:…. thats a link to a document the dead released in 88. personally its not just the people that could do more. the venues half the time are understaffed dont have volunteers and its hard to keep the stage area clean with trash cans five feat in front of you towering in trash and spreads to the ground and moved kicked or just becomes the leaf pile of trash.. and some of the festivals there are people that are doing to much with no one to set them right its everyones fault and the bigger the festival and the more bands that are there its like to get these people that just dont care. used to bring glass and dogs to festivals and people ruined it for everyone… i agree that if we dont take care of our parks and parking lots, and cities they wont be as clean as we found them that is a shame yet everyone could do more.

  33. alecperkey says:

    The metaphor about the dentist isn't very good because you don't pay a dentist to regularly brush your teeth while you do pay the venue to regularly clean up afterword.

    What is probably worse for the environment is people working for environmentally-destructive corporations (so many of the hippie kids work in fast food or industry) to fund their ticket purchases.

    Or think about all the gas to drive around to these festivals…

    Also, love to see there is a module to tip your writer. Very cool. Nice user experience on this website.

  34. wildness says:

    I went to Wilmers Park in the early 90's and Trip was the first person I hugged. He had a wagon with Tweety Bird in it. He had a sign around his neck saying" I will give you Hugs for your trash". I hugged him 9 times that day and he inspired me to continue this tradition for the rest of my shows!… R.I.P. I love you Trip–Peace and KEEP IT Clean!!!! Thank you!

  35. Zebbler says:

    I absolutely love you for pointing out the need to keep our festivals clean.

    BUT please correct yourself on saying that Woodstock was something to be inspired by on that level. Woodstock was absolutely horribly trashed by the time everyone was done with it – those kids needed the same lesson badly.

    I have to commend festivals like Burning Man, Electric Forest and Lightning in a Bottle for doing a good job educating their attendees in our current environment.

  36. @CSeistrup says:

    As a rock climber and mountain biker, I always exercise these principals. Enough garbage, and there's no more fun. We have to have respect for what we are allowed to do on others property, and especially public lands!

  37. Fakon says:

    "I saw and learned how this works at Burning Man, where the amount of littering is close to zero. All of the participants work together to keep their environment trash-free and take all of their trash with them when they leave."

    Oh man, oh man. You need to stick around a a day or two after Exodus then, because then you would see how much trash is left behind. Heck last year alone I saw a pile of trash bags next to the porta-potties at 6 and E, that had to have had more trash then in your first picture.

    Between myself and my companion we had two and half bags of trash for almost three weeks at TTITD, but ended up bringing back home with us six bags of trash. Because we kept finding shit rolling around on the playa, or spotted a loner trash bag that needed friends.

    I'm not even going to bring up the infrastructure, and couches people leave behind every year.

    On a side note, you might want to list festivals that everyone will know about. Because I've never heard of any of those.

  38. Amy says:

    Someone once passed on these words to me, "If there's trash around, there're fake people around" Simply put, clean up after yourselves. Don't preach green and sustainability, if you aren't prepared to do it yourself. I also want to mention that there are other events, oh for example most recently city parades and fireworks where thousands of people go, and leave trash everywhere! It seems to happen most frequently when we are in crowds, so set the example at any large scale event. WE ALL NEED TO TAKE CARE OF THE PLANET. The hippies can't do it alone, and shouldn't have to.

  39. druid ozone says:

    whats the difference between a hippie girl and a cigarette? a cigarette won't make it all the way around the circle. ha ha. seriously though, there are hippies that come from various places. the ones that are hippies from politics are my favorite, but even the ones that come at it from poverty are ok, although they might be a lot more inclined to litter. the main thing i am going to say to you is this, and although not many will realize it, it is very important: there is a reason that young people have pictures of jerry garcia and bob marley on their walls and it is COSMIC MANIFEST DESTINY. In a nutshell, the ancient egyptians were very well aware that the spirituality of their western civilization was symbolized in the stars (on earth as it is in the heavens- lords prayer written in hieroglyphics) thats why their pharoahs, incarnations of god on earth had AMEN in their name, like tutankhamen, amenhotep, etc… I don't know how they knew this. Amen was the rams headed god, during the age of aries the ram. PRECESSION of the equinoxes is a scientific reality- every 2000 years or so its a new age- like the last 2000 years was the age of pisces virgo (there are 2 equinoxes per year, so half the story has never been told) and who could deny that the iconography of western civilization has been totally dominated for the last 2000 years by images of jesus and mary, the fish and the virgin. so now its the age of aquarius leo and this means PSYCHEDELIC REGGAE. jerry garcia was born leo and bob marley aquarius. who will you find on the front lines of the earth first movement- gods children the dread hippies. i could go on and on about this, but it doesn't really matter, anyway, if you get it or not.

