Wednesday, May 28, 2008

posted by Jason @ 5:09 PM
So my inbox is getting cluttered again with more stories of music (mostly music festivals) going green. Here's the Reader's Digest version for you, loyal treehuggers!

Leading off, the incomparable Sarah van Schagen gets on base with an interview with popster Jason Mraz. Summary: he got the green religion about the same time he got the surfing religion, and now he runs a bus on B20, reuses water bottles, and donates money to the Surfrider foundation. To all you naysayers out there: lighten up! He's not Jack Johnson, he just sounds like him, and he surfs, and he's, you know, all green and stuff...wait a minute! Will he soon have solar panels on his avocado farm?

In the two-hole: the Santa Barbara Independent walks one over with this longish article about the greening of last week's Lightning in a Bottle festival, which we've mentioned in the past. Funny thing is, for all the words, the article spends almost no time actually describing the actual steps the festival has taken to be green, other than some workshops and waste-reduction stuff. In my brief write up of the fest, I noted that they had an excellent sustainability report, though--looking forward to seeing what comes out of this year's greening campaign.

Batting third: Rothbury scores a single with this decent writeup in a local Michigan paper. There's nothing groundbreaking here, but if you missed my post on Rothbury, this is a good recap of the greening efforts. I'll be going to Rothbury this year (whee!) to cover all the green action.

And finally, our cleanup hitter is Gerard Murphy, subject of this piece in the Burlington (ON) Post. It seems that Mr. Murphy, a 59-year old lawyer, has a little hobby: he puts in 20 hour days sorting out 2200 bags of trash into recylables and compostables from Burlington's Sound of Music festival. It's official: I've been out-greened. Grand Slam for Gerard Murphy!

Here's some Mr. A to Z for you to take it home.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

posted by Sarah Krasley @ 2:35 PM
LOHAS, an organization that focuses on how businesses and individuals are paving the future for healthier and environmentally friendly lifestyles, put out a report this week with a very interesting finding: consumers actually care about certification seals on products.

I wasn't surprised to see that the front runner was Energy Star pointing to the fact that consumers are taking the life-cycle of the product into account before buying it. The popularity of the recycled logo points to this trend as well. The results caused me to ponder whether these consumer choices have to do with saving the environment, saving money, or both....particularly interesting because we are sitting in a recession right now. Who says the recession doesn't have some positive side effects?

And, while tap water doesn't carry a certification seal when it comes out of the tap, some municipalities are putting a ration on how much water they will allow to certain households in order to force conservation on their customers. The East Bay Municipal Utility District, for example, is asking single-family homes to cut back on their water supply as much as 19%. They list several saving water tips on their website.

Awhile back, thought leaders discussed what it would take for a critical mass to actually take action to curb their own consumption and take responsibility for their own contributions to global climate change--consensus was that the risks of climate change would have to begin to impact daily life.....a water ration seems like a good place to start...

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

posted by Jason @ 3:04 PM
A few weeks ago, I brought you news that green festivals in the UK were getting some mainstream media love, notably the BBC. Now it appears that even my hometown right-wing stalwart the Boston Herald is noticing the green music movement.

A story in today's Herald by Jed Gottlieb does a pretty decent job of covering the fan transit issue. He talks about Radiohead's carbon footprint experiment, extols the virtues of this weekend's WBOS EarthFest at the Boston Hatch, and beats up a bit on the giant traffic jam we call the Tweeter Center.

Nice work, Jed!

Here's some Radiohead to make up for the brief post:

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posted by Jason @ 8:34 AM
Sometimes blogging gets kind of lonely. I'm here, away from the people who are reading this stuff. And you guys -and gals- are out...there. Somewhere. And while I hope that you're reading this, and that Sarah and I have made it onto your Google Reader page, or even that you just found one post that you liked, we really rarely know.

So anyway, that's a roundabout way of saying that I was delighted to get this piece of mail from Brian Eyster at Planet Bluegrass in response to my post on Colorado festivals. Brian was kind enough to let me reprint, thus filling you guys in on both the behind-the-scenes work at Planet Bluegrass and saving me a bunch of typing. Thanks, Brian! Look for an interview with the Planet Bluegrass gang later this summer.

