The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is once again stampeding toward the Tennessee valley with cruise missile speed, and the environmental dogma of the holy hippie is at the helm to reduce the carbon footprint and potential sinister vibes that the crowd of 80,000 will produce.
Fans from the world of music and youth culture love Manchester for the culture that does not exist in the city. For one weekend out of the year a little underground swagger is brought into a town that totes a Wall mart as the cities entertainment mecca. Locals sometimes grumble but no one can blame them. The freak parade that rummages the town for a few days out the year will leave behind a blurred haze of sex and rock and roll and freedom that not all locals are hip to yet.
With a crowd that blurs the lines between a chaotic war zone with both sides on peace tranquilizers along with a commune crop share mentality of pot and toilets, the festival has become an experiment for using environmental ideas on a smaller scale from say a city. And it has worked. Since 2002 when Bonnaroo started, each summer environmental business owner have proven they know how to please a crowd. From Clean Vibes to SustainU, this year the festival has a few ideas for kindred spirits to increase environmental awareness and action.
1. DIVERTING WASTE FROM LANDFILLS
Even a guy that can go three days without eating produces more waste than he could imagine. Volunteers who want free tickets and have a knack for handling post Roo grime know all too well what it means to be involved with Clean Vibes. It seems each year someone finds a dead guy. But to be a part of this select group of fortune seekers or trash miners, volunteers must be ready to work hard and keep their eye open for potential. A lucky left over drug find is often celebrated but even more useful, the waste that litters the ground can be used for energy creation. The recycling and composting program is aggressive. Since 2002,over 3 million pounds of festival waste have been diverted from landfills. Over 1 million cups, cans and bottles have been turned into the Clean Vibes Trading Post since it opened in 2008, with 290,000 handed over in 2011 alone. Also in 2011, Clean Vibes generated 750 cubic yards of compost, 167 tons of recycled goods, over 8 tons of waste cooking oil was collected for processing into bio-diesel fuel and over 3 tons of leftover food was donated to local food shelves.
This waste is brought to local recycling centers for processing and later re use. Bonnaroo should possibly think about working with Terracycle. The innovative upcycling company that tranforms non recyclable waste into consumer products.
2. OFFERING RIDE SHARE TO AND FROM THE FESTIVAL
This year, for the first time, Bonnaroo is partnering with Zimride to offer a ride share program to fans. Zimride is an online carpooling service that shares the Bonnaroo concept of community building while reducing the carbon footprint by lessening the amount of cars that travel to the festival. Not only does this save on gas money, but signing up for a ride means making possible new friends that may share similar affinities of a good time. 650 ride shares have been confirmed so far.
3. MORE WATERFOUNTAINS. WE GET THIRSTY!
It is about time. Each year the fountain lines are long enough that walking back to a campsite for water seems like a more reasonable option. This year Bonnaroo is increasing the number of much needed water refill stations on site. All of the water on site that is not for sale is drinkable local well water. Let’s hope the earth is not sucked dry before Sunday rolls around.
4. CLEAN ENERGY TO POWER CIMEMA TENT
Nonprofit carbon-offset company CREx will be bringing the Tower of Power to Bonnaroo. This is a mobile solar generator that will add an additional solar/renewable power source to Planet Roo. It will supplement the power to the ever-evolving Planet Roo Cinema tent. In the tent, the coolest kids will have a chance to watch documentaries that address a number of social and environmental issues. This will be the place to be for a cool down.
5. NON TOXIC CLOTHING
The festival is also initiating a new partnership with SustainU in order to provide over 12,000 t-shirts for the Bonnaroo staff produced from recycled materials and organic cotton. Over the last year, in an effort to highlight the importance of supporting sustainable businesses such as SustainU, Bonnaroo supported a number of clothing drives at universities across the country.
Last year was the tenth anniversary and this summer’s festival will be setting the pace for the rest of the next decade. Every year complainers wag their heads about the potential of sell out culture moving into the festival. Well that sucks for them. As long as the companies that work with Bonnoroo have environmental stewardship in their mission then bring them on. It is a reward to recycle and use environmental products because knowledge is power and companies that allow citizens to help create energy that will run the planet, then cheers to them.