California music festivals adopt green mindset

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Infographic by Elaine Knudsen

It is no longer breaking news that California is in the midst of a severe drought, so this summer it may be in the best interest of the Golden State to stay away from the waterslides and to drain those swimming pools.

With music festival season kicking off, pools won’t be the only thing that students will be draining. Student bank accounts quickly empty as each festival approaches. Although the prices may be steep, several music festivals are making innovative efforts to use ticket costs to create more sustainable events.

Students can spare water, contribute to a more sustainable community and see all their favorite bands this summer at any of these top three ecofriendly festivals in California.

During Memorial Day weekend, Lightning in a Bottle will be held in Bradley. This three-day festival is the only one to win the Greener Festival Award three years in a row.

Each year the festival hosts speakers and workshops on topics of sustainability, yoga and spirituality while maintaining a family-friendly atmosphere. The festival uses biodiesel generators to power the stages and vending areas, as well as renewable energy art installations.

Lightning in a Bottle’s educational workshops and dedication to a sustainable community is what sets it apart from other festivals. The featured workshops strive to inspire festival attendees to adapt to a greener way of life.

Last summer, the Greener Festival Award also went to the Northern Nights Music Festival out of Humboldt. Sustainability is integrated into every aspect of three-day festival.

The festival is held in an extremely diverse ecosystem, home to redwoods, endangered salmon and river otters. Northern Nights prides itself on not disturbing the local habitat and leaving the grounds exactly how they were before the festival.

Running straight through the festival is the South Fork Eel River, the third-largest watershed in California. One of the goals of the festival is to protect the fresh water stream from contamination. People attending the festival are heavily advised to pack their trash and to use all biodegradable and ecofriendly products when attending.

As with Lightning in a Bottle, Northern Nights also switched to diesel-powered lighting. Along with the use of solar-powered lights, this process prevented an estimated 1,784 pounds of carbon emissions.

Just before the next school year begins, one last Bay Area hoorah tops California’s sustainable music festivals list. The first weekend in August in Golden Gate Park will be Outside Lands.

Winner of the Greener Festival Award in 2010, the group responsible for sustainability at the festival is Eco Lands. Known for its environmentally conscious efforts, Eco Lands features educational urban gardening workshops, local community organizations, ocean beach cleanup, a farmers market, locally sourced food vendors and a refillable water station.

Using all compostable and biodegradable products, Eco Lands partners up with the companies Clean Vibes and San Francisco’s Department of the Environment in order to obtain the highest possible waste diversion rates.

So whether students are floating on the river in Humboldt grooving to electronic or sitting on the grass in Golden Gate Park listening to their favorite indie band, California offers some of the top sustainable music festivals enabling audiences to make greener choices and enjoy the summer fun.

Elaine Knudsen can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.