13 Years of Green
The very first day we set foot on the farm, we made a commitment to keep the hallowed land clean and green. As we grew, our footprint of responsibility did too. Like switchgrass seeds in the wind, our commitment hopped the walls of the festival grounds, and into Manchester and beyond. Today we’re more ecologically responsible than ever before. Read on for some highlights from our 13-year green history on the farm.
Jump to a year!
• In the beginning, there was the farm, and we wanted to keep it pristine. So we acquired our own site lighting and rented poles locally, reducing our reliance on trucking, cutting about 500 miles of truck emissions per year.
• This is also when we began mounting our security team on horseback. This provided safer crowd control and reduced motor vehicles on site.
• Hello: Clean Vibes. Long waste management all stars at music events across the country, Clean Vibes has been with us from day 1, helping us minimize waste. At Bonnaroo 1, Clean Vibes diverted 113 tons of biodegradable waste that would have otherwise been sent to a landfill.
• We began running an innovative recycling raffle. Incentivized citizen-powered trash collection and sorting. The recycling raffle ran until 2008.
• Clean Vibes continues their good work, diverting 75 tons of recyclables from the landfill.
• All cups compostable. This is the year we became the first festival in the country that requires vendors purchase cups that get along with ground.
• Nonprofits on site. About half-a-dozen 501(c)’s made themselves at home on the farm.
• We settled in, making the farm more efficient for the long haul. We purchased our own stage lighting, reducing trucking, and putting power consumption in our own hands.
• Clean Vibes diverts 120 tons of recycling from the landfill.
• Planet Roo makes its debut, gathering break dancers, belly dancers, and 11 nonprofits near a solar-powered stage. Planet Roo was and is one of our proudest very ‘Roo achievements.
• An agreement is reached with food vendors to use compostable food service items.
• Clean Vibes implements pilot composting program
• After 3 years of testing, in 2005 we started using biodiesel in various generators installed across the festival grounds.
• Clean Vibes diverts 80 tons of recyclables from the landfill.
• Planet Roo grows to include 13 non-profits.
• We bought the farm. This was a big deal. Owning the land allowed us to take charge of our green destiny. Composting on site, solar, the haybale building, the learning garden… the list goes on. None of it would have been possible if the farm wasn’t ours. Now it is.
• We get more specific with our stats, collecting 10.63 tons of compost and 73.49 tons of recycling. In total, 202.96 tons of waste was put somewhere more productive than a landfill in 2006.
• A golf cart share program goes into effect, helping us significantly reduce the number of carts on site.
• Vendors are required to buy and use only compostable serving products.
• Culture can be sustainable, too. Now introducing The Academy, a learning environment where Bonnaroo guests can enroll in dance, theatre, and art class inside Planet Roo.
• The Green Pod debuts in the campground. The message of sustainability finally has a home outside of Planet Roo.
• Clean Vibes keeps padding its stats, this time collecting 10.3 tons of compost, 47.17 tons of recycling, and diverting a total of 300.2 tons of waste from the landfill.
• Planet Roo hits it capacity with 23 nonprofits.
• Movie tent Planet Documentaries debuts, showcasing a slate of green-centric films to inspire Bonnaroovians to think more about our earth impact.
• The Green ambassador program is created, empowering volunteers with a platform to spread the word on sustainability.
• We receive our first A Greener Festival Award for greening and sustainability practices. It wouldn’t be our last. We’ve won the award every year since. No other US festival can say the same.
• Staff vehicles go green as we rent as many flex fuel and hybrid cars as we can.
• The Trash Talkers. Manned trash collection stations go into effect, augmenting our ability to collect and sort waste.
• Enter the Carbon Shredders, a year-round education partnership between Bonnaroo and fans to reduce our carbon footprint.
• First ever carpool contest. Contests enourage people to do stuff. Good stuff.
• We close the loop on compostable waste, building our very own compost pad, which is still thriving to this day.
• We go paperless for backstage ticketholders.
• Clean Vibes saves 10 tons of compost, and diverts a total of 81.79 tons of recycling from the landfill.
• We commission the construction of a straw bale structure in Planet Roo. Straw has little nutritional value, it’s resistant to decomposition, and it has superb insulating properties. Straw is the future. You saw it at Bonnaroo first.
• We hire a full-time sustainability coordinator. (Hi Laura!)
• We receive our second A Greener Festival Award for greening and sustainability practices.
• Exchange your recyclables for prizes. The Clean Vibes Trading Post makes its debut.
• Big green moves: In 2009 Bonnaroo became permanently hooked into the local Duck River electric grid. This allowed us to reduce our reliance on inefficient generators, going from 95 to just 35, 7 of which were never used. It also allowed us to purchase green credits for the first time ever.
