How to Be and Who Is Green at Primavera Sound (or any other) Festival

Primavera Sound Festival green head photo

Alright, staying at home and listing to music online would have much less impact on the planet, no doubt, but there is something about some 100.000 people getting together during 3 days to enjoy the latest (and not so latest; Pulp and Nick Cave are playing!) the music world has to offer. Hard to miss at Primavera Sound Festival is the biggest urban solar panel station in Europe, placed at the Fórum Park in Barcelona where the festival takes place every year since 2005. It is also a big plus (both for the environment and for festival goers who might not like late-night driving) that the festival site is easily accessible by public transport, something that the city of Barcelona is constantly improving as shown with the installation of the Bicing bike sharing system or the latest electric vehicle charging stations. However, I can't shake the feeling that there is much more that could be done on the green side of things, like at these 8 great green music festivals.A little less bad isn't good enough
San Miguel Primavera Sound prints all the information about the festival on recycled chlorine-free paper and "tries to avoid as much as possible the use of plastic". Well, plastic isn't so bad depending on the situation (ever heard of upcycling?) but whether paper or plastic, the most eco-friendly material is the one not used. So why not use reusable cups by Ecofestes or create another iPhone App like last year to save paper? Or at least place recycling bins and enough bicycle parkings around the site!

Oh Beautiful Nature

A lot of indie bands love nature and write songs about powerful choices like Kimya Dawson for example. This year's promo video for the festival is a beautiful animation by Studio Fake in Barcelona who decided to pay homage to the arrival of the Spring and Primavera (meaning 'spring') Sound Festival by crafting a charming clip where plants grow and dance to the music of the bands playing.

Bands Who Do Good
Brian Weitz, known as the Geologist, is a member of Animal Collective playing tomorrow. Weitz received a BA in environmental biology, and then an MPA in environmental policy from Columbia University, which probably explains the band's collaboration with Keep Company, an LA shoe store. Together the band and the shoe company created a limited edition of sneakers to raise money for the Socorro Island Conservation fund to protect the marine life of Baja California.

Animal Collective photo by Adriano Fegundes

Image Credit: Adriano Fegundes
PJ Harvey, on before Animal Collective on saturday, had been motivated by today's conflict around the world to create her latest album Let England Shake. According to NME magazine she said: "I've always been very affected by what's going on in the world, politically, socially, in every way." The new album definitely inspires one to reflect on ongoing struggles as the singer pushes human aspects of history into the spotlight.

The National are also committed to social and political causes and, apart from a big disaster relief donation button on their web site, have participated in projects like Dark Was the Night, a Red Hot Organisation compilation dedicated to fighting AIDS that features songs by other artists that play (and played) at Primavera Sound, such as Sufjan Stevens, Arcade Fire, Grizzly Bear or Feist.

On stage before PJ Harvey are Fleet Foxes, who's singer Robin Pecknold is said to be a devoted vegan and ecologist. Their songs are beautiful stories about going back to nature and a world in harmony and collaboration.

So How Do You Go Green At Music Festivals?

Here are the 10 essential lessons from planning the environmental music festival, along with other examples of how green festivals can be; check out: SOS and FIB in Spain, Roskilde in Denmark, Live Earth Concerts in London, Outside Lands in San Fransisco or Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee. I hope this inspires the Primavera Sound Festival organisers to think greener for next year's event! Artists that set an example for how to green their tours are no doubt Radiohead and Jack Johnson. As for these exciting days happening right now, here's what you, dear festival goer, can do:

  • Use your plastic cup more than once
  • Use a refillable water bottle (if they let you)
  • Use public transport to get to the site
  • Look out for recycling bins and use them correctly
  • Try to look out for local food that has the least packaging, or bring your own
  • Write an email to the organisers with suggestions for how to make next year's festival eco-friendlier

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