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These festivals aren’t just about good music and good times—they are also environmentally conscious.

Photo by Jeff Kravitz, FilmMagic, for Bonnaroo Arts and Music Festival

These festivals aren’t just about good music and good times—they are also environmentally conscious.

Music festivals are spectacular events that draw huge crowds every summer, which means they inevitably leave a footprint—from rubbish left by attendees to the energy it takes to run the festival.

Fortunately, there are people looking to make festivals more environmentally friendly. A non-profit called A Greener Festival provides online resources to festivals and festival-goers on how to limit their environmental impact. It also gives out annual Greener Festival Awards that recognises the festivals that show a commitment to sustainability. Here are five recent honorees that continue to lead the way in green-minded festival initiatives.

We Love Green
Where: Paris, France
When: Early June
Green Efforts: The name says it all. This eco-friendly rock festival prioritizes the environment alongside great music. The most recent festival, held at Bois de Vincennes on the eastern edge of Paris, featured an impressive lineup of artists from around the world, including PJ Harvey, LCD Soundsystem and Diplo. Solar and wind-powered stages are nestled between towering, tall, green trees; totems of this natural festival’s eco-friendly intentions. Each stage is beautifully constructed from recyclable material and all the food is locally sourced, much of it created by hip Paris restaurateurs, like Pierre Sang Boyer. What really makes We Love Green unique, however, is its Think Tank stage. Residing in the middle of festival grounds, this year’s Think Tank featured panels, open forums and workshops focused on sustainability, giving festival-goers a richer understanding of the issues at hand.

Welcome to the Future
Where: Landsmeer, Netherlands
When: Late July
Green Efforts: One of the pioneer festivals for underground electronic music, Welcome to the Future is held at the beautiful nature preserve Het Twiske, just north of Amsterdam. With 100% organic food, free water bars and decorations made only of recycled materials, Welcome to the Future presents a model of consumption for festivals. Designated “Green Teams” rove the grounds, picking up trash and providing helpful advice to concertgoers on how to make their experience as eco-friendly as possible. Even getting to the festival can be green—about 7,000 fans bike to the event each year.


Photo by Andrew Jorgensen

Where: Manchester, Tennessee, United States
When: Early June
Green Efforts: Held on 700-acre farm in Tennessee, Bonnaroo is one of the most popular music festivals in North America. Since its founding in 2002, artists from Bob Dylan to the Police to Kanye West have performed on the Bonnaroo stage. But as it website states, “We don’t just want to be the best festival. We aspire to be the greenest festival—and set the standard in sustainability and greening practices for North American concert events.” The festival has won a Greener Festival Award in every year of the prize’s existence. By contracting with Clean Vibes, an on-site waste management firm for festivals, Bonnaroo diverted more than 197 tons of waste from landfills at last year’s event. The festival also features Planet Roo, its “haven for sustainability and global consciousness.” There, festival-goers can drop in and discuss ways to effect social change and make sustainable choices.

Where: Somerset, England
When: Late June
Green Efforts: One of the world’s most renowned festivals also happens to be one of the greenest. Since its founding in 1970, the Glastonbury Festival has cared about sustainability and the Earth. Today it attracts nearly 200,000 people every year, making it a tall order to be green, but it has stayed true to its founding principles. Organizers ask festival-goers to pledge to a “zero waste” policy, taking home everything that they bring with them, including tents and sleeping bags. As for the waste that is created, the festival recycles more than half of it, thanks in part to a crew of volunteers. Another recent innovation is the introduction of locally-made steel pint cups that help minimize cup waste. In addition, Glastonbury has adopted hybrid generators, while some areas of the site run entirely on solar power and clean energy. Most notably, it takes a ‘Hallow’ year off once every five years so its host site, Worthy Farm, can properly recover.

Island Vibe
Stradbrooke Island, Australia
When: Late October
Green Efforts: A reggae festival that truly engages festival-goers in its sustainability mission, this year Island Vibe let fans choose between four ways in which the festival would seek to offset its carbon emissions. Voters chose renewable energy, and so Island Vibe partnered with Southern Cross University to power one of its stages using a solar sunflower. It’s just one of several progressive environmental solutions undertaken by Island Vibes in recent years. Among others is the use of composting toilets, which use almost no water, helping to eliminate odors and produce a rich compost.

[Photo credit: Bonnaroo by Andrew Jorgensen}

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