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. DJack says:

    I like the message. I went to Electric Forest this year, and keep walking around eating oranges, stashing the peels in my pockets for whenever I came upon the next compost can, and actually sorted all my trash into recycle, trash and compost, only to realize by the third day that every single one of the bins was filled with plastic bottles, recyclable cans, and just general trash, it really pissed me off! Made me feel like I was the only one actually trying…

  2. I totally agree. I am a teen but ever since I was little I cleaned up other's litter at such festivals. Nothing pisses me off more than people disrespecting the meaning of the "subculture" known as the "hippies". It doesn't seem right to take someone's ideas of music and fashion and climate as your own, then disrespect the deeper meanings and beliefs of the people. I still clean up other's trash when I see it, and hang back at festivals and concerts when I can to help clean up all the gross shit todays inconsiderate asses leave behind.

  3. deb says:

    um… it is nice they pick up the trash at burning man but the amount of waste and damage to the environment that festival causes is a thousand fold to that of Bonaroo! Everyone brings disposable everything.. eventually it has to be throw out somewhere, correct? So yes, it is nice BMers pick up the trash but please, that festival is not environmental at all. For pete’s sake they burn trash there, oops I mean the man..

  4. […] 7. Dear 18-year-old Kid with Dreadlocks & a Grateful Dead T-Shirt… […]

  5. Anthony says:

    Most burners from the east and abroad by all their crap from walmart and throw it away. (bikes, disposable plastic water jugs, tents, glitter, food wrappers).

    Burning man is so far from anything really sustainable. BM is just another reason to by a bunch of clothes you wear once.

    Burning man is better than a concert and yet millions of miles from anything sustainable and even farther from anything helpful to the environment.

    Did you know that the bolivian president just made a law saying that the earth has rights?

  6. Anthony says:

    Most burners from the east and abroad by all their crap from walmart and throw it away. (bikes, disposable plastic water jugs, tents, glitter, food wrappers).

    Burning man is so far from anything really sustainable. BM is just another reason to by a bunch of clothes you wear once.

    Burning man is better than a concert and yet millions of miles from anything sustainable and even farther from anything helpful to the environment.

    Did you know that the bolivian president just made a law saying that the earth has rights?

  7. Andi Chakow says:

    Check your history. Woodstock left behind mountains of trash and it was cleaned up by the owner of the property, it took a long time.

  8. Mia says:

    And stop bying crap!! then they wont have so much trash.

  9. ms_steen says:

    Just a note. . .there was A LOT of trash left at the actual first Woodstock by it's initial goers . .I'm all for practising environmental friendliness – but lets practice not stereotyping teens, or anyone for that matter too.

  10. peggy says:

    I'm not sure, but judging by the author's photo, she doesn't look old enough to be of the (original) Woodstock generation.

    The original Woodstock left the farm with more trash than imaginable…the styrofoam containers and thousands of water bottles didn't exist, but it was a huge mess….just watch the documentary….

    It's true that this generation jumpstart the eco revolution, but they were also 20-somethings that acted accordingly.

    I get the message of the article and agree with the sentiment. But writing as though one is authentic without knowing the truth firsthand, is no better than the current festival goers she chastises…

  11. daryl morazzini says:

    Someone has a VERY romanticised idea of what the 60's and the Hippie movement was about.
    Keep in mind that these "environmentalists" and "peace and love" Gods and Goddesses that this author thinks ran the Hippie movement, are the same generation who voted in Reagan, who fill our government ranks, who became lawyers, businessmen, and corporate rulership that now plague each step of the environmental movement. While the Hippie movement was an "ideal" that ideal masked a movement that was degenerate in drugs, self-abusive sexual practices, and gave birth to all the New Age "shanti shanti" bullshit that haunts and distorts authentic Eastern spiritual practices to this day. These "true Hippies" didn't raise peaceful children, they didn't reject corporate America, they didn't reject mass consumerism, they didn't become vegans (and if you're not a vegan, you have no room to talk about environmentalism), and they didn't stay with their protests and their signs and their rejection of conservative ideals long after they realized they had bills to pay for. It was the sell-out generation, the beaten generation, and when you blame the modern eco-Hippies for not being Hippie enough, well, you're wrong, they are EXACTLY like those original Hippies, ever-as-much fraud, sell out, hypocrite.

