Bonnaroo Announces New Environmental Initiatives for this Year's Festival

The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is proud to announce exciting strides in its longstanding sustainability tradition. New initiatives are in place for the 2010 event, set to take place June 10-13 on the same beautiful farm in Manchester, Tennessee. By showing patrons how a sustainable community functions, the festival is causing a shift in consciousness among music fans. Through last year’s Green Ticket program, 50 percent of ticket buyers opted to contribute to sustainable site improvements, a strong indication that the Bonnaroo community supports the concept of a green festival. This year, organizers hope to extend the influence beyond the festival weekend, sending fans home with fresh inspiration for year-round sustainable lifestyles. “Our goal is to influence the decisions patrons can make to create healthy communities at home,” says sustainability coordinator Laura Sohn. “It’s all about behaviour change. We want fans to think beyond just sorting their trash.”

This year, the festival will enhance its burgeoning Victory Garden powered by Gardener’s Supply, an area created to urge patrons to take control of food supply in their home communities. Nurtured by the festival’s onsite water well and compost heap, the garden represents a new level of sustainability for the Bonnaroo community. Patrons can visit throughout the weekend to learn about heirloom gardening, community building and buying local. Classes on gardening basics, seed saving, and mushroom logs will take place, offering attendees tips, seeds and other starter supplies to take home and plant their own gardens. “The Victory Garden was a natural step,” says Chris Crowell, director of vendor relations, noting that Bonnaroo was the first major American music festival to require compostable supplies at concession areas. “We had this huge compost pile and we just thought it made sense to plant a garden. And it also made sense to do workshops about composting, gardening, how you can do those things on your own.” This year, Bonnaroo will celebrate closing the sustainability loop with sit-down dinners at the popular Planet Roo Café, where patrons will be served regional products, supplemented by foods from the Bonnaroo Victory Garden.

Environmental programs begun at Bonnaroo in the past are still going strong, as ongoing site improvements allow the festival to better utilize resources in its vicinity. The festival continues to purchase as many supplies and utilities from its own Tennessee area as possible, and even provides a list of regional food purveyors strongly recommended to all festival vendors. Electricity facilities installed for the 2009 season allow the festival to plug directly into the local Duck River grid, reducing generator use by 70 percent and virtually eliminating the festival’s need for biodiesel fuel. Plans for future sustainability projects include a solar array to power the festival and supply energy for the Tennessee Valley Authority grid throughout the year. With 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.

As always, Bonnaroo will run an extensive recycling and composting program in partnership with Clean Vibes, an organization that diverts over half of the festival’s total volume of waste from landfills. Educational signage and “trash talkers” will coach patrons on which kinds of trash belong in which bins at the festival. (An increase in trash talkers in 2009 resulted in diverting three times the compost from the landfill as in previous years.) Fans can also bring bags of recyclables and compostables collected onsite to the Trading Post to exchange for rewards such as artist memorabilia, vendor vouchers and other prizes.

Bonnaroo 2010 also brings back the popular Planet Roo village, an area dedicated to preserving the environment and promoting healthy living. Non-profit organizations, eco-friendly vendors and performers will gather there to educate patrons about what they can do to enhance their own health as well as the planet’s. Fans who stop by Planet Roo will have the chance to learn about alternative fuels and energy sources, eat organic food at a waste-free restaurant and hear festival artists discuss topics related to the environment. Representatives from dozens of organizations such as the Bonnaroo Carbon Shredders, Headcount, Rock the Earth, Gulf Restoration Network and Oxfam America will interact with fans and artists to raise awareness about environmental and political issues.

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