David Attenborough praises Glastonbury for going plastic-free

TV naturalist surprises festival crowd with speech hailing ditching of single-use plastics

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David Attenborough made a surprise appearance on the final day of Glastonbury festival, thanking the crowds for helping to reduce the use of plastic at the event.

The broadcaster and naturalist said his series Blue Planet 2, which detailed the effect of plastics on the ocean, had had an extraordinary effect.

“Now this great festival has gone plastic-free,” he said. “That is more than a million bottles of water have not been drunk by you in plastic. Thank you! Thank you!

“The ocean covers two-thirds of this planet of ours … the land only covers one third of the globe. There are seven great continents on which we human beings live. Each of them has its own marvellous creatures – birds and mammals, animals of all kinds. Each of them has its own glory, each of them has its own problems.”

A huge roar greeted the environmentalist and television presenter as he took to the stage in the afternoon to the sound of whale noises being played out on the speakers.

Attenborough on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury.
Attenborough on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury. Photograph: BBC

He told the audience the sea creature noises were from Blue Planet 2. “There was one sequence that everyone seems to remember, that showed what plastic has done to the creatures in the ocean. It has an extraordinary effect.”

Adrian Lake, a wine merchant from Henley, said Attenborough’s appearance had brought a tear to his eyes. “He’s such an iconic figure,” he said. “David Attenborough is the voice of the world’s creatures and we need to join him in being that voice also.”

“He’s just a legend,” said Ian Simmons, from near Bath. “It’s just amazing to see him and all the young people taking notice of him. The way Glastonbury has done the plastic-free thing has been amazing. When you look around you hardly see any plastic, which is what we have to do, obviously.”

Georgia Spence watched Attenborough’s speech with her friends Nicola Mitchinson and Dean Cousins, all in their 20s. “My friends weren’t going to come to the Pyramid stage, but when they heard Attenborough was speaking, they changed their minds,” she said. “He’s looking out for the people of the future,” added Cousins.

‘He’s relatable because he’s passionate’ … the audience at Glastonbury watching David Attenborough.
The audience at Glastonbury watching David Attenborough. Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

Clouds and cool winds brought a reprieve after the 30C heat of Saturday, when the festival had to put out a statement to reassure attendees the site was not going to run out of water. Showers were shut off in order to preserve water and long queues formed at taps. The festival said 27 people had called for assistance because of heat-related problems. “There is not a water shortage at this year’s Glastonbury. Our supply is running as normal,” a statement said. “As always in hot weather, demand for water has increased, so we have put in place the usual restrictions on staff and guest showers and the limited number of public showers.”

On stage, Saturday night’s headliners, the Killers, turned up the temperature with an impressive set that included appearances from Pet Shop Boys – who played Always on My Mind and duetted on Human – and Johnny Marr, who came on to the Pyramid stage to perform a version of the Smiths’ This Charming Man. The band – who first headlined the festival in 2004 – got a five-star review from the Guardian’s Alexis Petridis who said: “From the opening moment, every song arrives strafed with lasers or pyrotechnics or confetti cannons.” He said there was “something impressively relentless about their set: it never lags, there are no longueurs”.

Sunday’s lineup included Kylie Minogue in the “legends” slot, followed by Miley Cyrus making her Glastonbury debut.

Emily Eavis praised Friday night’s headliner, Stormzy, who played a well-received Pyramid stage set that including guest appearances from Chris Martin and fellow UK rapper Dave. “It was a huge moment for us, up there with the all-time greatest Glastonbury headline performances,” she said. “The atmosphere was incredible, but then it has been since the gates opened.” Stormzy performed in a stabproof vest adorned with a union jack, designed by the street artist Banksy and seen as a political statement on knife crime and police cuts in the UK.

Earlier on Saturday, Janet Jackson played an afternoon set that saw her race through her biggest hits, including What Have You Done for Me Lately? and Control, while the Chemical Brothers – who have now headlined at the festival five times – topped the Other stage with a maximalist production that climaxed with their 1997 hit Block Rockin’ Beats. Elsewhere hip-hop icons the Wu-Tang Clan closed the West Holts stage and Liam Gallagher played an early evening set on the Pyramid stage, running through Oasis classics including Rock’n’Roll Star and (What’s the Story) Morning Glory.

Eavis also commented on the festival’s plastic-free approach, which was introduced this year and meant that single-use plastics were not sold on site. “It’s incredible to think that there are 1m fewer plastic bottles for the planet to deal with because we’ve stopped selling them. I think people are really starting to understand how important it is to treat the land with respect, and to stop living a disposable lifestyle.”


Frances Perraudin and Lanre Bakare

The GuardianTramp

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