Greening Outdoor Music Festivals
Soaking up the rays while listening to your favorite bands performing under one massive soundstage is one of those life-affirming experiences that is well worth the occasional shattered eardrum or concession stand financial hostage situation. Think about all of the positives: endless opportunities for people watching, making a mental note of up-and-coming fashion trends, working on your summer bronzing ritual and even cultivating budding friendships. Aside from post-body-surfing bruises and the perspiration of several hundred people clinging to your battered torso, the major downside of attending outdoor musical events is the mind-blowing amount of trash that people drop at their feet without thinking twice.

Old habits die hard. Our culture is all about consumption and upgrading to the latest greatest thing, whatever that may be. While it’s in our nature to use something once and discard it in record speed without so much as batting an eyelash, anyone who has a pulse on the state of the world knows that the tide is finally beginning to turn in Mother Nature’s favor.

In addition to countless other industries, concert organizers are increasingly trying to green up their act through the implementation of creative new efforts that help consumers to tread lightly. Ever had to pay a refundable deposit for a reusable plastic cup at a concert? If it hasn’t happened to you yet, it’s the wave of the future, so be prepared. There is no reason why any of us should be drinking beverages out of one-time-use cups and then chucking them — in fact, imagine removing the garbage pail from the equation altogether. That’s what the Incredible Cup Company is doing with its fully recyclable eco-glasses that are used at least 100 times before being transformed into household PVC pipes. Their concept is highly unique, since they charge a fully refundable deposit up front that encourages consumers to return their empties to the concession stand, significantly reducing the potential for waste. A Greener Festival takes it to the next level by helping global events such as America’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival and Great Britain’s Bestival and Glastonbury (among many others) adopt greener practices through education and resources. While it’s beneficial to offer water bottles made with 100% recycled PET content, they feel that concert organizers can set a far greener standard by instead selling reusable bottles that come with automatic free H20 refills. Reward incentives are yet another concept that they believe can encourage responsible eco-crowd stewardship. North Carolina-based Clean Vibes recognizes that despite the greatest green intentions, there will inevitably be piles of waste to contend with. The company’s sole purpose is to sift through material, properly collating it into recyclable and compostable piles that can then be efficiently processed. Wrap your brain around these eco-coups: In 2009, following San Francisco’s Outside Lands concert, Clean Vibes successfully diverted 68% of the material that was initially destined for landfills (the equivalent of 63,400 pounds of recyclable waste and 31,800 pounds of compostable waste), and at Tennessee’s Bonnaroo festival, they diverted 65% of landfill-bound waste (the equivalent of a staggering 261,480 pounds of recyclable material and 60,000 pounds of compostable material). While Clean Vibes tackles a seemingly dirty business that very few would willingly partake in, it is a very necessary service with huge rewards for our environment, concert organizers and attendees. For those who are truly inspired by their business model and eco-mission, there are several upcoming opportunities to volunteer as a member of the cleanup crew. Of course, we are all capable of making post-concert cleanup efforts a little easier without breaking much of a sweat. At the next outdoor event you attend, how about treating the site the same way you would of your very own home? If that’s still challenging for some inexplicable reason, remember that it takes just one split second to do the right thing and half a second to drop a plastic bottle or aluminum can in the proper recycling bin.