  12. Brad says:

    Not that I totally disagree with you…. but, I find it incredible funny how the people that think they are so mindful or spiritual are really the ones that are the biggest elitists and judgmental people out there.
    Travel to another country, maybe a third world one like Cuba, equador, peru, malaysia, thailand, india, etc etc etc. There is trash everywhere and people litter all the time.
    We are an island in our own egos and isolation here in the USA.

    I think there are much bigger global catastrophes that you could focus on trying to do something about beside some lost soul here in the privileged USA. In my book that is a lost cause anyway. There are people around the world that don't have the huge ego of being right or the extreme need to be seen that could actually benefit from your energy.

  13. NoHippie says:

    Definitely great to point out the hypocrisy of littering, but I definitely disagree that the "the Woodstock" generation was anything near ideal in regard to their treatment of the earth. In fact, one of the most iconic pictures of Woodstock — the couple hugging under a blanket after the festival concluded – shows TONS of trash on the Woodstock grounds after the festival was over. Also, the famous "Alice's Restaurant" movie from that generation features a scene where the main characters take a trip to intentionally dump all their trash into the woods. If anything, that scene illustrates that, although eco-consciousness began to bloom during that era, the cultural norms of that time were way behind anything that's deemed socially acceptable today. The writer is clearly trying to idealize a time in which she wasn't part.

  14. ian says:

    Burners trying to be environmentally elitist, while gleefully supporting bacon manufacturers and walmart and buying shitloads of gasoline and wasting thousands of dollars in lumber and other items for their festival. I love Burning Man and everything about it, but dont get on a high horse because you pick up cigarette butts and don't leave your PBR can on the ground. Burning man is still excessive and wasteful. over and out.

  15. berry says:

    How about changing part of the title about the “grateful dead” shirt to just simply tie dye shirt? Dont muddy wjth a.stereotype. thanks

  16. David says:

    The original hippies left Woodstock in shambles when they were done. Just check out the last few scenes in the Woodstock movie.

  17. sanjcamel says:

    woodstock was a filthy mess, and a financial disaster. maybe monterey festival would've been a better festival for a comparison to the ideologies you talk about.

  18. Digthose says:

    You should do a google image search for "Woodstock 69 aftermath".
    Then search "golden era syndrome".

  19. Judy says:

    I idealized hippies in my childhood, watching them on the news and realizing they were better than the narrow-minded adults of my community. Only a few of them lived the best values lifelong. If everyone who ever held a flower power sign in 69 had truly dedicated themselves to peace and love, our world would be a very different place. There have always been posers, but at least those who have posed in the past might be more inclined to tip in the direction of peace and love when put on the spot. Since they don't know themselves, maybe they will say "Oh, that's me…I support the environment…I'm cool like that." After what the most recent generations of Americans have done, and NOT done, I honestly don't feel that any of us has a leg to stand on in criticizing the youth. We've lived a party lifestyle and trashed the whole planet. Any child who can live consciously and with hope is heroic beyond words. I know a few of them, seen them with trash bags at festivals cleaning up after others, behind tables with petitions, biking home. I bow to them, seriously, and am sorry.

  20. Brooke says:

    Yes! Great article! Littering is one of the very few things that I hate. I have friends who will litter and say, "sorry, Brooke," even when I am not around… I tell them to just not do it, and to not apologize to me but to our Mother Earth!

  21. Peg says:

    Do you remember how much garbage was left over after Woodstock?

  22. iamkuriousoranj says:

    Which generation *first* spoke up, again?

