The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is now celebrating its tenth installment as a leading model of the environmentally friendly concert event. Since its inception in 2002, the festival has spearheaded aggressive sustainability initiatives and outreach programs to reduce its impact on the earth and encourage fans to embrace eco-conscious lifestyles throughout the year. Bonnaroo is the only four-time U.S. recipient of “A Greener Festival” award, the international standard for environmentally efficient music festivals. “We take a lot of pride in being ahead of the curve in terms of environmental innovation on site,” says festival organizer Rich Goodstone. “But there’s a larger picture to look at here, where we’re making a difference in the lives of the thousands who come to Bonnaroo every year.” With decreasing quantities of trash leaving the site and increasing quantities of power, water, food and supplies streaming straight from its Tennessee home, Bonnaroo is moving ever closer to the sustainability ideal its fan base supports.
Bonnaroo’s aggressive recycling and composting program has diverted a total of 1370 tons of festival waste from landfills over the life of the event. Its famous Clean Vibes crew has worked tirelessly to collect trash and encourage fans, through contesting and other good-will initiatives, to take care of the Tennessee farm the festival has called home for almost a decade. In 2003, Bonnaroo became the first American music festival to require compostable supplies at concession areas. That same year, Planet Roo debuted as the festival’s “green village,” now featuring a solar-powered performance stage and reps from dozens of political and environmental organizations who provide activities, contests and information that further the earth-loving values of the Bonnaroo community.
Local sourcing and carbon reduction have also become an ongoing tradition for the eco-forward festival. Since purchasing the festival’s farmland in 2006, organizers have made significant permanent site improvements, installing solar panels and other power facilities that virtually eliminate the need for biodiesel fuel. Bonnaroo now plugs directly into the local Duck River grid and, since 2008, uses hybrid and electric cars to cut down on emissions for security and staff transportation (the festival has used security horses since its inception). Furthermore, organizers encourage vendors to source foods and other supplies locally. The festival even has its own green building, a straw bale structure erected in 2008, and Victory Garden, which debuted in 2009, featuring foods nourished by its own compost heap. During the event, the garden becomes an education tool to demonstrate sustainable gardening as well as a supply source for popular “local food dinners” at the Planet Roo CafÃ©. A postcard campaign launched in 2010 to promote community gardening among fans year round.
Leading by example has always been an important part of Bonnaroo’s earth-saving philosophy. The festival’s aggressive outreach programs incite fans to strive for the sustainable lifestyle ideal. This year, representatives from Urban Land Scouts will award badges to patrons for green actions on site, integrating with returning organization Carbon Shredders, who have educated Bonnaroo fans on how to reduce their individual carbon footprint year round since 2008. For the first time ever, Bonnaroo ticketing will be completely paperless, and as always, carpooling contests will encourage fans to reduce their emissions on their journey to and from the festival. Once again, Bonnaroo “Trash Talkers” will be on site, stationed near trash receptacles to educate patrons about how to separate and reduce waste, while First World Trash Bags will be selling bags made out of discarded tents from past years.
For a complete list of Bonnaroo greening initiatives, visit: