Thursday, June 08, 2006

America's Premier Music Festivals Going Green

Five years ago, who would have thought that the nation's premier music festivals, including the upcoming Bonnaroo megafest in Tennessee and Wakarusa in Kansas (yes--the same Kansas that has attracted attention for teaching Creation as a viable alternative to evolution for explaining the earth's diversity of life) would be going green.

I mean, High Sierra Music Festival in northern California--sure. They just continue to get greener, including by converting used vegetable oil from their food vendors to biodiesel and using it to power their stages. And the new Green Apple Music Festival? Well of course--it's in their name!

But festivals in the middle of red states like Kansas and Tennessee?

Bonnaroo, taking place next weekend in Manchester Tennessee, is boasting a highly admirable and creative list of green initiatives, including:

  • Over 25,000 gallons of biodiesel fuel (B100) to replace diesel for non-music stage generators

  • WastAway refuse handling process to recycle over 250 tons of garbage

  • Concession food served with biodegradable wraps, plates, cups and cutlery manufactured from a renewable resource

  • Festival wide recycling and composting program

  • Cool Tags wind credits purchasing (and facilitation of purchases for patrons)

  • Solar stage and sound system

  • Organic cotton and hemp t-shirts

  • Tree free posters

  • Post-consumer recycled toilet paper for portolets

  • Post-consumer recycled paper for all administrative needs

  • Aggressively seeking ways to make Bonnaroo 2007 even greener

  • They have also invited the World Resources Institute, Rock the Earth, and Natural Resources Defense Council to raise awareness among fans about simple steps they can take to help stop global warming. Given that the festival organizers, Superfly Presents, hail from New Orleans, it is fair to say that they now take global warming very seriously and want to make sure their fans do as well.

    Wakarusa, occurring this weekend just outside of Lawrence, Kansas, has announced more modest initiatives, focused on the purchase of enough Green Tags, or renewable energy credits, from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) to offset the environmental impact of powering the four-day festival. The festival organizers state that by purchasing Green Tags, which represent the real savings in carbon dioxide and other pollutants that occur when green, renewable energy replaces electricity produced by burning fossil fuel, they will offset more than 63,000 lbs. of greenhouse gasses (primarily measured as carbon dioxide).

    For individual concertgoers, the festvial offers the option of "greening" their travel to and from Lawrence. Attendees can purchase Green Tags to offset the energy used to travel to the show. BEF established three levels at which people may green their travel to the event, those traveling from "near" (310 miles or less), those traveling "far" (between 310 and 960- miles), and a third option for those traveling by air. Each purchase will offset the corresponding amount of carbon dioxide that is put into the atmosphere per person during a vehicle or plane trip.

    While society's current rise toward sustainability still has a long long way to go, the growing influence of the music industry as a supporter, promoter and enabler of sustainable living and business holds tremendous potential for affecting massive positive change. To realize this potential, festival organizers should make certain to incorporate an empowering and effective educational component into their greening initiatives. One that presents fresh and positive perspectives of sustainability's benefits that really hit home for a wide range of people, well beyond "The Choir". That is, help the masses of music fans understand how each green practice benefits not just the environment, but also the economy, public health and safety, national security, and quality of life.


    1. Anonymous10:51 PM

      i wanted to talk to you about the cows at sunol. i have been chased by them this year and they are very very aggressive..scare the crap out of me. I hike over there 3-4 times a week...and it just isn't safe at all to have these cows there. Those huge bulls are still on that indian joe trail. The really aggressive ones are between flag hill and indian joe and then up top at cerre este overlook and between little yosemite. I know several other people who have been chased by them this one takes me seriously. They laugh. But the park ranger at the gate said "oh, we have had a lot of complaints lately, this year it has been a real big problem." But I notice your story is from this is not a new problem. It is dangerous and very unsafe. Just thought I would say something in response to your own experience.

    2. Hi Rose-
      Maybe it's because the cows know you comment about cow attacks under a post about the greening of music festivals...

      Seriously, though, I take it you are referring to my report of aggressive cows in the Sunol Regional Wilderness. That is, quite seriously, no light matter. I have a long history of working on ranches and the aggressive behavior of the cows there is not, in my experience, normal. I usually find cows to be curious (they love to graze around my car when it is parked) and a bit afraid, but not aggressive like at Sunol (and Wildcat Canyon) (bulls--that's a different story). I don't know if it is that lineage of livestock at Sunol, or whether the cows there pick up on the hostility of people towards them, and are hostile in return. Either way, I agree that the livestock there are a danger to public safety. I'd hate for it to take somebody's child to be maimed before action is taken to alleviate the situation.

      Constructively, it would make for an interesting graduate project to have some students evaluate cattle/human interactions at these east bay parks vs. in other grazed parks and on private ranches. I'd hypothesize that they'd find that these are unusually aggressive cows. I'd be very curious to see the explanations and solutions that they propose.