Summer festivals increasingly go green
By Marites Woodbury
Summer is festival season. Festival season means a massive number of people coming together. And that means trash and waste… lots of it.
Music festivals nationwide and in Michigan have started taking special initiatives to help counteract that impact.
Large music festivals like Tennessee’s Bonnaroo, California’s Coachella and the Illinois Lollapalooza have made huge environmentally friendly advances. They include solar powered stages, water refill stations and even a trading post that accept recyclables as a type of currency to redeem food and souvenirs.
The 500 Festival in Indianapolis is committed to making a fun and environmentally friendly event, said Meghan Bulla, communication manager for the festival.
“We have a close partnership with the city Waste Management and more then 7,000 volunteers each year to provide the dumpsters and encourage recycling throughout the festival,” she said.
The festival annually runs a mini-marathon and parade.
Pepsi provides recycling bins for the nearly 40,000 mini-marathon participants a at the festival’s race party.
In Michigan, Lansing’s Common Ground festival has been environmentally conscious since 2009.
“We started seeing events like Bonnaroo and Coachella using ‘going green’ as a promotional talk point and thought ‘Hey, we can do that, too’,” said Jennifer Taylor, office manager and volunteer coordinator of the festival that features top 40 and oldies rock acts. “But more importantly, we are actually making things greener. It really is a win-win.”
Festival officials research the companies they use to make sure they are eco-friendly, Taylor said.
“We work with companies like Miller and Pepsi who do a lot of recycling on their own,” said Taylor. “We chose to work with them because their bottles are made with previously recycled bottles. We also encourage, but don’t currently require, that vendors use eco-friendly takeout containers.”
Common Ground employs a Green Team – a group that makes sure people put bottles into the recycling containers instead of the trash. And it educates the public about recycling.
“We wanted to provide the next step to the public,” said Taylor. “Not only did we want to encourage people to recycle, but after they do, we wanted to make sure that they know about landfills and waste and why recycling is so important.”
The Green Team is also widely used during the On the Waterfront Festival, one of the biggest music festivals in Rockford, Illinois.
For the last six years the festival administration raised funds to raise awareness of the environmental protection, said Becky Genoways, president and CEO of the festival.
“Going “green” is one the priorities of our festival,” she said. “We work with more then 200,000 volunteers, who do recycling and help us to spread the message of keeping our environment clean.”
The festival has a “Green Street” area where energy, health and environmental companies present information and educate public on the early protection of the environment.
“People like to learn about environment, energy conservation and alternative energy resources,” said Genoways
Promoting energy conservation is the main theme at The Rothbury Michigan’s electronic music festival, Electric Forest.
“Electric Forest uses an insane amount of light bulbs for their shows,” said festival lighting worker Kali Root. “But, they make sure to use the most environmentally friendly ones possible. Especially considering the amount of them that are being used.”
Bled Fest in Howell, Mich. is hosted in a high school, but is still considered one of the nation’s biggest alternative music festivals.
“We don’t waste a lot of stuff,” said Bled Fest founder Nate Dorough.
“We like to utilize things that are already in place.”
Most marketing is done online, making the festival’s advertising environmentally friendly, Dorough said.
“When we do use paper, we print all of our flyers on biodegradable recycled paper with soy ink,” said Dorough. “That way, if people drop them, it isn’t littering, they just get absorbed back into the Earth. There has definitely been a huge push for festivals to be more environmentally conscious in recent years. I’m sure some people are doing it just because it’s ‘in’ right now, but trendy or not, at least it’s promoting a positive change in the world.”
Saodat Asanova contributed to this report