  23. Indigo says:

    just because someone dresses a certain way ( i.e dreadlocks & grateful dead shirt) does not necessarily mean that they are a part of that subculture. You are just stereotyping people. Holding them up to some standards you have about how you think hippies ought to be seems pretty ridiculous. It's like complaining to a black person that they're not gangster enough.

  24. andyy says:

    Music festivals & burning man (a spinoff of The Rainbow Gathering are a very poor representation of hippies. Rainbow iis a totally FREE event in a different National forest every year on the 4th of July in concert with the Forest Service which usually raves about the hippies cooperative spirit. They have an all volunteer cleanup crew that remains for up to a week picking up every piece of microtrash after the all FREE several week long event that culminates with a group silent prayer for world peace on the 4th of July. All food is provided FREE to all of the tens of thousands who attend. There is no alchohol permirred in an attemt to uplift consciousness at this very intentional event. Food is mostly vegetarian or vegan & there is plenty. There are no bands booked as in the corporate world of music festivals & burning man…rather acoustic instruments & DRUMS for impromptu group music sessions which go nearly 24hrs a day along with many other fun& healing activities. Heavy trash like rain soaked tents that some may not have the strength to take out of forest via arduous uphiill hike are voluntarily removed in a cooperative effort by yes, the hippies. If you have not been to the National Rainbow Gathering you simply cannot speak on this subject.

  25. As a member of the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) we have had this policy in place for as long as I can remember. Once packed up and ready to head home after a weekend or week long camping event every encampment sweeps their 'lands' and picks up every single tract that a human being was there. We also recycle and haul out ALL campfire ash (no putting in trash dumpsters). I am proud that our organization has this policy in place and I have raised my children with the same respect for our lands.

  26. andyy says:

    Also at the Rainbow Gathering there are NO plastic water drinkers. Water purification is set up (via stream) after the water has been tested for pathogens as well. Rainbow has been going on since 1971 without problems. Check it out – My life would not be half as great w/o The Rainbow Family of Living Light. Woodstock…what most seem to see as the quintessential model for of what hippies do & are was just a music festival in the infancy of the hippies culture. We’ve come a long way. Many want to enjoy the increase in

  27. andyy says:

    …in civil rights fought for by hippies & partake in the healthfood movement we created while citicizing us. Get a clue. Hippies had the courage to stand up for freedom & peace. Dont denegrate their contributions to American society. <3

  28. andyy says:

    Totally AGREED Indigo! :)

  29. Noneofyerbiz says:

    Spot on except for going after one generation or age group. I am NOT that 18 year old. But let me tell you age at these events means nothing. I have seen all ages and all "crowds" of people toss garbage or worse at what is supposed to be a transformational festival. I have also seen all ages and crowds pick up after themselves. So please stop and think next time before you declare all people who were not "blessed" enough to be alive during the 60's as anti-eco. Many of these post boomer post hippe people are the ones coming up with all these amazing advances in science that are finally turning things around. But you want to lay the blame at the feet of everyone younger than you instead of at the feet of the generation famed for gas hogging muscle cars and the invention of throw away technology. Go ahead. If you also have an issue with the younger generation and their behavior ask yourself. Who are their parents?

  30. michael says:

    i just dont understand those people.. they can be five feet from a trashcan,and still throw their trash on the ground.. NOTHING infuriates me more, and have come close to blows when i ask,"what the fuck is wrong with you?"

  31. Joe says:

    obviously, you weren't AT woodstock. There was litter EVERYWHERE. Arlo Guthrie is probably one of the most iconic hippies ever, and his hit song included a story about taking all the trash from a thanksgiving celebration and dumping it in a ravine. Littering is ignorant, but do your homework.

  32. Sarah says:

    Not for nothing, but that article was kind of trash its self. The Woodstock generation is one of the most un-ecological generations to date, and certainly doesn't live up to the message that this article supposes they did. If the "Woodstock Generation" as a whole actually did as much as Cassandra Smith states, the world would be a hell of a lot more receptive to things like Solar Energy, Wind Harvesting, and Hybrid Cars. Global Warming wouldn't be a thing that half the country laughs at. Instead, this article felt like music elitism. "You're not as cool as me, because you're only a PRETEND HIPPIE." It's the ultimate form of hipsterism there can be, from a generation that makes the conscious choice NOT to recycle and NOT to take care of the environment.

