Mobilization and Events

The 6 Most Sustainable Music Festivals

It’s summer and that means two things: When we’re not scooting into the hills for adventure’s sake, we’re getting our festival on at one of the hundreds of musical gatherings around the nation. But if there is any type of gathering that magnifies our impact on the planet, the music fest is just that. Here’s a list of the fests around the nation that are making a serious effort to offset their environmental impact. Read on and remember to party mindfully.

Pickathon (Pendarvis Farms, OR)
This quaint little festival just outside Portland, OR on Pendarvis farms is what other festivals aspire to be. This year’s Pickathon saw folk heavy hitters Andrew Bird, Feist and The Devil Makes Three among an eclectic mix of acts on six different stages “designed to create juxtaposing alternate realities.”

In 2013 Pickathon is the only festival in America to completely eliminate single-use cups, dishware and utensils. Since 2010 festival organizers have committed themselves to eliminating all plastic beverage containers, making Pickathon the first music festival in the country to go plastic (bottle and cup) free. Instead festival goers bring their own dishes or purchase groovy cups, plates and bowls that they can take home and store in their china drawers. Along with using 100% solar energy, Pickathon is fantastic at creating completely sustainable good vibes and keeping performances intimate and memorable, instead of crowdy and sweaty.With stages nestled in the cozy forest, a hay bale ampitheater and hammocks abound, few festivals feel as warm and embracing as Pickathon.1pick

Lightning in a Bottle (Temecula, CA)
This hip festival near Temecula, CA is the only American festival to win an Outstanding award from A Greener Festival 3 years in a row. Centered primarily around EDM, Lightning in a Bottle is a celebration of Art, Sustainability, Music, Performance, and Life. Every year in mid July, the festival host speakers and workshops on topics of sustainability, spirituality and child-friendly entertainment, in addition to the live music constantly gracing the atmosphere. According to their site, “Behind everything we do at LIB is a deep commitment to our environment and our sustainability practices which we continually strive to improve every year.”

Lightning in a Bottle’s dedication to education is what sets them apart from other festivals. “Our environmental lineup of workshops focuses on easy, low cost, do-it-yourself ways that people can lower resource use, driving, purchasing, packaging, and learn to grow their own food and make their own resources.”

Project Earth (Geneva, MN)
While most festivals are trying to pack as many people into the grounds as possible, Project Earth in Harmony Park, Minnesota has a different motive. “Most festivals are jam packed with non-stop over stimulation for your inner Bliss Junkie to get its fix. Although we do love that, Project Earth had a different mission last year — To slow it all down and open space for the family to discover more of each other and strengthen our community roots.” In 2013, ticket sales were restricted to just 800 bright-eyed hippies.

Project Earth is a small festival outside Geneva, Minnesota put on by local psychedelic-folk-reggae favorites Wookiefoot and 100% of benefits go to Wookiefoot’s charity organization, Be the Change which funnels support to communities worldwide. .This is a real-deal hippie get-down in the land of a thousand lakes — the campsites are arranged by chakras and there is just as much yoga and drum circles as there are performances. Not a bad place to get your inner freak on.

Nelsonville Music Fest (Nelsonville, OH)
With heavy hitting acts like Wilco, Mavis Staples headlining this year’s Nelsonville Music Festival, this hoe down in Ohio is one of the most popular music fests not in California. The organizers, along with Rural Action and the Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative, planned to reach zero waste for this year’s fest, and though the numbers aren’t in quite yet, they were close last year. In 2012, the Nelsonville Music Festival, had a 72% recycling and composting rate, diverting 3,090 lbs. of materials from the landfill. Festival attendees recycled over 1,200 lbs of materials and composted over 1,800 lbs.

Lollapalooza (Chicago, IL)
One of the biggest festivals nation-wide, Lollapalooza is a leader on sustainable efforts including the Rock and Recylcle program that incentivizes recycling by offering folks the chance to win cool swag like t-shirts and beer cozies. They also track and offset their carbon footprint. To date, Lollapalooza has offset approximately 14.2 million lbs of greenhouse gas emissions, which is as much as taking over 1,300 cars off the road for one year. Festival attendees can purchase carbon offsets for $3 that benefit the Indian Creek Landfill Gas Project in Hopedale, IL. The landfill has special equipment that captures methane, a naturally occurring landfill gas that is 20 times as potent as CO2, and destroys it through a combustion process.lolla2

The Big Green (Kimberly, WI)
Although it’s only two years old, The Big Green Sustainable Music Festival in Kimberly, WI is making a big step to be 100% green in all aspects (pun intended). In addition to environmentally sound measures such as no single-use water bottles, bio-diesel used as a power source, composting food waste, dinnerware and cups the event is also focused on prioritizing local vendors instead of large, corporate sponsors.

According to their website, “We promote our local economy through the local sourcing of entertainment talent, workshops, marketplace offerings, and use local restaurants that serve locally-sourced food. All proceeds will be reinvested in our local community through Sustainable Fox Valley. The Big Green Sustainable Music Festival strives to create a socially just event.” I don’t care what anyone says, Wisconsin knows how to party. Hop on over to their website to access their completely transparent waste management statistics and ambitious sustainable objectives and targets plan.