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. Nicholas says:

    You shouldn't idolize the woodstock crowd, they left more than their fair share of trash behind.

  2. Paul g says:

    I find it funny that you claim the “hippies” created all this. Really? Let me clue you into something. Kids go to these things to listen to music, not create change. Unfortunately the hippie generation is in charge of our country and are not doing a damn thing!! They made their money in the 80s and 90s and got theirs. I’m sorry, but I have no respect for the hippie generation!!! Where are all these amazing hippies. I mean there are some that have done great things, but the majority changed!! Remember the haight ashbury scene was a drugged out dirty place to be in the day. So I guess that was ok then, but not now? Woman, get a clue and stop blaming this generation for the problems your generation has caused!!!

  3. GUEST says:

    You do realize that the hippies at Woodstock littered, too. Right? Like for real for real. Maybe you should go look up some pics from Woodstock and see for yourself.

  4. sarah says:

    Love it

  5. deepol says:

    LOL, while I don't disagree people should take care of their shit, this article is dumb saying modern festival-goers litter, while the Woodstock generation didn't'. Have you ever seen a documentary on Woodstock?…look at the aftermath. The place was TRASHED.
    Here is a photo of it.

    The fact is every festival gets cleaned up afterwards by people getting paid to do so…thus the trash creates jobs paid for by the ticket price. The concert promoters get fined big money for their ecological impact afterwards, including torn up grass, garbage, and damage to plant life. Burning Man is only different since the whole theme is based around the "No Trace" idea for people do to it themselves..when in reality, every festival is No Trace, its just getting cleaned up by somebody paid to do so (Not to mention its in the middle of the desert and they don't have the same waste management capabilities). If people at other festivals were under the impression that anything left behind would not eventually get cleaned up, I'm sure they'd be more respectful and do it themselves for the most part.

    Please do your research before making false claims.

  6. Guest says:

    I have personally seen the author of this article throw hundreds of cigarette butts on the floor, stop being hypocritical, this article is trash.

  7. This is never going to happen. Take a look at most the ppl who go to parties. There is no responsibility. Most these ppl when you go to there houses, there is Dishes piling up all over the sink, dirty plates with food sitting on there tables and floors, clothese scattered everywhere. Its disgusting. Thing is, very few ppl actually grow up and can party and carry on there responsibilities at the same time (like cleaning up after themselves.) A majority of the ppl are never going to do it because thats just how the young generations are. Destructive, disrespectful, and careless.

  8. joosh koosh says:

    i have dreadlocks and have a grateful dead tshirt, i refilled all my water bottles and threw my cigs into the trash, i never threw anything except for my body while i was dancing….this is a very bias article, i don't say hey fat ass you need to stop eating because i don't like the landfill all your food scraps take up. your really mean actually

  9. Buzymom says:

    Look at photos of the aftermath of Woodstock. TONS of trash covering the ground. It took days and $100,000 to clean up all the garbage.

  10. HippieJohn says:

    Yes but how much energy do the burners waste to drive cars packed with heavy unneeded art installments as well as food and water out to the middle of nowhere? Hint: A LOT!

  11. Realist says:

    Get out of here with the young people bullshit………My whole row of campers actually stayed and cleaned up on the last day unlike the lazy old people who left and just dropped all their beer cans on the ground. Yes some of us do appreciate music from the 60s, but maybe for the simple fact that that music helped inspire the jam bands of today to become who they are. I guarantee you are generation has way more respect for this earth than a lot of the old school hippies at most of these festivals. In fact some of the rudest people, that almost had me in fights were in their 50's. So what if our generation enjoys some electronic music. Change is part of the future. Maybe had we been set a better example we would not have been so messy at music festivals.

  12. SherwoodForestLove says:

    You must have been on a whole lot of acid at Electric Forest, because it looked pretty damn clean to me. I go to the river all th time, and have never seen it that clean at the river. You just sound like a negative nancy. Nothing in life is perfect. I thought it was a beautiful venue and most people gave the place respect. Hear let me give you some advice from a young person…Stay positive in life and instead of putting blame on others think of ways you can change yourself first. We would love to see you volunteer next year at any of the major festivals.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Why are you profiling 18 year olds? I've seen older people with dreadlocks and Dead shirts be a lot more nasty to the Earth than the 18 year olds I know. Age doesn't necessarily define eco-doucheness in my opinion.

