Olivia Grant, aged 10 was excited to go to Reading Festival last weekend for the first time with her family but was shocked at how much litter was dropped by festival goers.
Olivia went with her Mum, Dad and brother William. Her Mum, Kirsty was working there with the University of Reading for the weekend, with a team of students who were backstage interviewing and photographing the bands and a family friend who works in the music industry got guest entrance tickets for Olivia, her Dad and brother.
Like many festivals these days people just drop rubbish wherever they are standing. Olivia saw that Greenpeace were offering 10p for every cup returned and thought she’d start collecting them for a bit of fun to earn some money. Her Mum said, “However, she soon started noticing just how many cups people were dropping and became totally focused on clearing up the litter for environmental reasons. One of the acts at the festival, Enter Shikari, referred to some climate research that the University of Reading have carried out, represented by an image of blue and red stripes that visualise climate warming from 1850-2018. It really struck a chord with her.”
Over the weekend, Olivia managed to collect 540 cups. Olivia said, “All of the cups were made from paper and I took them to a recycling point run by Greenpeace. They started to recognise me over the weekend and gave me a large bag to put all the cups in to make it easier. They really encouraged me to keep helping.”
“The response from festival goers was really lovely. People would see Olivia walking round with the cups stacked high in her hands and would come running over to her to give her their cups. We heard a few people referring to her as ‘the girl with the cups’ and lots of people gave her a high five and said thank you for what she was doing. One lady referred to her as her hero. Other children also saw what she was doing and joined in. In her own way, Olivia was getting the message out there to clear up your litter and she was really pleased that people were handing her the cups instead of dropping them,” added Kirsty.
Asked what she thinks about all the cups that were just dropped, Olivia replied, “I thought it was bad that people were just dropping their cups instead of putting them in the bin. It’s going to affect the environment. I think that what Greenpeace were doing was really good as they were encouraging people to pick up their cups and I think there would probably have been a lot more rubbish if they hadn’t done this. Next year, it would be good if the organisers could put more bins out for people to put their cups in, especially near the main stage area. On the big screens, they showed a film of Greta Thunberg and this was making people cry as her message is so important, but they still dropped their cups on the ground. We just need people to start making a difference and picking up their litter instead of dropping it.”
This isn’t the first time Olivia has been litter picking as she sometimes does it at school and with 1st Henley Brownies. She also recently wrote a letter to the CEO of Tesco asking them to replace their plastic straws with paper ones. They wrote back within a few days thanking her for taking the time to write to them and telling her they would pass on all her ideas. As Head Girl this year at Sacred Heart School Olivia is keen to inspire other children to pick up litter when they see it. Hopefully she’ll inspire some adults too!
Olivia had a fantastic time too watching her favourite singers which were Billie Eilish, closely followed by global female superstar Charlie XCX who she was so excited when she bumped into Charlie later on walking through the crowds and was delighted when she stopped for a photo with her.