  40. thediscoincident says:

    I agree. However your tone makes it obvious that you don't not understand the mindset of the people who go to festivals. I don't liter and I go to my fair share and let me repeat that I agree, however, rather than speaking to the people that are causing the problems and trying to get them not to, you wrote it in way that would make someone want to tell you to go fuck yourself and liter in front of you just be an asshole.

  41. Blues Bob says:

    Funny, and too often true. I spend every other Sunday at my university sweeping up cigarette butts. I don’t have to, I just do it as a service to my school. Many of those cigarette butts are thrown on the ground within mere feet of an ashtray. It’s disgusting. Oh, and you spelled “pepperoni” wrong.

  42. Lasculpteure says:

    “Binsey Poplars” (1879)

    Gerard Manley Hopkins

    My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,
    Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun,
    All felled, felled, are all felled;
    Of a fresh and following folded rank
    Not spared, not one
    That dandled a sandalled
    Shadow that swam or sank
    On meadow and river and wind-wandering weed-winding bank.

    O if we but knew what we do
    When we delve or hew—
    Hack and rack the growing green!
    Since country is so tender
    To touch, her being so slender,
    That, like this sleek and seeing ball
    But a prick will make no eye at all,
    Where we, even where we mean
    To mend her we end her,
    When we hew or delve:
    After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.
    Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve
    Strokes of havoc unselve
    The sweet especial scene,
    Rural scene, a rural scene,
    Sweet especial rural scene.

  43. Drew says:

    Yea Ive never seen a rave kid make a complete mess of something (besides themselves). This article had potential to actually help the scene but instead it sounded like a poor excuse to blame a certain genre of people who attend festivals. The only thing that was remotely informative about this article is common knowledge that we should not litter and people should pick up after themselves. Thank You for regurgitating literature that was provided for us 50 years ago.

  44. SUB_skrybe says:

    lol..why would they go right to the hippie looking kids?..ive been going to festivals since i was 13 and im now 24.It is the stupid Bro/Frat mentality killing the vibes. i love and create future-bass music myself but i do not promote the stupid bro mindset.we need positiveness and consciousness in our Bass music. I wish i saw more 18 year olds in dead shirts..maybe a bass your face stealie 😉 ..wake up people its not the hippies trashing your place no matter what age they are.

  45. Amanda says:

    I'm not a smoker but what is the proper way to dispose of a cigarette butt? Would you save it an throw it in the garbage as opposed to throwing it on the ground (obviously I realize throwing it on the ground is the wrong thing to do)? While I can see that the butt ending up in a landfill is probably better than in a park, isn't the accumulation of non-biodegradable plastic still a problem in a landfill? I'd suppose the only "hippie" solution would be to roll your own cigarettes, correct?

  46. Mister Khampa says:

    As I recall, there was a tremendous amount of trash left behind at the Woodstock Festival in '69 or '70 or whenever the hell it was and I didn't have a very good time — maybe some good-hearted hippies stayed behind and cleaned it up. And, oh yeah — most of the people there were kids from the suburbs, not hippies. I had a lot more fun earlier that same summer at the Newport Jazz(sort of) Festival and later at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, which was still a manageable size. Actually I detest large outdoor music festivals. Who wants to go out to the country so you can stand in line for 45 minutes at porto potty or to buy a crappy sandwich for some exorbitant price. Get a few friends and some tents and head out to the woods or a national park.

  47. Laura says:

    Hippies were the original slackers

  48. Sean says:

    The hippie generation was just as fake. We in the younger generation are suffering the effects of their cultural substance dependance. Hippies took credit for cultural change which they deserve no credit for or simply didnt do much to effect. Now the real change is underway. We will actually do the work necessary.

  49. conway says:

    google woodstock aftermath trash images. don’t be so naive to believe that the hippies of the past were any cleaner than those of today.

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