Is Festival Sustainability Working?

January 28, 2016 - By: Sarah Hovis

 Each year, thousands of music lovers travel all over the country to festivals for a chance to see amazing performances by must-see artists like
Pearl Jam and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. In 2015,
Coachella hosted nearly 200,000 people over its two-weekend run, while
Lollapalooza hit the 300,000 mark during its three days. That’s not only a lot of people, that’s a lot of trash. And while most festivals have some form of sustainability initiative (including
Coachella and
Lollapalooza) the real question has become, are they working? Last year,
Jarno Stegeman, founder of
The Event Tutor looked at the
Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival and
Lightning in a Bottle festivals* to see
‘how festival attendees experience sustainability policies of live events in North America.’ The research was supported by both festivals, along with
A Greener Festival. Specifically, they wanted to uncover if attendees were aware of the policies, if they understood their meaning, and if they genuinely cared about the policies. Here is what part of the research showed:
Recycling: Bonnaroo recycling was rated at 98 percent good/really good, while Lightning in a Bottle received a 94 percent rating.
Signage: Attendees at both festivals made an effort to separate their trash and having volunteers on hand helped make the process quicker. However, Lightning in a Bottle attendees (24 percent) and Bonnaroo attendees (21 percent) said onsite signage could be better.
Car sharing: Both festivals actively
promote carpooling on their websites. Fifty percent of Bonnaroo fans carpooled with 2.2 festivalgoers per car, while 59 percent of Lightning in a Bottle attendees indicated they carpooled with 2.5 average of festivalgoers per car. A festival creates a perfect opportunity to educate people on the issues of sustainability and raise awareness, which means organizers need to effectively communicate their policies so attendees know how they can contribute. Tell us in the comments how important you feel it is for a festival to have a solid sustainability plan. * The results were compared to research studies conducted by A Greener Festival and Buckinghamshire New University in 2008 and 2012. The questionnaire consisted of 22 questions (eight open questions); 282 questionnaires collected at Bonnaroo and 180 at Lightning in a Bottle. Photo via: 
Green Up Music