Outside Lands Starts Off on Rocky Green Foot When It Comes to Water

outside lands photo

photos via Jaymi Heimbuch
Outside Lands, the San Francisco music festival, is working diligently to be a green standard for music festivals. And in fact, the designated Eco Lands section is a haven for those looking for organic and local refreshments, renewable energy-powered music, and opportunities to volunteer for non-profits. I'll bring on the posts about all these great features soon. However, there's one thing I dealt with literally upon walking into the gate that marred the impression of just how seriously the fest is taking going green. And when it's 95 degrees outside, it's an issue that stands out even more: Water. Outside Lands has made quite a hubbub about how it is greening the festival by encouraging folks to switch to reusable water containers. I was happy to bring my 24 oz container full of refreshing water with me. However, upon reaching the gate, I saw this:

bottles entrance photo

I was told to dump out my entirely full water container. I guzzled what I could and had to waste the rest. I was told I could refill it when I got in. However, then I saw this:

bottles for sale photo

And this:

bottles refill station photo

The whole green impression of having reusable water containers be a great easy option for water was completely dissolved. When I asked a staffer at the water booth, I was told there was not the possibility of getting free water...anywhere. I either had to pay up, or get dehydrated. I was told the same thing when I asked a staffer at the Eco Lands info booth.

I went to the press tent thinking they'd at least have a water cooler and I could quench my thirst there thanks to a little help from my media hookup. Nope. When I saw a water jug at the bar, I asked if I could fill my container. The bar tender said no, that's for hand washing, and she handed me a bottle of Dasani. I asked if I could please get some water that was not from a plastic bottle. She said no. This was it. Out of principle and pouting, I said no thanks and ended up paying for a refill for my container. But not until after passing by this as I left the press booth:

bottles at press tent photo

Later that night, a friend I was with came back from getting some food and told me she nearly fell over a big pile of half empty water bottles.

So much for reducing plastic water bottle waste.

Granted, the festival could have made it worse, providing only bottled water without the option for refills, or without the option for free refills when you buy the festival's container. However, it seemed to sum up in a weekend in the park one reality we all face daily: Clean drinking water is a privilege. Period. Those who have money can get at it. Those who don't, well...you'll just have to go thirsty.

Loads more to come on Outside Land's greener side - the great (and the fest really is doing some great things), the good and the frustrating (because all gatherings have a long way to go before being truly green) - throughout the weekend.

More on Music Festivals
8 Green Music Festivals That Rock
Outside Lands: Green Music Festival Rocks the City by the Bay
Bonnaroo 2009: The Green, the Bad and the Ugly

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