  14. rusty says:

    Not trying to trash this article, but if you went to woddstock you would know that the place was littered with trash, everywhere… today we are lucky to have good people throw out their trash, and not so good people who get trashed, literally, and then drunkenly discard their litter on the ground. But the scene today has adapted to this aspect of throwing a large 20,000 festival, and have clean up crews that leave the place cleaner than when the fetsival began. So don;t try to act like this generation is any worse than the last, because trust me.. woodstock was filthy, and I doubt the place had a crew to clean things up like festivals do today. I hate people tossing trash as much as the next person, I'm even responsible enough to knock the cherry out of my cig and put the butt in my pocket for throwing out later when I clean out my pockets. Change takes time, but I believe alot of festival goers try their best to clean things up. I have even witnessed at the end of bonnaroo, one of the most bro'ed out festivals nowadays, and masses of people were picking up trash as they left the main stage area. So please don't try to act like the wannabe hippie kid is some scar on the scene. Its kids like that who grow and help expand the scene as they learn what being a true "hippy" is all about. Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect.

  15. SonOfHippies says:

    As the child of hippies, I think your idealizing the hippie movements. I refer you to the book, "Electric Koolaid Acid Test." As one other response says, the hippies were some of the worst eco-criminals. In my mind, the crime of knowing what's right and letting it go for money is a far greater crime than being ignorant in the first place. I always tell my parents that we're confronting so many of the issues they grappled with because they were so easily placated and were afraid to own the hippie identity.

  16. rehguod says:

    Ummm, hate to rain on everyone’s parade but it’s just not the hippies. It’s. NFL, NBA, NASCAR, MLB, soccer, basically anywhere a large amount of people gather and over indulge! We are disgusting creatures and we are, wait will, ruin this planet. Sorry but that’s the hard truth!

  17. Sean says:

    She is a fifth generation Colorado native who believes dance has the potential to liberate human consciousness from its cultural prison. Probably lives in Boulde, taboot.

    This explains so much.

  18. Guest says:

    KYS OP

    Remember the disaster that Woodstock was after it was over? Remember the peace symbol of Trash? On a lighter note, this would have not happened at a Hannah's Field concert. in all reality it SLYGSAASISOI

  19. TarBones says:

    The grounds at Bethel were absolutely trashed after WoodStock. Also I think you are misplaced in your assumption that the kids you describe want to be hippies. 18 year old’s just want to be. Instead of trashing the patrons that litter, lets glorify and lift up the clean up crews, clean vibes, and all the effort that goes into the large scale cleanup that these festivals ultimately require no matter what. You reference Burning Man… that is not nearly the same type of place nor is it populated by the same type of people. If I am surrounded by eco-freaks i’ll usually do a better job of picking stuff up just because I see that others care more than I do. I don’t really care about this stuff, but if I was at Burning Man you would never know that.

  20. Michelle says:

    Woodstock was a disaster and those folks grew up to be the mostly unapologetic consumerist that you probably loathe today. A simple google search will show you what a disgusting mound of trash the "real" hippies left. Being a hippie has NOTHING to do with music.

  21. jafaramiratiyeh says:

    In theory, i favor progressing to music festivals, however the trash everywhere is what makes an otherwise enjoyable expertise unpleasant. Dancing on discarded water bottles and plastic cups isn't fun. I appreciate your article Cassandra, as a result of it's extremely not that tough to throw your trash away or place it in your backpack to lose later. i have been to Burning Man, too, which is proof that tens of thousands of individuals will throw a large party and not trash the land.(كازينوأونلاين)

  22. Gcabnyc says:

    Historical accounts indicate that Woodstock(60s) was absolutely trashed after the festival. Look it up.

  23. Pockets says:

    I go to these festivals and I have often worked the crew cleaning up after them. The festivals make sure to restore them to the same standard they were in before the festival got there. No one claims to be recreating Woodstock, and though I agree a lot of people are hypocrtical about saving the environment, that is nothing new. The original Woodstock festival left Woodstock, NY in a horrific condition just like any festival does, but just like any other festival, they cleaned up after. These festivals are about having fun, do you really have such an enormous bug up your ass that you want to try to dismiss them as terrible for retarded reasons? Get off your own high fucking horse and volunteer to clean up after the festivals like I do. Then maybe you'd have some clout to complain.

