Rothbury Rock Fest Raises Green Bar


Trash for the "landfill," compost for local farmers, and recycling. Photo by: Michael Weintrob

Coachella won our Best of Green Music Festivals and does an exemplary job recycling plastic water bottles, educating fans, and other greenings. Though I wonder why it doesn't encourage refillable water containers in the middle of the desert. So who is the green, greener, greenest? My vote leans toward Rothbury Festival in Michigan, happening July 2-5, for its commitment "to throwing a huge party with a purpose." Am I partial as a former Detroiter in California? Check out Rothbury's slew of initiatives and judge for yourself. Its mission: "make a difference to help shape a brighter, greener future" gives back to the township, county, state, and planet by making earth-friendly choices, from stage construction to the TP in honey buckets. For example:

• Waste Reclamation Stations with three barrels for compost, recycling and "landfill"
• Eliminate trash with biodegradable plates and cups
• Reduce energy by running on biodiesel (local B20 and B100) and solar
• Compost on-site and provide compost free to local farmers

Last year's Waste Diversion Rate reached 94% on the festival grounds. It aims to raise the bar on the camp site this year above 55 percent. Dedicated to producing a zero-waste event, as much as possible, Rothbury's footprint was evaluated by the Spitfire Agency to incorporate sustainability throughout the production, asking: Where is this coming from? How was it made? and Where might it end up? It also employs the following methods and campaigns:

• Green offices: 100% recycled paper, 2-sided printing, soy-based inks, rechargeable batteries
• Sustainable t-shirts, hats and merchandise
• Organic, veggie and vegan food vendors and farmer's market on site

Located in a rural area of farms and lakes, Rothbury requests attendees respect the neighboring towns by not leaving garbage, and stocking up supplies and fueling nearby. Even art projects on display are created from junk found locally.


Photo by Mathew Wenthe
Work Exchange Program
Audience members can volunteer by purchasing a Green Team Ticket which gets reimbursed on completing shifts (saving $220 of the $249 weekend pass). Jobs available around-the-clock, during the event, for set-up and teardown days, let fans enjoy shows. Tasks include: building waste recovery stations, manning waste stations, explaining compost/recycling/trash bins, collecting trash on the grounds, re-sorting recycling in the Waste Recovery Compound, working with charities to divert waste into donations.

Sustainable Schools Program
Rothbury's program to green schools puts bucks into education instead of energy:
• Installing solar panels, wind turbines, and CFLs to lower carbon footprint
• Conducts a "Green Rocks! Contest" for local elementary schools
• "Music in Schools" donates instruments and includes student performers at the festival

Think Tank and Greening Tours
Environmental innovators, scientists, entrepreneurs, and rabble-rousers come to the event to share strategies, successes, and hands-on opportunities at "buzz" sessions, round-tables and workshops. They discuss solutions to a green economy, how to find a green job (critical in Michigan with unemployment rates at 12.6% and Detroit at 15%), and how to grow organic food, and more.


Photo by Mathew Wenthe
Offsetting
The festival offsets energy it's unable to green, like air travel for bands and attendees, at an estimated .3 tons of carbon per person (at $3 each), based on a calculation of flights, driving and mileage. It also refers folks to ride-shares, eco-shuttles, and local biofuel sites. The offsets go to Tananka, a wind farm powering 60,000 homes in the Midwest. Also, there's a "Ticket for Good" available for interested individuals, with the following pitch:

We are all directly and indirectly responsible for pollution. We live in our homes, drive our cars and these activities put carbon into the atmosphere. The best way to deal with carbon is to create less of it in the first place (carpool, ride a bike, solar, biodiesel, etc). But for those items which you cannot change, offsetting is, in effect, a way of balancing out [the pollution] which you create.

Food Drive and Food Art
Concert-goers are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for donating to local food relief through Conscious Alliance. Bring 20 items and snag a 3D hologram poster. Low-sodium and healthy food products are appreciated (Ramen Noodles don't count). Last year 16,344 lbs. of products were collected with 45,725 cans donated by Whole Foods for a Guinness World Record-setting food sculpture. There's also an "Art That Feeds" gallery on site.

Did I mention the line-up?
Headliners include Dylan, the Black Crowes, Willie Nelson, The Dead, String Cheese Incident, Guster, Son Volt, Toots & the Maytals, Ani Difranco, G. Love & Special Sauce, and many more all in the Independence Day spirit.

Got another suggestion for a even greener event? Let them know: greening at rothburyfestival dot com.

More on greening music festivals:
8 Green Music Festivals That Rock
Outside Lands: Green Music Festival Rocks the City by the Bay
TreeHuggerTV: NRDC Does Bonnaroo
SOS 4.8 Music Festival in Spain Asks: And now what?
Virgin Music Festival Offers Greener Way to Get Your Groove On
Ecofestes Reusable Cup Service at Summercase Music Festival
SXSW Steers the Music Biz onto the Green Track
Reverb: Greening the Music Industry

Tags: Biodiesel | Buy Local | Carbon Offsets | Concerts | Green Building | Green Packaging | Music | Recycling | Zero Waste