Students have their say: Dance to the beat but beat the litter

As preparations get under way for the next Isle of MTV Malta, Jay Agius from St Nicholas College Secondary School Dingli assesses the impact such a mass event is likely to have on the environment
Photo: Shuttestock.com

Over the past few years, mass music events in the Maltese islands have become a major point of interest in the lives of both locals and tourists.

About 60,000 people attend each of these events. This large number of attendees can have a devastatingly large impact on the environment around us. Unfortunately, not many people choose to acknowledge how truly damaging these mass music events can be.

I got a clearer image of the impacts of these events during an interview with Malta Tourism Authority’s artistic director Lionel Gerada, who is responsible for the organisation of Summerdaze and Isle of MTV.

The first and most important point that came across is that the reduction of the environmental impacts of such large events is not as straightforward as one may believe. Organising these events with environmental conservation in mind is a far more complex idea than it sounds.

Litter and traffic

When mass music events are held, litter and traffic are the two most pressing environmental issues that can be easily observed by the public. Mr Gerada acknowledged these concerns and said measures are being taken to reduce this problem as much as possible.

He said that Malta Tourism Authority works alongside Cleansing Malta in the hopes that the amount of waste produced at such events is minimised as much as possible.

New procedures and precautions are adopted each year when organising mass music events, he said. In previous years, these included bins to separate waste, reusable cups and washing stations, as well as cold fireworks.

“The reduction of the environmental impacts of such large events is not as straightforward as one may believe”

Mr Gerada explained that the average reveller purchases a drink every 30 minutes, potentially amounting to almost 900,000 cups or bottles of water being purchased and thrown out during a mass event. It can, therefore, be concluded that the use of reusable cups was a successful initiative because it avoided 900,000 one-time use cups or bottles from ending up in our landfills.

Mr Gerada also stated that in addition to this, Malta Tourism Authority works alongside Transport Malta to create traffic management plans when such events are held. These plans include additional bus routes from localities such as Sliema, Buġibba and other densely populated areas, to the venue where the event is to be held. These extra bus routes aid in the reduction of traffic on roads and in the reduction of pollution from cars and other vehicles. Along with these extra bus routes, open parking is provided, and a carpool campaign is launched in the hopes that attendees consider carpooling to and from the venue.

19 tonnes of waste were collected after the Isle of MTV Malta in 2019. Photo: Ramon Deguara

Sound pollution

Apart from litter and traffic, there are also much less obvious issues such as sound pollution. Mr Gerada explained that when one is organising and planning a mass music event, there is a set of precautions that should be kept in mind during the entire process of setting up audio, speakers and sound systems.

Sound pollution not only affects attendees but it also affects people who live in the surrounding areas of the venue. It may also have a large impact on those with sensitivity to noise, with neurological disorders such as autism, ADHD and SPD. It may also cause distress to infants and young children. as well as their guardians or other adults who have to attend work in early hours.

It was explained that to prevent these complications, precautions are taken like setting up speakers facing away from buildings. Although Malta is exempted from EU’s directive on noise pollution, Mr Gerada stressed that mass music events organised by MTA still respect the EU’s limit. The organisers, therefore, make sure that when setting up sound systems, the limit of 90Db in places at 100m from source is not exceeded.

A worrying statistic was published in the year 2021, offering a very brief insight into the damage rave-goers, city-hoppers and travelling musicians make to the world environment. It was shown that in 2019, 1,000 touring DJs took more than 51,000 flights around the world, adding up to an equivalent amount of CO2 produced by over 20,000 households in a single year.

This being said, the music industry is making plans to further help the environment and create less of an impact during events. A Greener Festival is one of the longest-running sustainable organisations in the industry and they are awarding the Green Festival Awards to festivals that apply and have a more sustainable environment. More and more festivals are applying.


When attending a mass music event, it is important to acknowledge the impact on the environment around us. Organisers of mass music events are constantly brainstorming ways in which they can further decrease such an impact.

If awareness isn’t increased and precautions aren’t taken, we will further destroy our environment to a point of no return and the generations that will come after us will not get to experience the beauty that is truly held in the world itself.

If we all put in effort as individuals and spread the necessary information, then we could help prevent the downfall of the world around us and possibly aid in the restoration of the environment.

This article, which has been slightly edited, was shortlisted for the Young Reporters of the Environment (YRE) competition, in the article category for 11- to 14-year-olds. Take a look at all the YRE winners here. For more environment-related articles, follow this link.

For more Child stories, click here.

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