    Of course, keeping the environment clean is super important, but chastising a community of kids isn't going to fix it. They need to learn it from their parents, and their parents have to practice what this article is supposedly preaching.

  33. Climatologist828 says:

    You're not going to change everyone. You can try to make a push for the majority of the crowds to keep clean after themselves. By snuffing out your cigarettes and putting them in your pocket or putting those empty beer cans in your backpack, the next person may see you and feel the need to clean up after themselves. Lead by example and people will follow. There's no need to be extremely nasty to people throwing shit on the ground because obviously they don't have the same connection to their planet and keeping it beautiful as you do, and also by being cruel towards people who aren't eco-friendly will just leave a bad taste in their mouths and may reinforce this behavior. A lot of the Furthur lots I've been on have been pretty well-kept, large festies not so much but small festies is where you see eco-friendliness shine. When I started going to small festivals growing up, a middle-aged woman walked up to me and politely approached me about throwing my cigarette butt on the ground. This courteousness has been with me since that day and I take it to every lot and place I go. Don't approach uneco-friendly people the wrong way people, spread kindness and courteousness. That's how we'll win this.

  34. Alex Gonzales says:

    Littering also started with the Woodstock generation. There was SO much litter at the end of Woodstock, and what did they do with it? They placed it in a pile the shape of a peace sign. I'm all about environmental protection and integrity but please get your facts straight. Peace

  35. LongtuckyRider says:

    we must attend different festivals. For the most part, the young, neo-hippies (and just young folks in general around here) are pretty eco-conscious, way more connected than my crowd when I was in high school in the early 80s. It's often douchy out of state adults I see behaving poorly at Colorado venues. SEE: Telluride Bluegrass, Rockygrass, many Red Rocks events, etc..

  36. dfhfjfjg says:

    Right, the Woodstock generation have been sooo good for the environment, whoever heard of baby-boomers polluting. Damn teenages, the state of the world today is totally their fault.

    Piss off you old wanker.

  37. SallyJuiceBox says:

    The Hippie Generation was NOT thefirst generation to concern themselves with the environment– we can look back to Roosevelt and his CCC for that!

  38. Travis says:

    A simple google image search of the original Woodstock would show you that the hippies there were anything but concerned about how they treated the Earth. I can't get a handle on what a hippy is. Apparently, a hippy is whatever a 30 year old tells a teenager it is, and it's been that way since the late 60's. Doesn't this cycle get old?

  39. Becca says:

    So, the article seems to hinge on the idea that Baby Boomers care more about the planet than teens today. That's the generation that's in congress now, right?

  40. Jr says:

    I mean, it’s just the fact this article starts off in the most judgmental way possible, “I am going to kick your ass” ” your not cool” “your not a hippie”. To me, despite the whole picking on trash issue, this article is negative and egocentric and follows none of the “hippie” ideals pointed out as pivotal learning points that promote progress, unity, compassion. And not to continue that negativity, I will say your right on point with the mentality on the neo-hippie, it all revolves around getting really high and forgetting to be civically engaged, there is no progress and fighting for a bigger cause in these new communities. So lets try this again, as you chastise them for doing the wrong thing, tell them what they should be doing in a positive way. I understand where your coming from in this article, I just urge you to try again and put you intent on trying to ouch them progressively forward to a new paradigm shift instead of pointing out the problems and not pushing the conversation further to provide a solution. Try it again, I think you are on the right track to finding the true message behind you article. =]. JR

  41. Phil says:

    Great message bad delivery. Self righteous in tone. Came across as a polarizing, pompous eco-Nazi. Massage your delivery and your point gets across to a much wider audience. Just sayin…

  42. Bookernoe says:

    I read a belly full of people all trying to stake the moral high ground on who, or who isn't cool. There is a universal message here. Clean up after yourself. If those wasting their time trying to make their position superior spent more of it picking up after themselves and showing others by example, we'd have a cleaner festival (and planet).

