Since Woodstock, the music festival has evolved into a hedonistic rite of passage in which young adults—many wishing they’d come of age in the ‘60s—revel in sex, drugs, and rock ’n roll for a long weekend. Then they tuck their dusty sandals into cars and motor away, leaving behind overflowing port-a-potties and fields of trampled plastic cups. Not exactly the careful environmental stewardship one might expect of people hoping to live on this planet for most of the coming century.
But we can’t blame neo-hippies for the whole mess. It’s the people who plan (and profit from) festivals that have the power to initiate earth-friendly practices full-scale. And as Sami Grover reports for Treehugger (May 6, 2013), a few of them are doing just that.
The UK’s Shambala Festival—probably the leader in the green-festival arena—is almost entirely powered by renewable energy. In addition, it closes the loop on the nutrient cycle with composting outhouses. Way Out West in Sweden has nixed meat vending in an effort to keep its ecological footprint low. In Barcelona, Summercase asks festival-goers to put a deposit down on a reusable cup, returnable for recycling at the party’s end. And at Virginia’s FloydFest, drinks are served in stainless steel pint glasses, which can be purchased for $6 and reused at the festival for years to come.
Some efforts even reach beyond the festival grounds. Coachella offers a ride-sharing board for would-be carpoolers, while Bonnaroo schools its captive audience on issues from the global water crisis to the benefits of gardening.
Most of these venues still have a long way to go, but they’ve certainly demonstrated a willingness to change. With more urging from concert-goers, the average music festival could become a place that would do the hippies of Woodstock proud.