The Greening of the Summer Music Festivals

Lindsay Eanet

With the summer music festival season beginning to wind down post-Lollapalooza, the conversation over how to ensure these mega-music festivals are sustainable has resurfaced. High marks have been given to Michigan's Rothbury Festival, which has invested in the Tatanka Wind Farm to help reduce carbon use and costs and supports the Sustainable Schools Project. Chicago's Lollapalooza features the complex Rock and Recycle program, where festivalgoers were given cards with a series of sustainability-focused tasks on them ("take public transportation," "recycle a can," etc.) they could take to be stamped and enter to win a Honda Insight. This movement of greening music festivals has given way to a new trend -- music festivals which have sustainability as a core mission and message, not just an integrated facet. "Green music festivals" are popping up all over the country, with a few coming up at the end of this summer: Chicago's own Green Music Fest will take place this weekend (August 15th and 16th) in Eckhart Park. The festival will feature indie-rock headliners Art Brut, Tapes 'n' Tapes and Lucero along with a sidewalk sale focused on sustainable businesses and activities for kids and families. Students at Appalachian State University have come together to organize Music On the Mountaintop, a predominantly folk and bluegrass festival (Keller Williams and Sam Bush headline) created in partnership with the Appalachian Institute for Renewable Energy (AIRE). The festival, which takes place in Boone, North Carolina on August 29th, will feature solar-powered stages and a river cleanup the day before, as well as a "green village" with environmental nonprofit organizations providing information and opportunities for festivalgoers. New Orleans's Project 30-90 will take place Labor Day weekend 2009, with Ghostland Observatory and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals headlining. Billing itself as "the intersection between sound and sustainability," the festival is powered on wind and solar energy and includes paperless tickets. 30-90 also produced the Sustainability Summer Series, an array of free concerts only advertised via social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to avoid the costs or use of paper involved in traditional concert marketing.

Lindsay Eanet is an In These Times editorial intern and a journalism student at the University of Missouri.
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