As music festivals continue to grow in size and popularity, one might question whether the awareness these festivals raise around sustainability practices outweighs the carbon footprint they leave behind:

Larger festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza attract hundreds of thousands of attendees each year — and they’re only getting bigger. Coachella went from being two days to three, then from one weekend to two since 2012; and Lollapalooza became a four day festival just two years ago. Bonnaroo, on the other hand, has always been a four day festival.

Below are the number of attendees of each festival in 2017:

Coachella: 750,000 (125,000 per day)

Bonnaroo: 240,000 (60,000 per day)

Lollapalooza: 400,000 (100,000 per day)

. . .

Are these larger numbers raising more environmental awareness or simply backtracking our efforts to achieve a greener planet? With air and vehicle transportation leaving some of the largest amounts of carbon emissions, it’s questionable whether the efforts domestic and international fans make to see their favorite artists is worth the environmental impact.

If you’re flying to Coachella from New York, for example, it’s estimated that you will generate roughly 20% of the greenhouse gases your car emits in one year according to the New York Times. Now, consider all the people who fly to Coachella and festivals alike domestically and internationally.

Are the sustainability efforts these bigger music festivals put into place enough? While this is an area that’s still being researched, Coachella, Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo all have noteworthy sustainability practices.

. . .

Coachella partnered with Global Inheritance in 2002, and has implemented fun activities such as Carpoolchella, Art of Recycling and the Oasis Water Bar. Each aspect of this partnership not only creates a sense of mindfulness around Coachella’s fan base, but incentivizes them with cool prizes like VIP for life.


Bonnaroo is also a large player in the festival industry’s sustainability efforts. Planet Roo provides a variety of educational programs, nonprofits and recycling efforts right on Bonnaroo’s campgrounds. Lollapalooza, on the other hand, partners with after school programs where volunteers can specialize in urban sustainability efforts.


How are you reducing your carbon footprint at music festivals? Next time you consider that weekend getaway, be sure to consider how to help clean up the mess you leave behind.

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