  24. Mike says:

    I agree with your article, however i think part of the problem is due to laziness and the lack of trash cans at these festivals. I worked at a festival in my city where trash in previous years were a problem. This year however they had a visible trash can within every 15 feet, and it was regularly emptied. When the festival was over the ground to my surprise was relatively clean. So when I read 50 ft, I thought that was kind of ridiculous.

  25. Trisha says:

    If you googles Woodstock after math pictures from 1969 you will see a big mess. Trash all over the place. They didn't pick up! It isn't just these kids now. It always has been, It always will be a problem.

  26. chad says:

    Hell is other people.

  27. nettles says:

    It's cool when people get all fired up! I appreciate your accolades to burning man! I hope to get there sometime soon!

  28. Mark Gresham says:

    "If you remember Woodstock 1969, you weren't there" but in this case Cassandra Smith is definitely smoking something. The idea that Woodstock was not trashy is entirely mythology. In fact it was quite the opposite. As one example, here is a photo of the aftermath from a HubPages article… and I cite this excerpt:

    "His farm covered in trash, obliterated by a half a million young people partying their asses off, Max Yasgur denied a one year revival of the Woodstock festival in 1970. He stated that as far as he was concerned, he was going back to being dairy farmer."

    Burning Man, by contrast, is explicit about leaving the desert in the same condition afterward as before.

  29. Mark Gresham says:

    P.S.: While I didn't go to Woodstock, I am old enough to remember the news reports about the incredible trashing of the farm. So to Cassandra Smith: get your history straight. A lot of the "hippies" of that era have long since traded protest for condos, though indeed most of the retro-fauxhemians of today who think they are emulating "hippies" are emulating what might as well be a Disney cartoon of them.

  30. Thomas Fitzhugh says:

    Im going to have to agree! And the majority of people who disagree are probably angry because they are these kids or angry internet patrons trying to make someone angry! Truth is!! Theres always going to be somebody who litters and acts like a kid but… IDK I think a majority of eco friendly people are not necessarily hippies! I just think that is good nature and respectful! However! The ignorance and arrogance people portray in the MEssage Board is ridiculous! I think her point is a little direct and maybe rude but it doesnt mean she’s wrong!!! Im no hippy but I think we all deserve to respect eachother and our futures, so well done Cassandra! Id say the aim was harsh but the message was true for the most part! Wakarusa was filled with a bunch of kids who didnt give a damn about anything! At least we can respect one another! Your 2 seconds of time saves one person 1 hour of their time cleaning up after everyone :)

  31. dheisler says:

    Pack it in, pack it out folks, c'mon!

  32. I definitely agree with the main idea of "leave no trace" and "don't let it hit the ground." I am appalled by how many people of all ages I see throwing cigarette butts on the ground and out of their car windows, even during a Texas summer drought when the entire state is basically kindling for wild fires. I work with a 40-something adult who throws her chewed gum into the beautifully landscaped gardens. I can't believe how many tallboy cans litter the sides of the road where I live. I have been teased more than once for carting recyclables and compostables home from work with me. I may not be able to make a big difference but at least I can feel good personally about leaving a smaller trace behind.

  33. inallhonesty says:

    Before you single out people take a look around.

  34. nicholas says:

    this is true however, the woodstock generation can blow me, they fucked up that field worse than any of these festival sites have been damaged.

  35. chinacat says:

    lets just leave Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead out of this…..

    For what its worth, the most conscious people I know are my deadhead friends, and I've got quite a few of them.

    But really Its not at all about hippie or deadhead or frat kid or dubstep (I just had to look that up as I didn't even know).

    Its about setting a good example, free of judgment.

    I'm significantly younger than many of my friends who I attend shows and festivals with. My consciousness developed over the years by learning from them. We need to "school" the kids in a positive way through example and kindness (not that I'm making any assumption that all the garbage is left behind by kids)…. being judgmental and chastising will not get us anywhere.

    As Jerry sang to us:

    "This world is not our home
    We are only passing through
    Our trail is all made up
    Way beyond the blue
    Let us do the very best that we can
    While we're travelin' through this land
    We can all be together
    Shaking a hand
    When we make it to the promised land"

  36. Brian says:

    maybe you should have actually said something to them instead of waiting to get home and writing your sweet blog!

