The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, celebrating its 11th year as a leader in environmentally friendly concert events, is once again spearheading aggressive new initiatives that raise the bar in shrinking the carbon footprint of one of the largest, most popular festivals in the country. Since its inception in 2002, Bonnaroo has pioneered sustainability initiatives and outreach programs to reduce its impact on the earth and encourage fans to embrace eco-conscious lifestyles throughout the year. The festival is the only five-time U.S. recipient of “A Greener Festival” award, the international standard for environmentally efficient music festivals, and continues to look for new ways to improve year to year.
“We work very hard every year on figuring out how to not only create new initiatives that lessen our impact, but also on educating and encouraging our fans to take these ideas home with them,” said festival co-founder, Superfly’s Richard Goodstone.
Bonnaroo’s aggressive recycling and composting program has diverted over 3 million pounds of festival waste from landfills since 2002. Over 1 million cups, cans and bottles have been turned into the Clean Vibes Trading Post since it opened in 2008, with 290,000 handed over in 2011 alone. Also in 2011, Clean Vibes generated 750 cubic yards of compost, 167 tons of recycled goods, over 8 tons of waste cooking oil was collected for processing into biodiesel fuel and over 3 tons of leftover food was donated to local food shelves in the festival’s home state of Tennessee.
This year, for the first time, Bonnaroo is partnering with Zimride to offer a rideshare program to the fans. Zimride is an online carpooling service that shares the Bonnaroo concept of community building while reducing the carbon footprint by lessening the amount of cars that travel to the festival. Not only is it a way of giving back to the environment, it’s a way of making new friends before the festival even begins. 650 rideshares have been confirmed so far.
Another new improvement is that Bonnaroo is increasing the number of water refill stations on site. This program started three years ago, and each year, festival organizers take a serious look at how to ensure easy and plentiful hydration for the fans. All of the water on site that is not for sale is drinkable local well water.
Also, nonprofit carbon-offset company CREx will be bringing the Tower of Power to Bonnaroo. This is a mobile solar generator that will add an additional solar/renewable power source to Planet Roo. It will supplement the power to the ever-evolving Planet Roo Cinema tent. In the tent, patrons will have a chance to watch documentaries that address a number of social and environmental issues. The festival is also initiating a new partnership with SustainU in order to provide over 12,000 t-shirts for the Bonnaroo staff produced from recycled materials and organic cotton. Over the last year, in an effort to highlight the importance of supporting sustainable businesses such as SustainU, Bonnaroo supported a number of clothing drives at universities across the country.
The Bonnaroo organizers are thrilled that Eco-Products is their newest sustainability partner. For the past five years, festival patrons, staff, and artists have been eating off these totally compostable products. Since that time, Clean Vibes has sent over 296,000 pounds of Eco Products to the compost pile. Composting all of its cutlery and serving ware is one of Bonnaroo’s proudest accomplishments.
Leading by example has always been an important part of Bonnaroo’s philosophy. The festival’s aggressive outreach programs look to incite fans to strive for the sustainable and eco-conscious lifestyle ideal needed in modern society.