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

Via elephant journal
on Jul 10, 2012
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***Warning: naughty language ahead.

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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.





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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.


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

  1. Jay says:

    Well by reading who ever wrote this is a person with problems themselves. Cassandra Smith. Sounds like a rich stuck up person.Its called a change and you may hold the same events but different people come in all the time. You should adapt to the new age and the people make quite a bit of money on these events maybe. if they paid their clean up staff good they'll have a clean place. It's common sense. Its doesn't matter. it happends at every kind of festival. Also when you have a bunch of people either on coke, acid, mushrooms or molly your not going to expect the normal things to happen. You allow people to party wich means people are gonna let loose. Its common sense. If you want to complain and youre sick of it then disapoint everyone by never having them again or with all the money pay youre staff extra. Other than that dont complain and talk smack. take action and make a change. Again You can't control everyone and not everyone is going to follow the rules.

  2. HumanBeing#623443476 says:

    While I agree with what you are saying, the bottom line is that there are shitty people and good people every where. I want to remind you tons of garbage was left behind at Woodstock as well. Do a quick Google search and you will see that Woodstock was a mess after the "hippies" left. ( ). People suck. The majority of people only take part in these subcultures for the drugs, sex, etc. Usually the ones that actually care stay behind to clean up the aftermath of whatever festival, and that is where you can find good people, real people, that actually give a fuck about our impact on this planet.

    So just remember that while there are a lot of shitty people out there, there are also a lot of good people out there. We just don't focus on the good, all we see is the bad.

  3. CDunlop says:

    I appreciate the sentiment, although, l agree with the other commenters that it's best to avoid romanticizing the hippies too much. But the more important thing is that while picking up after yourself at festivals is a good way to remain mindful of the environment and to make the experience better for everyone, it does next to nothing to *actually* address environmental problems. There are, as people have noted, cleanup crews. (From a human perspective, however…that's like trashing your hotel room because there's a housekeeper. You don't want to make their job any more difficult than it already is) Going to festivals–even fundraisers, even if you clean up after yourself *and* others–is not a substitute for activism/working towards institutional change. I'd love to say that you can do both, and certainly many people do, but there's a lot of privilege and political apathy at these festivals, particularly among younger folks. Though maybe that's me romanticizing too:)

  4. michael says:


  5. ted says:

    Have you not seen photos of the after math of Woodstock. Trash and garbage as far as the eye could see. You picked the wrong festival as an example.

  6. petey says:

    Lololol I dunno what you think happened at Woodstock but take a second and Google “day after Woodstock pictures” they left an ocean of trash behind

  7. petey says:

    "Omg my experience at burning man was like totally life changing! I'm so eco conscious and enlightened now, I'm totally gonna drive cross country to get there again next year."

  8. Erica says:

    I clicked on this because I was intrigued by the title including “Grateful Dead t-shirt.” Of course it didn’t take me long before I realized this article has nothing to do with the Grateful Dead & is just some chick’s stereotypical opinions about dirty hippies. Wearing a Grateful Dead t-shirt does not automatically make you a lazy slob. I’m sure I’m not the only Deadhead you offended.

  9. Danie Jane- environmentalist & festival lover says:

    These festivals are for enjoyment and fun, people go for different reasons… if the festival for you inspires change than awesome! but I can personally say I did not have never had an ecological realizations at any of the many festival I have attended. The companies who produce most of the big shows and festivals make money and put them on for people to enjoy themselves… not typically for social change and environmental justice (not all! but most…). Also, if we’re talking about environmentalism and festivals, consider how much energy it costs to keep those stages, light systems, and all other energy consuming technology running for however many days. Not to metion how far people travel to be there… I do completely agree people should be better about picking up trash EVERYWHERE, but I don’t think festivals are a place to start changing peoples evironmental habits.

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