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We love festivals! Jazz festivals, vegan festivals, wellness festivals, and music festivals are all awesome.
But how sustainable are music festivals and is the planet paying for our groovy, good times?
Well, with thousands of music events held around the globe each year (at least, in non-Covid years) there’s no easy answer to this question.
What we can say, however, is that many major acts are now putting the planet first.
Sustainability has increasingly become important to touring musicians and is included more and more as part of their rider in their touring programs. Many are taking the first steps toward making music festivals more sustainable.
Canada’s Barenaked Ladies have been insisting on eco-friendly tours since 2004. They ensure that the food served backstage is organic and that their supplies are fully biodegradable. They even run their 18-wheelers on biodiesel!
Scotland’s KT Tunstall has gone carbon neutral and donates cash to renewable energy programs in Sri Lanka too. She says, “The worst thing I’ve ever done to the environment is to wee in the sea!”
Phish are serious players in the sustainable music scene and they’ve been leveraging their touring to make the world more environmentally aware.
They run a charitable foundation, The WaterWheel Foundation, which makes donations to sustainability causes (they’ve given away over $500,000 so far!).
They also get their fans to travel light, use a green crew to ensure that they leave no footprint after touring and encourage ride sharing, car pooling and staying in eco-friendly quarters.
It may well be that Phish is the vision of the future of sustainable music events.
So, for reals – how sustainable are music festivals? For now? The answer is… mostly not that sustainable.
However, with many major artists (we’ve only touched the surface here) committed to making touring and festivals more sustainable, we think that the future for live music is bright, indeed.
There’s no good reason that a good time should hurt the planet and in the long-term, as long as we all play the part, it’s likely that it won’t.