The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday January 30th

Get your green ?x at music festivals

	<p>Holly Beilin</p>
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Holly Beilin

Since Woodstock, music festivals have been huge crowd pleasers, allowing fans to condense the experience of a dozen concerts, along with the chance to meet artists and maybe enjoy some adult (occassionally illegal) activities, into a few exhilarating days.

But while the music festival’s purpose is the same, much has changed since Woodstock.

First of all, the frequency of festivals has multiplied. Though Woodstock attracted half a million at its peak, it only lasted a few days in one place.

Nowadays there are several mega festivals, plus dozens of smaller ones across the country.

These events seem to be eco-disasters: they guzzle huge amounts of energy to power instruments, speakers and light displays, generate heaps of waste and create tons of emissions from fans traveling from far and wide.

However, festival organizers are wising up to their impact and trying to please the planet along with music fanatics.

Many festivals now use sustainable energy sources like wind, solar or bio-diesel. Outside Lands in San Francisco featured the largest solar-powered stage in the country in 2013. Over the three-day event, the stage avoided the CO2 emissions equivalent to the carbon released in burning 216 gallons of gasoline. Bonnaroo became the first festival with a permanent solar array, which can generate the equivalent of 20 percent of Bonnaroo’s power consumption each year.

Festivals are minimizing waste through the old three R’s mantra: reduce, reuse, recycle. Several have added compost and recycling bins next to trashcans. At Outside Lands, all of the food containers and utensils are compostable and biodegradable. In 2012 the festival reported a 75 percent diversion rate with 87 tons of compost and recycling.

A major benefit of pairing environmentalism with music is making the movement more fun. One of the most innovative projects is Outside Land’s “Clean Vibes Trading Post.” It rewards concertgoers for collecting cans, bottles and other material with prizes such as organic clothing, band merchandise and food vouchers.

Festivals, always a great marketing opportunity for big brands, are now a market for green causes. One dollar from every 2013 Bonnaroo ticket went to a solar-powered sustainable farm and Outside Lands hosts a Beach Clean Up.

And although these super-sized festivals draw the largest crowds, green efforts are not limited to national events.

Carrboro Music Festival, a free event held this past weekend, got into the eco-spirit by offering a bio-diesel shuttle bus to cut down on travel emissions. Children used recycled materials to create art, and the provided compost and recycling bins were overflowing.

One of the great things about music is a capacity to inspire. The green movement can take advantage of this by turning festivals into forums for education and motivation.

After all, if we want to keep enjoying our outdoor music festivals, we can’t just pave paradise and put up a parking lot…

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