Get Your Green Groove On

E's Guide to the Summer's Greenest Festivals

Bob Dylan headlines this year"s Bumbershoot festival in Seattle, Washington—a festival that"s 100% carbon-neutral.

It's the middle of summer and the collective heat wave is upon us. But outdoor musical festivals are staying cool by not only showcasing a diverse cast of top perfomers, but by encouraging musicians and fans alike to keep their fests green, and to leave the lightest footprints possible.

Gathering of the Vibes— Bridgeport, CT

The Gathering of the Vibes Festival in Bridgeport, CT, running from July 29 through August 1, aims to reduce its carbon footprint and expand its recycling and composting programs to produce a 100% zero-waste event. Vibes uses carbon offsets in order to achieve a "carbon-neutral" festival.Volunteers are welcome to join the Green Vibes Carbon Cutters team to offset carbon emissions as well. Other Green Vibes volunteers pick up trash during and after the event. A great and eco-friendly way to get free tickets to the show!

Other steps Vibes takes to stay green include ensuring that beverage and food vendors use all compostable supplies and products. Vibes donates all its unused food to local food banks and soup kitchens.

The onstage artists who play their part in the green festivities include a roundup of hippie favorites, including Furthur with Phil Lesh and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, who opened the Rex Foundation dedicated to environmental causes, as well as Damien Marley (performing with hip-hop artist Nas), a known green activist.

Additionally, catching solar waves by the shore at this spacious seaport festivals" grounds is as easy as paying a visit to the solar-powered cell phone charging station and the Solar Bus. This retired school bus runs on vegetable oil and has solar panels embellishing its roof. www.gatheringofthevibes.com.


Peats Ridge—Glenworth Valley, Australia

The winner of the Greener Festival Award 2010, Peats Ridge will be held on Dec 29, 2010 through January 1, 2011. Last year, Peats Ridge won the Faster Louder Festival Award for Most Sustainable Festival in Australia. In 2008, Peats Ridge also won the NSW Government's Green Globe award for being a leader of sustainability.

Why all the accolades? The festival boasts an Ecoliving Village which offers presentations and workshops on environmental issues. And at their Solar Powered Outdoor Cinema, dinner and documentaries come together nightly.

Peats Ridge also walks the talk by using 100% biodiesel generators, odor-free composting toilets and water management. And then there are the performers. They've got a long list of international DJs, bands and beat-makers off the beaten track including Jeff Lang, Mama Kin, Ripperton, Jack Ladder, Telepathe and the Strides. Cool festival highlights include a Boardi Space, this year focused on the humpback whale, a central location for dance, art and storytelling that lets visitors add their stories to a collective glowing lantern. www.peatsridgefestival.com


Bumbershoot— Seattle, WA

Bumbershoot is a music, arts and environment festival celebrating 40 years of entertainment. Compost stations throughout the festival grounds in 2009 resulted in recycling 7.5 tons of waste, and decreasing garbage by 2.7 tons from 2007. And their musical line-up is great, too. Bob Dylan rocks the fest this year, along with the Decemberists and Mary J. Blige, running September 4-6.

In order to offset other wastes such as carbon emissions from artists and attendees that travel to the grounds, Bumbershoot teamed up with Green Mountain Energy Company. The company will run 300 kilowatt hours of power when attendees purchase their tickets with a carbon offset. For $3 extra, wattage equal to around 400 pounds of C02 will be displaced!

Bumbershoot remains 100% carbon neutral due to the attendees" donations offsetting approximately 963,000 lbs of CO2 emissions. This has the same effect as "not driving a car over 875,000 miles, recycling more than 385,000 pounds of newspaper or planting over 1,450 trees" according to festival organizers. www.bumbershoot.org


Lilith Fair—US & Canada

Founded by Sarah McLachlan, Lilith Fair runs from June 27 to August 3. Lilith Fair is a "who's who" for women in the music industry—featuring Beth Orton, Cat Power, Erykah Badu, Loretta Lynn and Sheryl Crow this year—and has provided a way for McLachlan to combine her environmental advocacy with her music. In past years, Lilith has raised over $10 million dollars for national and local charities including environmental justice funds.

And by teaming up with the nonprofit Reverb, greening has become standard practice for the tour. Performers use only biodiesel tour buses, food is sold in biodegradable containers and carbon offsets are purchased to further reduce waste. www.lilithfair.com

And look out for these other top green fests in early summer 2011!

"World Fest is an annual gathering that brings artists, musicians, comedians and activists under one roof to explore environmental novelties. Nestled in Woodley Park, California, World Fest provides green-goers opportunities to volunteer, check out the local organic food scene, swap vegetarian recipes and listen to great music. www.worldfestevents.com

"Bonaroo is all about music and green activism and making it easy for the audience to volunteer and join green groups on-site. Be a part of making the Earth a better place by joining the Carbon Cutters" Team or The Seed Savers who stress the importance of disseminating pre-industrialized "heirloom" plants. Gardener sessions on-site will teach the rules of having a "green thumb." Grow your own mushrooms to bring home and learn the complexities of composts. For a day of education, inspiration and cutting-edge musical talents, check out www.bonaroo.com.

Go green fests!