10 Lessons for Planning an Environmental-Friendly Music Festival

emu environmental music festival logo mountains photo

Photo credit: Eco Music Festival

Big music festivals, such as Bonnaroo, Coachella and Outside Lands have all taken steps to make their events more eco-friendly, but staging such an event is a huge challenge and keeping the ecological footprint small makes it even more so. We asked the organizers of the new Eco Music Festival (EMU) to explain how they are keeping the event fun and environmentally friendly.Between June 30th and July 3rd, the Eco Music Festival (EMU) is bringing the summer music festival experience into the mountains. Nestled one and a half miles above sea level— in Snowmass Village, Colorado—the festival plans to offer more than just music, creating an adventure filled weekend that caters to a range of interests.

Here are 10 things EMU co-founders Michelin Hall, Timothy Wooster and Alyse Pask said every music festival organizer should consider:

1. Location, Location, Location
It's hard to feel the Earth's vibe in a convention center or hotel banquet room. For EMU, an amazing natural setting was essential to people appreciating what the planet has to offer and to opening minds to new ideas and experiences. The mountains of Snowmass Village are inspiring enough to turn anyone into a TreeHugger!

2. A Good Mix
The sad fact is many of us go through our day using only parts of ourselves. We designed EMU to be a total mind body experience—great music for the soul, adrenaline-packed events for the body and new ideas and innovations for the mind. It's a great way to experience and appreciate what nature has given us, while doing our part to protect it.

3. The Right Groove
Everything—including sustainability—is better with great music! If you think of a favorite experience or time in your life, more often than not that memory has its own soundtrack. We've brought together musical groups with inspiration and lasting memories in mind.

4. Party for Positive Impact
The right atmosphere can set the stage to inspire and engage people well beyond a single weekend. Designing an event with many opportunities for people to interact and meet turns a festival into an experience were people can share insights and create connections that can lead to positive change and action.

5. Be an Instigator
Encourage your partners to develop new earth and business friendly systems or customer offerings within their own organizations. Your collaboration can help other organizations extend the impact of a single event through ongoing practices and services that benefit their customers, their bottom line and the planet.

6. Spreading the Love
Social media and the blogosphere make it possible to amplify and extend the impact of a single event to millions around the globe. Creating a virtual compliment to a physical event can turn a weekend into the start of something big.

7. A Community Affair
Every community has unique experiences to share and great stories to tell. From hotels to farm cooperatives to microbrewers, tapping into local organizations and businesses cuts down on impact, supports local economies and provides great flavor and color critical to any destination event. Designating a portion of the festival's proceeds to benefit sustainability initiatives at local organizations is a way to "pay it forward.. For example, we are designating proceeds from EMU's Eco Climb-it Challenge to help fund green programs in local schools.

8. The Devil (and the impact) is in the Details
Making sustainability a part of an event's DNA rather than a theme, requires you to make smart decisions from day one. It may take more time and thought but the process inspires innovation and can yield unexpected results. The search to keep EMU festivarians properly hydrated for example, led us to compostable water bottles made in the U.S and filled from local aquifers.

9. Great Bones
Every destination event needs structure, the physical kind, that is. Start by using what's already there whenever possible. Utilizing existing staging, concessions and storage is almost always the greenest choice. If something doesn't exist, take the opportunity to innovate. When it came to the tents we needed for EMU's Innovation Village, we partnered with The Neenan Company to develop the first sustainable festival tent. The final design was chosen by the public through an online contest!

10. The Importance of Not Being Too Earnest
Dare to embrace the fun factor while you are contributing to a better future for your fellow humans and the planet. Remember, you are a festival not a UN summit.

SLIDESHOW: The Eco Music Festival Designs the First Sustainable Event Tent

Thanks to Michelin, Timothy and Alyse for sharing their advice on putting on a green music festival! Hopefully more festival & event organizers will put these suggestions in practice!

To buy tickets or learn more, visit the Eco Music Festival.

10 Lessons for Planning an Environmental-Friendly Music Festival
Big music festivals, such as Bonnaroo, Coachella and Outside Lands have all taken steps to make their events more eco-friendly, but staging such an event is a huge challenge and keeping the ecological footprint small

Related Content on Treehugger.com