Written by Lilian Min • Photography by Jordan Nicholson, Live Nation • December 7, 2016
Music festivals provide spectacular shows for huge crowds, but they also impact the environment. After all, these are big productions that require lots of energy, equipment and manpower. But these days, more and more festivals are coming up with ways to make going green an integral part of the festival experience.
That’s where initiatives like carbon offsetting come in. Carbon offsetting encourages organizations and individuals to buy carbon “credits” to fund green projects elsewhere in the world, such as capturing methane gas in landfills to provide energy. In the music festival context, organizers can buy enough carbon credits to cancel out their festival’s anticipated carbon footprint, thereby making their festival “carbon neutral.” Some festivals take this further by also offsetting the carbon impact of transporting artists and crew to and from the venue.
Some of your favorite festivals, including Sasquatch, Treasure Island, and Outside Lands have all engaged in some level of carbon offsetting in the past decade, but these days, many more festivals have all sorts of green policies and suggestions in place. Festivals as iconic as Bonnaroo and as young as New Jersey’s Gratitude Migration embrace internal changes like compostable and/or recyclable serveware, clean energy and waste recycling practices. Meanwhile, California’s Lightning in a Bottle has made sustainability one of its central themes and actively encourages fans to rideshare with OpenRide. The festival encourages you to carpool, while charging single drivers $30. At other festivals like Coachella and Bestival, you have to pay to use cups and bottles, which encourages attendees to bring their own refillable water bottles.
While the music festival industry continues to grow, many established festivals return to the same grounds year after year. As a result, organizers, production companies and fans alike have an investment in greening practices. After all, every festival has its own vibe, due in large part to its location — and that’s something worth protecting.