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Festivals & Waste

Fieldwork research

ABR Activation

Case Study

Client ABR Activatie

project period 10/2019

Method Ethnography, fieldwork research

Summarized We participated during a festival as waste pickers from ABR Activatie to observe and question people's behavior and to test stimulation methods.

How can you mobilize people to clean up their waste during a festival?

We all have experienced it. After people leave an event, there are still large amounts of plastic cups, beer bottles, packaging and other waste lying around. There are many trash bins placed on a festival, but somehow we don't use them (enough). Is that due to the trash bin or due to our behavior? You guessed it, it depends on our behavior. The good news is that behavior is changeable. When we understand it, we can create better stimulation methods. During an event in the center of Amsterdam, Anthroconsult conducted a fieldwork research to understand people's waste behaviors. The research was conducted on behalf of ABR Activatie (cleaning team) and the municipality of Amsterdam.


ABR Activatie encourages visitors to take responsibility for their waste. With the motto 'cleaning with a smile', dozens of waste pickers walked around the center of Amsterdam to encourage festival-goers to throw their waste in trash bins. With their cheerful mood and colorful clothes, the waste pickers blended into the festival atmosphere. We dressed up as waste pickers and joined them. We wanted to experience what kind of reactions we would receive from people, to observe colleagues and to interview both the waste pickers and the festival goers on this matter.


This fieldwork research allowed us to apply different anthropological methods in a live setting. Perhaps the most important method was participant observation (observing people's behavior while participating in the crowd). In addition, we conducted interviews, small talks, had colleagues complete surveys and we collected photos. With this information, we wrote a report in which we described the value and challenges of the "cleaning with a smile" method of ABR Activation. Next to that, we included suggestions, comments and remarks from the festival-goers. With these advices the municipality will be able to organize the next event even cleaner and will know which parties to involve. For ABR Activatie this report helped them to both improve internally and to convey their value to the municipality during these events. 



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