Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Summer Festivals...Sustainable or Not?

Everywhere I look, I see advertisements for "sustainable" festivals this summer.  The word, sustainable, is a big draw for the type of demographic which as both the time and money to attend events. However, it seems to be a buyer-beware situation.

In many cases, after significant research, I really can't see much in the way of environmentally responsible practices. For example (the names have been left off to protect the innocent/guilty):

  • A festival that promotes itself as green because it is holding a motorized race through huge inflatable objects as they are is powered by biodiesel instead of diesel like last year.
  • The sustainable wine festival which promotes sustainable wine just a portion of the vendor options and while featuring tastings in small plastic cups in an county unable to recycle them.
  • One festival proudly reported they purchased carbon offsets for the artist transportation and called it green.  No mention of recycling, car pooling, or minimizing bottled water use.
  • Another event donated canned food brought by festival-goers to a local food bank but did nothing to mitigate the huge amount of disposables used by vendors.

There are also festivals which are really working hard to be more sustainable such as Pickathon, The Big Green Music Festival, and Lollapalooza to name just a few.

My point is this,as you enjoy events this summer, ask yourself which elements make this festival green and which don't.  Learn from what you witness and apply it to your own events.  This time from the perspective of a guest.

If you manage a sustainable festival,The Natural Step has developed a Sustainable Music Festivals Guidebook to help you get started.

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