A Green Guide to Music Festival Season

Julia Keim - Contributing Writer
Posted on Tuesday 12th May 2009

The approach of summer is an exciting time for many reasons, but for music lovers it means the start of music festival season. Each year thousands of people converge, typically for three days, in locations ranging from remote farmland to bustling cities. Regardless of the setting, environmental responsibility has become an increasingly unavoidable issue, and some of the season’s biggest music festivals are stepping up to the challenge of making their events as earth-friendly as possible. It is difficult to find a festival website that doesn’t have a section dedicated to their environmental efforts, and some are coming up with new and creative ways to go green. Here are some of the green highlights for the 2009 season:


April 17 – 19 2009, Indio CA

This year’s Coachella already took place, and for the third year they encouraged attendees to carpool through their Carpoolchella initiative. Carpoolers with four or more passengers in their vehicle had the chance to win some amazing prizes such as VIP tickets to Coachella for life and all access side stage passes. This year also saw the launch of a water program seeking to reduce the amount of plastic water bottles sold at the event. They provided alternative options in free drinking fountains, cold filtered water for $1 (provide your own reusable container), or the option of purchasing a $10 plastic container and getting free filtered water all weekend.


June 11 – 14 2009, Manchester TN

Spanning four days and taking place on a farm in rural Manchester, Tennessee, Bonnaroo has always encouraged attendees to respect the environment and “leave no trace.” Upholding the principle that local is sustainable, vendors are encouraged to source their food locally and generators run on bio-diesel from local sources. 2009 will see the return of the Clean Vibes Trading Post, where cans, bottles and cups can be exchanged for various items and souvenirs. Planet Roo will also be back, featuring a solar-powered performance stage and waste-free café. Those with some extra cash can join the Bonnaroo Carbon Shredders and pledge to reduce their carbon footprint by 10%, or purchase a Bonnaroo Green Ticket and become a Bonnaroo stakeholder by making a contribution towards improving sustainability practices in Manchester.


June 24 – 28 2009, Pilton, England UK

Like Bonnaroo, Glastonbury takes place on a farm and organizers ask that attendees “Love the Farm – Leave No Trace.” Over the years Glastonbury has worked closely with organizations like Oxfam, WaterAid and Greenpeace, all of whom have a strong presence at the festival. Green Police patrol the festival grounds and there are even wildlife sanctuaries to protect birds and other animals on the farm during the festival.


August 7 – 9 2009, Chicago IL

Lollapalooza takes place in a park in the middle of busy downtown Chicago, but is still faced by the same environmental challenges as other festivals. One way attendees are encouraged to take care of their surroundings is Lolla’s Rock & Recycle program. Inside each free program is a Lolla Green Card with various things festival-goers can do throughout the weekend to be environmentally friendly and earn a stamp. Those who earn all of their stamps in ’09 have a shot at winning a 2010 Honda Insight hybrid. Attendees can also check out Green Street, featuring vendors that sell green goods, or buy a “BeGreen™ Fan Tag” for $5 to offset their carbon footprint and get a souvenir for the good deed.

Outside Lands

August 28 – 30 2009, San Francisco CA

Set in the beautiful Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, the location of Outside Lands certainly lends itself to the environment and being as green as possible. Only the festival’s second year of existence, 2009 will have many of the same environmental initiatives put in place in 2008, such as a solar powered stage, valet bicycles and a Local Farmers Market featuring organic, locally sourced food. The Passport Program is a fun way for attendees to earn stamps for their green actions, giving them a chance to win prizes including tickets to next year’s festival, merchandise, or even the chance to watch one of the weekend’s headline performances from the best seats in the house. Festival-goers can also trade in their cans, plastic cups and bottles in exchange for points, which can then be used to purchase items ranging from bottled water to organic jeans and Outside Lands merchandise or tickets.


September 5 – 7 2009, Seattle WA

Bumbershoot might not be the largest festival of the season but it still makes the effort to be green by encouraging attendees to carpool or use alternative means of transportation, and to use non-disposable water bottles (free drinking water is provided). Old festival signage is reused to make Bumbershoot bags, and attendees can offset their travel carbon emission by purchasing a $2 credit.

Austin City Limits

October 2 – 4 2009, Austin TX

Like Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits has the same Rock & Recycle program in which attendees earn stamps on their Green Card for a chance to win a 2010 Honda Insight hybrid. The ACL BeGreen™ Fan Tag can be purchased for $3 to offset festival travel, but festival-goers are encouraged to use public transportation or bicycles to go back and forth between the festival site and downtown Austin.

This season, whether you are attending one festival or all, go green and clean up after yourself so that music lovers can continue to enjoy the festivals for years to come!

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