Green music festivals throw parties with a purpose

What’s the environmental footprint of the average music festival? Add up the following factors:

  • Transportation energy: all of those fans, bands and vendors have to get there.
  • On-site energy: from stage lights to refrigeration, many elements of a festival require electricity… sometimes a lot of it.
  • Trash: just feeding hundreds, or thousands, of people can send literally tons of waste to the landfill
  • Water: Lots of people generally means lots of toilets flushing… and hands being washed… and thirsts being quenched.

OK, we don’t have exact numbers, but you can see that 2-4 days of music and fun can create quite an impact. A number of festivals around the world have decided to address that impact; others have built their events around ecological awareness. In both cases, organizers are addressing resource use and efficiency, and trying lighten the load of these events on the planet.

If you’re a festival fan with a green streak, here are a few events that are working to combine great shows with sound resource management, and even environmental education:

  • Green Music Fest in Chicago: This event debuted this past weekend, and brought together fourteen bands and over sixty green vendors in West Town’s Eckhart Park. Among the green(er) features: biodiesel-powered generators, biodegradable plastic cups, recycling and composting options, and a free bicycle valet service.

  • Bonnaroo: One of the world’s largest music festivals is also working to become one of the greenest (and has been recognized as such by the organization A Greener Festival). The Manchester, Tennessee-based event has worked to decrease energy consumption, and featured permanent water wells, a composting pad, and a victory garden at this summer’s show. The festival has also worked hard to slash traffic emissions by making it easier for drivers to get in.

  • Atlanta Jazz Festival: This free festival has also been recognized by A Greener Festival for “an ongoing commitment to sustainability in recycling, transportation and event administration,” which includes a plan for recycling waste vegetable oil from the event into biodiesel, and encouraging biking, walking, carpooling, and public transportation use.

  • ROTHBURY: This young festival based in Rothbury, Michigan describes itself as “dedicated to throwing a HUGE party… with a purpose.” Not only does the event have plans for reducing waste and resource inefficiency, but it even holds a “think tank” on sustainability as part of the festivities.

  • Music on the Mountaintop: Created for a business class assignment by Appalacian State University student Jimmy Hunt, this Boone, North Carolina-based festival features a solar-powered stage, a “green village” with vendors and non-profits, and recycling and composting efforts. You can still go to this one this year: it’s being held on August 29th.

Of course, we’re merely scratching the surface here — many festivals are greening themselves, and others make green the focus. Got a favorite? Share it below…

Image credit: World Resources Institute Staff at Flickr under a Creative Commons license