  37. Guest says:

    Dear author,
    You missed Woodstock also, so maybe you too should put down the naive front like you are part of some idealist elite. Trash on the ground in managed parks is called job creation, and just because you won't do the work doesn't mean someone else wont want to earn money this way. Try not to let your bleeding heart get in the way of understanding other people's perspectives.

    Blue-collar concert-lover.

  38. Ciaralyn says:

    Does it really matter if “hippies or non-hippies” are doing this!? The whole point in the post is to take your shit and just throw it away in the proper place. It is not your room/house for you to just throw your nasty trash all over. Earth is everyone’s home and I think we should all be respectful to take care of your shit and pick up after yourself. Then people wonder why this earth is falling apart. Wake up people! And stop being so fucking lazy! Excuse my language by the way :)

    Let’s make a change!

    Peace, love <3 & harmony!

  39. notahippie says:

    it's a good message, but when you write things like this-
    "If we keep trashing the venues we love so much, they will lose their beauty. Then, where will our grandchildren party?"
    i may think you've done too much ecstasy and want your grandchildren to do the same.
    and like someone mentioned, i think the glowsticks are a far bigger issue than cigarettes, not to mention i've seen every kind of person littering the ground with cigarette butts (not just the younger crowd). generalizations and finger pointing get us nowhere.

  40. kabir hoop mystic says:

    the one place that is clean after is burning man .and you have the picture of the 2 woman from BM.i am not burner but i do know they leave no trace..i do have issue with people throwing their butts in the street …it goes right in to our ocean [here].

  41. ColonelForbin says:

    Well maybe more bands should follow the Phish fans example. Phish's charity division The Waterwheel Foundation has been running a Green Crew(fans that volunteer) that help clean up venues after the shows since the 90s. Of course not many bands fans actually care enough to do this. On top of that Phish has been leading the bands going green charge since they got back together in 2009. They run all their buses on biodiesel, use extensive waste reduction and recycling programs backstage(incuding sending foodscraps to local farms for composing and use for fertilization). That being said, phish shows do end up trashy, but its a lot better than a lot of other shows. Its all about the band setting an example for their fans to follow.

  42. Just Sayin says:

    The sad fact is that not one person on this thread sees themselves as part of that problem or acknowledges they might be…so it's essentially a null and void article.

    …or am I to believe that everyone here gets it and is part of the solution? *ahem*.

  43. Orange Aid says:

    Those faux teenage hippies! Damn it, we're the real hippies!

  44. Keetz says:

    The trails of trash is how you tell hippies were present!

  45. […] with our world. And through this process we are coming together as community: in Yoga classes, festivals, concerts, retreats, dharma talks, etc. We are rediscovering our basic nature together—in and […]

  46. Sofie says:

    Although I do support this article, I think it misses a key point in the ever-increasing NEED to be more eco-friendly. Yes, throwing our trash away makes the space we are in NOW to be more enjoyable for the moment, but we often forget that just because we throw trash away into a trash bag, it does not just magically dissapear. A lot of it ends up in the ocean and buried into the earth somewhere where it will decompose for thousands of years …

    Along with urging people to clean up their trash, we should really be encouraging less trash in the first place. Re-useable containers, re-useable water bottles, less packaging, etc.

    By polluting the earth in the way we are doing, we are not only disrespecting IT, but ourselves, the animals, our children, and our children's children. It's like giving them ALL the middle finger.

  47. […] Okay, okay I know. Many of you reading this may be thinking “Dear God, she’s one of those crazy, drugged-out hippie people.” Perhaps you’ve gotten jaded by the popularization of it all (yes, I too have noticed the recent surge of fanny pack-wearin’, picture-takin’, bucket list-completin’ tourists). Or it’s possible you see it as an irresponsible way to use time and resources (I get it; I also want to punch the faces of college-raver kids who leave their beer cans and glow necklaces in the port-o-potties). […]

  48. […] The Woodstock analogy has its limits: compared to the colossal New York Thruway standstill in 1969, the traffic will be smooth sailing, the accommodations will be decidedly less funky, ATMs and healthy food will be readily available and, this being the desert, there will be no mud…and no one will have to make an announcement to avoid the brown acid. […]

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