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Greener 2008 Summer Sustainable Music Festivals

May 26th, 2008 · Leave a Comment

In 2007 Grist.org, an environment news and commentary site, posted an excellent comparison of the industries largest music festivals rating them along dimensions including recycling, green power, green exhibits, carbon offsets, green donations and organic/local food.   While Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits rated the strongest across all categories, South by Southwest, Bonnaroo and Bumbershoot were not far behind.  Both Coachella and Sasquatch! received the lowest ratings with two and one stars respectively.

With the 2008 Summer Music Festival season upon us Grist.org once again reviews the topic.  They start off referring to the unique approach taken by Coachella this year who organized an Amtrack train to bring LA residents out to the Indio, CA grounds.  Over 300 fans chose this “public transportation” route for their journey to the show and their train tickets were free.

Later this summer the Rothbury Festival during the July 4th holiday aims to be a concert with a purpose.  Rothbury features top music talent including Dave Mathews Band, John Mayer,  Thievery Corporation, The Dresden Dolls, Crystal Method, Beth Orton and many, many more.   In their own words, they provide the guidelines they have followed in organizing their event.  Many of these items should be considerations for any live event or tour planning:

ROTHBURY is dedicated to throwing a HUGE party… with a purpose. This July 4th weekend, ROTHBURY emerges as a new American celebration where music and cause join together to stir ideas, to awaken possibilities, and to empower through knowledge. And yeah, to have the time of our lives.

Our theme is Finding Energy Independence. ROTHBURY is guided by a bold environmental sustainability mission. Dedicated to running as close to a zero-waste event as possible, we have implemented the following initiatives, and continue to add to this list:

All ROTHBURY offices have been “Greened.” Just a few examples of the many sustainable initiatives we have implemented include: full service recycling is active at all offices; all paper products are 100% recycled, including but not limited to printing paper, copy paper, envelopes, letterhead; office printing is either two sided, or on the back of reused paper; all our offices use only reusables and compostable kitchen-ware, no disposables; all office supplies have been replaced by their eco equivalents: rechargeable batteries, hand soap, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, energy efficient light bulbs, and more; energy audits and monthly tracking have begun; the ROTHBURY team travels only when necessary, and when we do travel, we offset the carbon we create from our hotel stays, flights and/or automobiles.

When purchasing or even renting an item, ROTHBURY asks ourselves three questions:

  1. Where is this coming from?
  2. How was it made?
  3. Where might it end up?

For example, printing (this includes our on-site programs, posters, tickets, survival guides, smaller signage, etc.):

  1. Our paper comes from an independent/green-only paper company
  2. It is 100% recycled content, no trees cut. It is printed with soy-based inks.
  3. We will not print anything unnecessary, so as to reduce waste. Everything we do print can be recycled again, and we will provide recycling containers on site so that it has a better chance of reentering the system.

ROTHBURY is taking advantage of our ability to vote with our dollar. In addition to paper, ROTHBURY purchases compostables instead of disposables, offers organic and sustainable merchandise (t-shirts, hats), uses biodiesel, provides organic, veggie & vegan food vendors throughout the grounds, and more. Heck, we are even swapping out the porta-potty toilet paper to 100% recycled. Got another idea? Let us know!

ROTHBURY is committed to eliminating trash. If trash can be replaced with a more sustainable option, such as a reusable, it will be. If an item is going to end up in a landfill, we are going to make best efforts to not use it in the first place.  Additionally, our vendors, sponsors and other on-site associates have enthusiastically (and contractually) agreed to our same high standards, and will not hand out anything that might soon be thrown ‘away’. By the way….where is away?!

Instead of standard ‘trash items’ like plastic cups, plates and utensils, ROTHBURY uses compostable products made from renewable plant sources. Examples include plates made of sugarcane (called Bagasse), and cups, straws, and trash bags made of corn (called Bioplastic). ROTHBURY strongly encourages our attendees to bring their compostable items to one of the many manned compost stations on the grounds!

As much as 30-40% of the ‘trash’ generated at an average festival could have been composted (and most of the rest can be recycled). In an effort to divert as much waste as possible, ROTHBURY offers manned compost stations available on-site. These stations accept all compostable food and food service items, as well as any personal items you would like to bring to us that are biodegradable (like paper). Because ROTHBURY is an ‘overnight’ festival that allows attendees to bring in their own food & food service items into the campgrounds, the possibility for accidental tainting is strong (a few petroleum items can taint it all). For this reason, you will not see compost bins along side every recycling/trash bin on the grounds. However, manned compost stations will be available throughout the event grounds, and will be marked on the event maps, for your convenience.

For those items that are not compostable, like bottles and cans, ROTHBURY will provide easy to use full-service recycling. At ROTHBURY, you will never see a trashcan without a recycling can along side it (Trash? What trash?!). All recycling can be mixed except paper and cardboard.  That means plastic bottles, glass bottles and aluminum cans may all go in the same bin. Easy! Anywhere you see a trash can at ROTHBURY, you will also see recycle cans. Each will be labeled clearly, so please be sure to pause, read them, and select accordingly. Please recycle whenever possible!

Not sure if an item is compost, recycling, or trash? When in doubt, just ask the Green Team! ROTHBURY’s tremendous volunteer Green Team will be on hand to assist with questions, sorting, and to generally assist in the elimination of tainting. They are well trained and ready to answer any questions you might have. Want to volunteer and get into the event for free? Great, we couldn’t do it without you! Check out details about ROTHBURY’s Work Exchange Program.

ROTHBURY supports Clean Energy. This includes bio-diesel and solar powered stages, light towers, sponsor power sources, golf carts, etc. Some elements of ROTHBURY have to be ‘on the grid’. For those elements that we power ourselves, we choose to power them with clean energy.

While we’d love to fly to Michigan on an ethanol plane, the opportunity does not yet exist. For those items we cannot run clean (like an electric powered stage, or an airline flight), ROTHBURY offsets our carbon output. We are currently exploring opportunities to offset our carbon in a way which specifically benefits the local Rothbury community.

ROTHBURY is working with public transportation systems to create easy to use travel opportunities, and incentives for those who reduce their impact by taking public transport. We have only just begun to outline transportation options to ROTHBURY. Stay tuned for more information on airport shuttles, chartered eco-busses, and more.

ROTHBURY is dedicated to educating through experience. ROTHBURY will feature a Think Tank, an Energy Fair, an on-site eco-art made of reclaimed products, and more.  Keep your eye out in scheduling updates as details are confirmed, and once on-site for plenty of unannounced surprises.

This next one might not be for every music festival going fan but we thought we would show you this eco-friendly music festival tent called the “MyHab” and I am not sure I could take this one seriously as they cost 245 British pounds (about $500US):

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