8 Eco-Friendly Festival Tips

May 11, 2012 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

Summer Camp 2011 – Photo Credit: Mike Cavanagh

Go green.

It’s become a trendy catchphrase, emblazoned across T-shirts and bolstering ad campaigns, synonymous with expressions like, “rock on” or the ever-abused peace sign.

But when we get down to it, “go green” is an environmentally political slogan that was popularized in effort to increase awareness about our habits and lifestyles and the detrimental effect they’ve had on our planet.

From environmentally friendly cleaning products to the localized food movement, there’s a green influence on many of today’s innovations. But tips and guidelines are only as effective as the effort we put into adjusting.

[FIND complete lineups, ticketing information and analysis of all your favorite festivals via our 2012 Festival Guide.]

Bonnaroo is one of the pioneer in environmental awareness and sustainability. The festival encouraged sustainable practices among attendees through carbon reduction and the power of solar energy, as well as reducing disposable water bottle usage and increasing recycling.

The more than a decade-old event also implemented a Bonnaroo Victory Vegetable Garden, permanent water wells and a composting pad in recent years that set the bar for festivals to follow in it’s wake.

Artists have hopped on the green bandwagon, as well.

Radiohead partnered with Best Foot Forward – a UK-based company that functions to reduce carbon emissions – in an effort to not only minimize their own eco-footprint, but also their fans’.

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In a calculated study based on transportation, food consumption and waste left behind at venues, the band concluded that the majority of emissions stem from transportation. Earth 911 and Radiohead encourage fans to use public transportation or to carpool.

If average car occupancy increased from 2.2 to three people, the whole tour’s overall CO2 output would be reduced by 22 percent, according to a report from Best Foot Forward.

Here are eight tips to share in the green groove this summer, as well as a few words to live by while on tour– “Pack it in, pack it out!”

1. Travel Alternatives

Consider your options and carpool. Flying is the most carbon intensive method of transportation, so when possible, take a train or a bus. They use less gas and can save you money for that extra grilled cheese. Many festivals offer shuttle transportation from surrounding hotels and areas as well. Here are some helpful links that can help: Green Guide Network, Muzik Bus, Rock The Bike.

2. Conserve

Turn off your electronics when your leave the campsite. Don’t leave an amp or speakers plugged in or turned on while you’re not at your campsite. RV campers should be aware of their generators as well.

3. Recharge

A single rechargeable battery can replace up to 1,000 single-use alkaline batteries during its lifetime. Check out some rechargeable batteries for your iPod deck, speakers and flashlight. If they’re not an option, make sure to properly recycle those single-use batteries.

4. Compost

Bring compostable hygienics and toiletries. Seventh Generation, Meyer’s, Method and Ecover are all eco-friendly options and can be found at Target, Whole Foods Markets and other relatively common stores.

5. Recycle

It may seem like the most obvious of the bunch, but recycling your waste is still overlooked by many fans when you’re trying to clean up the campsite and conveniently dispose of trash.

Many festivals now offer supervised and labeled recycling stations to sort and get rid of your garbage quickly and easily. Also, bring a couple garbage bags to your campsite to separate trash from recyclables.

6. Reuse

Leave Styrofoam at home (or don’t buy it all). Styrofoam is not biodegradable and therefore one of the most harmful materials to the environment.

Instead, use compostable cups, napkins and utensils that are made from plant starch and recycled materials or utensils from home that you can rinse off and reuse the whole weekend.

7. Refill

Bring a refillable water bottle or Camelback to reduce disposable bottle usage and save money. Every concert of festival will have either fountains, spigots or some sort of water station available to fill your bottles, brush your teeth and rinse your utensils (and your smelly body – but that’s for your own good).

Water bottles inside the concert grounds will cost nearly three times as much as the average water bottle found in a gas station or supermarket, too.

8. Volunteer

Do your part in helping to green this planet by making small, individual adjustments to your own lifestyle and habits. They will quickly amass if we each take the responsibility upon ourselves.

Nonetheless, sustainable efforts at music festivals and large events require as much help and volunteer time as possible. The Work Exchange Team (WET) will refund your ticket costs for volunteer hours.

This summer they’ll be at Wakarusa, Bonnaroo, The Hangout, Electric Forest, All Good, and more. Visit the Work Exchange Team website to learn about opportunities to get involved!


Check out Natural Step’s sustainable Music Festival Guidebook for more tips on responsible touring this summer. Other sources: Reverb.org, lnt.org

What other tips do you have to be green for festival season? Let us know in the comments below.

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