Bonnaroo's Good Vibrations
The country's biggest outdoor festival does its part to save the planet
By Kate Sheppard
Every June, 90,000 music and comedy lovers from all over the country take over a 700-acre farm in rural Tennessee, where they spend four days eating, drinking, sleeping and, of course, rocking out. Huge outdoor summer festivals are a fan's dream and an environmentalist's nightmare, but the organizers of Bonnaroo, the crown jewel of summer festivals, have worked tirelessly to make sure their event left as little impact on the planet as possible.
This was the sixth year for the concert, and each year the organizers have improved the event’s environmental impact, says Richard Goodstone, head of Superfly Productions, the group behind Bonnaroo.
"I think we've always been conscious in general of our impact at the festival, but certainly as the interest has raised nationally and internationally, it's become more of a priority for us," says Goodstone.
From the beginning, the festival has offered recycling and composting options through a partnership with Clean Vibes, a company dedicated to managing and reducing solid waste at outdoor events. In just five years, the partnership has successfully diverted 500 tons of recyclable or compostable waste from landfills, and in 2006 alone it recycled 56 percent of all the waste generated at the festival.
This year, the Superfly team members have taken it to a whole new level. They bought 30,000 gallons of ethanol that powered the generators of all of the non-music stages, and another stage was powered entirely by solar energy. This year they also used 10 electric golf carts so organizers and stars could get around with zero emissions, and they used a fuel cell to power one of the Wi-Fi towers, thanks to a partnership with the Southern Fuel Cell Coalition.
Superfly also planned to keep more than 250 tons of waste out of landfills by recycling and composting, and all the food and beverage vendors used 100-percent compostable wraps, plates, cups and cutlery. The concert shirts were printed on organic cotton, and all the programs were printed on 30-percent post-consumer recycled paper. Even the toilet paper was made from post-consumer recycled paper.
And for the places where Superfly couldn't reduce its impact directly, they bought carbon offsets with the help of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation and Clif Bar. Clif Bar also helped fans purchase "Cool Tags," or renewable energy credits, in order to offset the emissions created getting to the concert.
Festival planners are also constantly on the lookout for new ways to green the festival. They recently purchased the land where the festival is held each year, and they plan to put in a permanent, renewable power source on site to provide all their energy needs. They also hope to add more electric golf carts to their fleet in the years to come.
For Goodstone and the rest of the folks at Superfly, minimizing the environmental impact is a top priority not just for the event itself, but also as a means to educate concert-goers and spread awareness to everyone involved.
"We've got an incredible platform to make a difference, and what we need right now are a lot of people making a difference, because of what a large issue global warming is," Goodstone says. "We want to be a leader, not just to be a leader, but so that other people can learn from us and say, 'Hey, we can do this. We can make a difference.' Hopefully that will be absorbed by our patrons and our artists."
Between the green goodness and the phenomenal lineup of artists —including the Police, Wilco, Damien Rice, Ziggy Marley and Demetri Martin — the festival was a crowd-pleaser.
jeudi, juin 28, 2007
Bonnaroo is an incredibly well choreographed event. The festival logistics boggle my mind. That the organizers added the extra challenge of making it a green festival re: their staging is admirable and in keeping with the roots of this hippie festival.