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Top 5 Music Festivals that are Going Green

4. Rothbury Festival, Michigan

The Rothbury Festival is not only on top of the pack with regard to greening initiatives, it has gained a reputation for being an innovator in sustainability projects. Its motto is to ‘throw a HUGE party with a purpose’. In addition to selling Green Tags to help offset festival-goers carbon output, Rothbury has invested in the Tatanka Wind Farm, the largest wind farm in the Dakotas, to offset its own staff and band members’ carbon air-print. 

Rothbury hosts the Sustainable Schools Program, partnering with local company to install two wind-turbines at local Michigan schools. They also run the Green Rocks! Contest, challenging local school children in grades 1-8 with the question, “How can you make your school or community more sustainable?” Classrooms submitted their ideas, ranging from live roofs to green building and winners and prizes were recently announced.

Other notable eco-initiatives at Rothbury include: the ‘V-Bike’ by Viability, an 8 person bicycle that generates renewable, carbon free power for an onsite digital recording studio; organic festival t-shirts; an annual food drive; and a cell phone recycling drive, where concert-goers can turn in old, unused mobile phones and in return get discount vouchers and a chance to win prizes.

Like the High Sierra Music Festival, Rothbury partners with Clifbar’s GreenNotes program to help reduce fan transportation impact by both promoting rideshares among fans and assisting touring bands with ways to reduce their eco-footprint.

5. Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, Tennessee

Camping at BonnarooBonnaroo is dedicated to being a leader in sustainable festivals. One of its primary guiding principles is “local is sustainable” and in 2008 it was one of just six festivals worldwide that received the top-category recognition of ‘Outstanding Greener Festival Award’ from A Greener Festival Awards (along with the other U.S. winner, Rothbury Festival in Wisconsin).

Among the many ways it is living up to that award are sourcing food vendors and suppliers locally, having over 2000 recycling bins, stages powered with biodiesel blends, the Less Bottled Water Program, and hosting a food drive that benefits the Good Samaritan Food Pantry in Manchester, TN. Find out more details about Bonnaroo’s green initiatives on Timothy Hurst’s post from last month: Bonnaroo, the Green(er) Summer Music Festival,

If you’ve been to a festival lately, you probably have seen the color-coded bins: green for compost, blue for recycling, and orange for landfill. This is the work of Clean Vibes, the premier waste manager for festivals, including Bonnaroo. They also partner with Lollapalooza, High Sierra, Outside Lands, Power to the People, and many other festivals, to manage waste streams, diverting tens of thousands of pounds of recyclables and compostable materials from the landfill.

While there is no doubt that there is still a long way to go on the path towards sustainability, these green initiatives are a welcome eco-step forward.

It is clear that music festivals are not only about fun, music, art, and community, but are also evolving into ways to empower people and educate about sustainability. So while your roaming summer music enjoyment can still be a shock to the wallet, it doesn’t have to be as big of a shock to the earth.

Photo Credits: Rothbury Recycling Bins–Beth and Christian; Rothbury recycling store–yacht_boy; High Sierra State– Five Low Notes; Bonnaroo Camping–kloppster; Bumbershoot–M.V. Jantzen

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