A Festivus for the Rest of Us


Several days ago, on a small area of farmland in Tennessee, 80,000 gathered for the Bonnaroo Music Festival. The four-day celebration featured live music, shops, massage parlors, food marts, restaurants, crafts booths, and a “living quarter” all within a mini city created just for “the Roo.” “Mini city?” Sounds like the perfect chance for an eco-experiment! Starting last year, event sponsors, organizers, and musicians put their heads and wallets together to make Bonnaroo, “the greenest–and greatest–festival on earth.”

This year, the initiative continued with the popular “Planet Roo”—a virtual eco-village. Here non-profit organizations, green-product vendors, and environmentally-minded artists gathered to share information, eat organic food, and support responsible businesses of all shapes and sizes. Local farmers sold organic produce from small carts while Timberland Inc. sponsored a large booth to promote their line of PVC-free shoes. A tree was planted for every patron who visited the booth.

Artist Hospitality

Regina Spector tries on Timberland Inc.’s PVC-free, water based adhesive Luminari Ainsley Thong. Photo courtesy of Frank Mullen/WireImage

Other Bonnaroo 2007 greening initiatives included over 30,000 gallons of biodiesel fuel, a solar powered sound system, and a fancy recycling/composting program—preventing more than 60 percent of the event’s waste from entering landfills. All food vendors were required to provide recycled and biodegradable cups, plates, and cutlery; while security traversed the grounds—looking for violations—on electric-powered golf carts.

About Olivia Zaleski


  1. Interesting. This reminds me of an essay Gary Snyder wrote years ago about cities as temporary, ecologically sensitive gatherings for artistic, social, and commercial purposes.

  2. Olivia Zaleski says:

    Hi E.R. Dunhill. This essay sounds very cool. Do you know the name so I can look it up. Would love to follow up on this. Thanks!

    Olivia Zaleski

  3. Wow, I had no idea this concert was so environmentally-oriented. Their lineup this year was amazing too! Tool, Regina Spektor, Brazilian Girls, String Cheese Incident, Franti….

  4. OZ,
    The commentary on lifeways, cities, &c is in Four Changes, along with some other notions that are, in a word, dated. On balance, it’s an interesting train of thought. The essay is currently in print in one volume with Turtle Island, which is in and of itself worth the read.


  5. Hey Olivia thanks so much for the kind words! And glad you enjoyed yourself! Mostly everyone who is involved with Bonnaroo cares greatly about creating the cleanest event possible, and while there’s still a way to go before we can say that we have a truly benign eco effective fest, we’re all pretty happy with the way its been getting better and better each year and having the space for constant green experimentation and tweaking (like the 300 gallons of VOC free paint which didn’t off gas into the lungs of everyone [with the dust!], the experimental EVs riding around, and a constantly improving waste process…). Be sure to get in touch next year for full media treatment, and get ready for a huge leap in green-ness at next years roo!!

  6. As an attendee of this year’s event, I came away with a sense that the people and the causes rocked Bonnaroo just as hard as the musical performances. All in all, a festival done right/green!

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