Local is Sustainable: A Special Kind of Green at Bonnaroo

Brian Wiseman - Contributing Writer
Posted on Tuesday 19th May 2009
If you’re anything like the 80,000 attendees who made the pilgrimage last year, on June 11th, you’ll be in Manchester, Tennessee for the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, an event showcasing top musicians, comedians and artists from around the world. Hopefully, you’ll be carpooling or taking mass transportation; the road from Philadelphia to Manchester is 814 miles, roughly a 13-hour trip. Otherwise, your green experience will begin inside the fences of the 700-acre farm-turned-campground. The festival, whose motto proudly exclaims “Local is Sustainable”, has gained worldwide popularity hosting lineups that, this year, boasts the likes of musical legends Bruce Springsteen, Wilco and Al Green, as well as rising stars within the music industry, playing on numerous stages and tents throughout the event. The organizers of Bonnaroo seem just as conscious of producing the most eco-friendly music festival possible. Their efforts have been rewarded as last year they received the Festival Outstanding Marks from A Greener Festival, a UK organization promoting sustainability at gatherings like these around the world. Sticking by their words, organizers are not only buying but giving back to local farmers. 15,000 lbs of hay from surrounding farms will purchase to feed the 90 security horses replacing the 12 security vehicles used in previous years. The horse manure will be donated back to these farmers, decreasing the carbon footprint of both parties. All of the lumber used in production will be logged locally. Education is a main facet of the festivals multi-sided push for eco-awareness. So far this year, 40% of ticket buyers have participated in Bonnaroo’s “Green Ticket” program: a donation added to the ticket price to support the festivals environmental efforts. Planners hired a year round sustainability coordinator to oversee the staff. During this year’s event, Green ambassadors will be roaming the grounds and green service pods designed to educate fans with information on sustainability standards. Bonnaroo has been partnered with The Carbon Shredders whose goal is to convince patrons to reduce their carbon footprint by 10%. This outreach includes message boards and mailers sent to patrons throughout the year. This year, consumption means conservation. All concessions will be served in biodegradable items manufactured from corn. These products will be composted on site with food waste, diverting 10 tons of garbage from the landfill while producing fertilizer for the farm. To reduce the use of PET bottles, the festival will have fresh drinking water stations throughout the grounds. For more information, visit www.bonnaroo.com.

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