• Gardens are forever. We establish the Bonnaroo Learning Garden, a place to re-teach modern mankind how to live off the earth.
• Less bottle-trash. More self-sufficiency. We improve wells and install water stations across the festival grounds where fans can refill bottles
• You like green, you really like green. 40% of Bonnaroo fans contribute to the first ever Green Ticket Opt-In, ensuring our sustainability initiatives expand into the future.
• No mo’ foam. Styrofoam is eliminated from staff and backstage areas.
• Clean Vibes helps us collect 30 tons of compost, and diverts 127.74 tons of recycling from the landfill. We’re not done yet.
• We win our third A Greener Festival Award for greening and sustainability practices.
• Even fewer water bottles. We install water bubblers in staff areas across the grounds.
• Bonnaroo gets political. Our first ever postcard campaign urges patrons to support the Community Garden Act, Bill HR 3225.
• Local food dinners come to Planet Roo Café.
• For the fourth time, we win A Greener Festival Award for greening and sustainability practices.
• Clean Vibes keeps up the hard good work, responsibly handling 101 tons of commingled recycling, 23 tons of cardboard, 21 tons of scrap metal, 45 tons compostable material, and 5 tons of cooking oil. All together, 60% of all Bonnaroo 2010 waste by volume was diverted from landfills.
• Paper shredded. We go with a paperless ticketing system, saving countless trees otherwise headed for the mill.
• Urban Land Scouts partners with the Bonnaroo Carbon to encourage acts of land stewardship both on and off site.
• VIPs can go green, too. We expand our innovative reusable water bottle program for backstage guests.
• Clean Vibes collects 103.39 tons of commingled and construction waste, 41.13 tons of cardboard, 3 tons of donated food, 8 tons of waste oil, 178.32 tons of total recycling and reuse, and 22.8 tons of scrap metal. Separate and sort ya’ll. It’s the only way to responsibly dispose of your waste.
• Again, we win A Greener Festival Award.
• Money doesn’t grow on trees, but in 2012 it grew for them. For the first time, we add a $1 sustainability fee to every ticket sold. We also require a higher fee for RV passes, and continue the optional opt-in program for ticket buyers who want to support sustainable site projects.
• We won another A Greener Festival Award.
• Ridesharing is caring. Our rideshare program takes to the streets, facilitating endless caravans of Bonnaroo carpools. In the first year, 1,403 Bonnaroovians sign up (904 drivers and 499 passengers), mothballing more than one-thousand gas guzzlers, and preventing 1.1+ million pounds of CO2 from escaping into the atmosphere.
• The Tower of Power, a mobile solar generator, goes up in Planet Roo, pumping sweet sun juice into several non-profit booths.
• More trash diverted and more accurate waste reporting. In 2012, 32% of all our trash by weight was diverted from the landfill. 98.87 tons of commingled waste was hauled to QRS Recycling, WastAway or Richardson Construction Recycling. Additionally, we sent 15.76 tons of scrap metal to CFC Recycling in Tullahoma, 41.84 tons of cardboard, office paper and electronics to Coffee County Recycling, and 1.6 tons of used cooking oil to Tennessee Bio Energy for biodiesel processing. On top of all that, we put 70 tons of waste into compost.
• We install a 50-kilowatt solar array on site, making Bonnaroo the first major US festival to power itself with a permanent solar installation.
• It’s our responsibility to be a good green neighbor. We help eco-retrofit 102 homes in the Manchester area, installing 1175 energy-efficient light bulbs, swapping out 117 water-wasting shower heads, and plenty more, conserving energy and saving residents $100,000 in utility costs over 5 years. Thanks goes out to our partners We Are Neutral, Manchester Housing Authority, Keep Coffee County Beautiful, Duck River Electric utility, and 60+ volunteers for helping us fulfill our commitment to the community.
• We support the Plastic Pollution Coalition.
• Again, we take home A Greener Fest Award, our 7th in a row.
• We win the “Pursuit of Excellence Recognition” at the Governor of Tennessee’s Environmental Stewardship Awards.
• Single-use water bottles are banished from several staff areas.
• With help from Clean Vibes, we keep on hauling. Last year we hauled 192 tons of commingled waste to All In One Recycling, 26.49 tons of scrap metal to American Iron and Metal in Manchester, 22.39 tons of cardboard, office paper, and electronics hauled to Coffee County Recycling, and 3.85 tons of used cooking oil to Yellow Dog Renewables to be processed into biodiesel. We also added approximately 120 tons of compost to our festering and fertile biodegradable heap.
We are committed in 2014 to do even better.