At your last music festival, you loved the tunes, being outside and communing with thousands of happy folks. But something about the scene was bugging you. Maybe the plastic cups all over the ground? The terrible frozen food trucked in from a warehouse 10 states away? Or all the cars in the traffic jam trying to get in and out?
You’re not alone. Music festival promoters and performers have noticed the not-so-green aspects of the events, too, and they’re responding by making them more sustainable than ever. Here’s how you can enjoy some of the best festivals and a few tips on how you can help make them more sustainable while you’re at it.
Organizers of Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, slated for June 8–11, took action starting in 2014 to reduce the number of plastic cups, as Rolling Stone noted. Fans are encouraged to bring their own refillable stainless steel cups or buy one there. In 2015, they reduced the event’s total waste by two-thirds and the number of bottles or cups used by about 800,000.
The Pickathon Music Festival on Aug. 3–6 took the fight against plastic even further. It’s the only festival to have eliminated single-use cups, bottles, dishes and utensils. There’s plenty of free drinking water, and attendees are encouraged to bring their own bottles to fill up any time. And the energy from solar panels offsets what’s used during the festival in the Galaxy Barn.
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on April 14–16 and April 21–23 has some on-brand ways to show its commitment to the environment. “Carpoolchella” promotes carpooling with a chance to win special passes and upgrades. The Recycling Store lets you trade in empty bottles for points toward merchandise.
Proud to call itself a green music festival, Summer Camp on May 26–28 has color-coded waste stations for recycling, composting and garbage. It uses biodiesel generators for all electricity and supports local community groups and environmental education.
Another of the biggest gatherings, on Aug. 3–6, Lollapalooza sponsors a Rock & Recycle giveaway program and encourages alternative transportation (public transit, biking or even walking). It also keeps track of and reduces its carbon footprint. So far, that’s amounted to 16.6 million pounds of carbon emissions, the amount 1.7 million young trees can absorb in a year.
This mountain-set gathering on June 15–18 claims 20 years of commitment to “some of the country’s most magnificent natural environments.” Telluride offers free filtered water and promotes waste reduction, again targeting those ever-present plastic bottles. The festival buys carbon credits, as well as renewable energy credits to support wind farms.
If you want to be even more green — and suffer from fewer traffic-induced headaches — take public transportation or carpool to these festivals. And remember: It’s more than possible to have a good time while the Earth is enjoying herself, too.