  43. muzza cuzza says:

    You speak truth – one point though, driving out of burning man towards Reno last year, the road was literally littered with walmart rubbish for miles… we burners cant really claim the moral high ground when we leave that sort of trace :(

  44. 1gadawg says:

    while i totally agree with the premise of the article, using Woodstock participants as being 'eco friendly hippies' is just wrong, ever see the movies of Woodstock? The kids of the 60s trashed it just as bad as today's youths do the venues of today! It was only a few that hung around to clean it up!!

  45. Eric House says:

    Hey I totally agree with your words, but I was at Woodstock '69. The scene when I was leaving….. Jimmy was playing the Star Spangled Banner… It was just getting light out on monday morning revealing the once pristine emerald green hillside now littered with acres of mud covered sleeping bags, blankets, and all manner of trash. About 2/3 of the people had left, or were leaving so you could clearly see the aftermath. It was horrible. It was gross! It was overwhelming the amount of trash. Makes the photo above look like a tiny drop in the ocean! Embarrassing… But I, like probably most of the other people had to leave then or miss my ride. Don't know the story of how it all got cleaned up, but I'm sure it did, by a small army of volunteer angels, and no doubt an endless stream of dump trucks for "daze"….. Looking back now I can see how young, idealistic and naive we were, but it's true what you say. Change was definitely in the air…. It was palpable…. It was intoxicating and infectious…. It was a powerful paradigm shift…. An ignition point blowing the lid off the claustrophobia of '50's and early '60's. It was real change…. Not the hollow rhetoric uttered by politicians to get elected. So yeah I totally agree with this article…. "Leave no trace." That's what we, the Woodstock generation were aiming for…. Just sayin we didn't always hit the mark, but we were giving it our best shot!

  46. Tess says:

    I agree with the sentiment entirely, been going to fests for years and Ive seen more than my fair share of "trash cyclones" (when the litter is so overabundant a breeze picks all of it up and spins into the air ala tornado, cyclones etc) and have been dismayed by the younger population's over-eagerness in creating a hippie persona for themselves, but let's be blunt, telling someone off, belittling them, or otherwise being condescending enough to tell them "you are not cool" or "you are not a true hippie" isn't going to change anything, it's just going to create more negativity and a defensive attitude in the population this article aims to change.

  47. Natalie says:

    Side note: I went to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival this past week and they actually had people stationed at huge trash/recycle/compost cans making sure people threw things away in the correct receptacles. Very cool.

  48. lisa says:

    don't they usually hire someone after a festival to clean the trash up?

  49. kathy says:

    I think this is good advice for the people going to these summer music festivals. It is good advice for all people enjoying our beautiful parks, camp grounds, beaches, etc. However, I wonder if this young woman has ever been to any of the music festivals she speaks about. Obviously not Woodstock….but any of the current ones? There are all ages of people there making a mess. It's not just 18 year olds. And clearly she is not familiar with the mess left behind at Woodstock!
    I don't know why she thinks the hippies of Woodstock were so much better. Did she not research any of this? I am from the hippie generation and not many that I knew gave a rats patoot about keeping our land beautiful and clean. That was NOT their concern. Peace, yes, protecting the beauty of the land? Not so much. Slobs come in all ages. The advice to not leave any footprints comes from campers and hikers who truly do care about keeping their environment clean. The message is good…she just needs to do a little more research,and improve her argument.

  50. RabbitNC says:

    No one i know is ever PAID to pick up trash! Whether im working at a gate for a ticket, or pay full price for my ticket, i pick up my own trash, & pick up everyone elses trash! When theres a large group of Kids sitting w/ trash all around them, i make a point to pick it up in front of them saying, Im an attendee, just like you. Be Classy, Not Trashy!!!

Leave a Reply