Your Favorite Music Festivals Are Becoming More Eco-Friendly

Frank Tuner_Hepp
Courtesy of LJ Hepp

Most of us have great memories of our first music festivals years ago: piling in the car with a bunch of friends, singing along to your favorite bands, people watching all day, and maybe sharing burritos in the grass with that cute girl or guy. You didn’t mind the dust, the mud or the heat rash.

Ben Harper live
Courtesy of LJ Hepp

But things were a bit different in those days. Back then, there was no such thing as a “water station,” and bottles weren’t even allowed into most venues.

And after hours of blazing sun and dusty pits, it killed you to fork out $7 for a bottle of water. Of course, it was the point that someone was making a mint off our dire thirst. Not to mention, at the end of the show, you walked over thousands and thousands of plastic bottles that were likely never going to get recycled. (It definitely killed the vibe a bit, in our humble opinion.)

water refill station
Courtesy of BYOBottle

From an environmental perspective, live events have always been a difficult thing to create. On one hand, artists and activists can spread the message of sustainability to the masses. On the other, these events often leave a gigantic pile of waste. But this year, the Sustainable Concerts Working Group is looking to change the eco-footprint of your favorite events by engaging artists, venues, festivals and fans to eliminate single-use plastic and add some “green” to the music industry.

Jack Johnson_Hepp
Courtesy of LJ Hepp

The Sustainable Concerts Working Group is a collective of music industry leaders and environmental advocates who believe in an environmentally responsible and sustainably driven music community. They bring together experts to disseminate tools and resources that can help everyone from artists, venues, promoters and fans to do their part.

The latest push is called BYO Bottle, which seeks to eliminate the masses of single-use plastic water bottles and other inorganic waste, like straws.

Jack Johnson
Courtesy of LJ Hepp

At the forefront is surfer/artist/quality human being Jack Johnson. Johnson has pioneered his tours and shows to have less of an environmental impact. His organization has provided water refilling stations, pushing recycling and even offsetting emissions of fans traveling to shows.

“There is a powerful wave of momentum building to reduce plastic pollution,” says Johnson. “BYOBottle is a campaign that the entire music industry can unite around, and everyone I’ve been talking with is excited to join and be part of a solution. Expectations are changing around what makes a positive and successful music event, and sustainability is a huge part of that. I’m excited to help show what concerts can look like if artists work together with fans and venues or festivals to reduce plastic waste.”

Fan refill
Courtesy of BYOBottle

Johnson headlined Sea.Here.Now last September, a first-time event on the beach in Asbury Park, New Jersey, that featured surfing and art as well as a cast of surf-related musicians who care deeply about the environment. The festival was done by C3 Presents, which is doing a fantastic job of greening up their festivals. Sea.Here.Now helped pave the way for this summer’s campaign.

The campaign looks to engage the public about the use of plastics and the detriment they cause to the earth and sea. But this isn’t just about the message, it’s about walking the walk. The bands are traveling with reusable water bottles and asking venues to provide water refill stations.

However, the refill stations will likely have the most impact. When venues start sacrificing the money they are making on single-use water bottle sales, that creates a huge difference at the end of the day. Thirty Live Nation Venues across the country have made the BYOBottle Commitment.

You’ll see BYOBottle implemented at so many festivals this summer like Austin City Limits Music Festival, Sea.Hear.Now, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Surf City Blitz, Lollapaollooza, Sabroso Taco Festival, and Ohana Festival.

There’s a lot of education behind this. SGWS has tapped into the knowledge of Surfrider Foundation, 5 Gyres, Algalita and other non-profits in the outdoor world who have helped to craft messages and language that help explain the movement to venues, employees and festival goers.

Courtesy of BYOBottle

And if you’re wondering which artists are behind it, well there’s a massive list on their website. They include Ben Harper, Steven Van Zandt, Wilco, The Descendents, Bob Weir, Dead & Company, Jackson Browne, Doug E Fresh, The Lumineers, P.O.S. and Steve Earle, not to mention about 170 others. We all know the influence that artists have over the way we live our lives, and this summer, they aim to bring this message to their shows.

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