Each year as the weather starts warming up and the last bit of winter chill disappears, festivals begin to heat up as well. People from all over the world flock to festivals to dance, practice yoga, connect with others, and adventure with their wolf pack. In fact, according to Nielsen Music, over 32 million people in the U.S. attend at least one festival per year. That is an extremely large number of people that unfortunately leave behind large numbers of waste.
Of course with festival season on the rise we spoke with the owner of MOOPsquad and festival queen herself, Sylvie Hitchcock and you don’t want to miss what she had to say:
What motivated you to create the MOOPsquad?
It was a combination of two experiences I had in 2002. One was my first introduction to the burning man festival and the second was my first trip to Costa Rica. In Costa Rica they were carelessly throwing bags filled with trash out the bus windows and during burning man I was gifted something that changed my mission forever; a MOOPwand. A MOOPwand is a metal garbage device that allows you to easily reach out and grab litter off the ground. This MOOPwand changed everything and it became my purpose to collect trash that harms our environment. The mission grew from there and truly shaped the MOOPsquad project.
What is the most common piece of MOOP that your squad collects at festivals?
I would say the number one piece of MOOP would be cigarette butts and that's actually across the whole board. We have done street clean ups, festivals and traveled across the world with the squad, and the item we find most is always the same; cigarette butts. Different locations always seem to have different MOOP but the one similarity has always been cigarette litter. It is a habit and people do not equate this with harming our environment. Breaking habits is difficult but not impossible we just have to work at it.
What is the one eco-friendly accomplishment that MOOP has made that you are most proud of and why?
MOOPsquad’s number one accomplishment has to do with the social aspect of the group itself. Having women come together for different projects and taking action to protect our environment is something to be proud of. All the years of this project and collaborations that have come out of it is a beautiful thing. It is a ripple effect that is about supporting other women and their passions/projects in whatever forms that may be.
How do you encourage others at festivals to keep the environment around them clean?
We really like to use humor as our main message. True to that, we have games and performances around the concept of MOOP, but humor is key. Without humor, people will feel like you are telling them what to do and to be honest people do not like to be told what to do. I would say that the MOOPwand and humor are the two main keys to encouragement within the project.
I see on your website that you encourage people to create DIY crafts from MOOP that they collect during their festival experiences. What is one DIY craft that someone can create in order to help the environment?
Something that we introduced into the MOOP project is the badge of honor pins or magnets made out of bottles caps. It is an easy way to share your appreciation for another person by giving them this badge. It is a miniature art piece that is unique to the MOOP you find. You never know what you're going to collect; we integrate things back into our costumes, badges, and campsite all the time.
How often do you find plastic waste at festivals and does the MOOP squad recycle?
Absolutely, recycling is our number one goal. We find what looks like oceans of plastic MOOP at festivals such as Coachella. Especially places that sell bottled beverages, it is inevitable that they will find there way to the ground. One way to help with this is to turn a water bottle into an ashtray or reusable cup by cutting it in half.
Knowing how much plastic waste is littered during festivals, how does it make you feel to hear that companies like Wolven Threads are producing eco-friendly clothing made from recycled plastic bottles?
It is a huge relief. So often we can be overwhelmed with large problems and think we are powerless. Almost paralyzed like our actions don't matter. Then when I meet companies like Wolven Threads it is inspiring. Creating a better world for everyone to live in. They always say be the change that you want to see in the world, well, companies like Wolven Threads and MOOPsquad, we are the change.
I see the MOOPsquad loves to make festivals fun and interactive in order to better educate people of their environmental impact on this earth. How would you describe one of your festival games called “Nailing it”?
We take the fourth fingernail and paint it bright orange. This is our sign of solidarity between participants that creates a MOOPteam. It is also a reminder to not intentionally drop something and gives you authority to spread the word about MOOP. It reminds you not to put your purse down or leave sunglasses behind and to keep personal objects with you wherever you go. Also, it is a lot easier to flick someone off and make them laugh instead of the middle finger and get a slap in the face. It has become a very powerful message for our squad. During festivals people always come up to us to get “nailed”. MOOPsqaud would not be able to function without the amazing support we get from communities of people. That is what makes our games like “Nailing It” so fun.
Hearing what Sylvie had to say about how much plastic waste and garbage her team finds at festivals, Wovlen Threads decided to dig a little deeper about how our wolf pack can make a positive environmental difference this upcoming festival season.
People are constantly leaving behind camp chairs, rubber boots, trash bags, sleeping bags, water bottles, and food containers that go straight into our landfills and oceans. This festival season however, Wolven Threads encourages you to leave nothing behind and brings you 10 simple ways to keep your next festival clean.