Hi Jason-

I've been enjoying your green blog at JamBase. It's nice to see someone read through the hype of music festival sustainability and actually look atthe details of what's being done.
Thanks for the mention of Telluride Bluegrass a week ago. Your criticisms of our website (only focusing on waste and energy) were spot-on. We are doing more than that, but we need to be more open about it.

One of our goals for this year is to improve the transparency and openness of everything we're doing - and we're hoping other festivals follow suit (I'm honestly, doubtful about that). We just launched our own SustainableFestivation Blog last week, where we'll begin tackling these issues, especially the controversial ones.

We also just announced our "Sustainable Festivation Manifesto" for this year's Telluride Bluegrass. In addition to making the entire event carbon neutral (including all travel to/from Telluride), doing away with plastic bags, stepping up our use of organic/local food (we expect to source 75% of our backstage food from organic suppliers), and reaching out to our campgrounds to be more creatively sustainable through a green campground challenge.

One particularly interesting issue we're taking on this year is the phasing out of single-use bottled water. We'll be giving away reusable Klean Kanteen water bottles to all our artists and crew to keep bottled water completely out of the backstage (and stage) area. It's not going to be easy, but we think something like this can be best promoted with the help ofthe artists on-stage. In the crowd, we're no longer allowing vendors to sell less than 1 liter bottles (as a first step, this year). We're installing a water treatment station inside the festival where we'll be serving free local water the entire festival.

We've been focused on sustainability for the last five-plus years. Initially we did it not for the marketing benefit, but because it was the next exciting challenge in improving how we put on music festivals. For many festivals, "green practices" have become a marketing item. For us, it's just part of how we evolve our festivals year after year - twenty years as our company, Planet Bluegrass, and thirty-five years as the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.


Brian Eyster
Planet Bluegrass

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

posted by Sarah Krasley @ 5:30 PM
Yesterday, the British Government launched a new version of Google Earth that allows viewers to see additional layers that reflect the growing risks of global climate change. The goal is to make these risks tangible and inspire people to take action.

The new offering also benefits non-profits working in this arena because it allows them to show their constituents exactly what problems they're tackling and why those probems are important.

More information is available here. Download Google Earth here.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

posted by Sarah Krasley @ 4:29 PM
The line-up at this summer's Virgin Mobile Festival leaves very little to be desired: Bob Dylan, She & Him, Kayne West, The Black Keys, Andrew Bird, Wilco, the list goes on and on and on.

With a dude like Richard Branson at the helm, I was not surprised to find a great roster of greening initiatives as an integral part of the festival.

As we've reported before, many festivals do not encourage refillable water bottles and prefer festival goers to purchase branded water on-site, resulting in mountains of plastic water bottles. Not the case at the Virgin Mobile festival, the website asks festival goers to bring their own bottles and refill them at water stations that are spread all across the festival grounds.

Building on their festival greenings from last year that included running the festival on B99 biodiesel fuel, composting, recycling, and biodegradable food service items, the Virgin team is using clean energy, composting at the nearby Chesterfield Farms Organic Recycling to make sure that all food service waste will have a second life in a local park or garden, and much more.

Check out the super fun website here. See you at the races!

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

posted by Sarah Krasley @ 10:28 AM
Yet another reason to go to Rothbury---be part of history! Whole Foods teamed up with the Conscious Alliance to help fight global hunger and poverty by donating over 500,000 pounds of food. The donation will be on display at this year's Rothbury Festival and will attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records record for "largest canned food structure". Festival attendees are encouraged to add to the sculpture and be part of history while supporting a good cause.

From the press release:

The "Conscious CanSculpture" will help draw attention to the relationship between hunger and the environment and will also generate approximately 40,000 additional cans of food (specifically, 8 varieties of "all natural beans") to be donated to the local Rothbury, MI community as part of the ROTHBURY Food Drive hosted by Conscious Alliance. ROTHBURY's open forum for discussion on environmental and social issues and dedication to giving back to the community makes this event an ideal locale for such a unique and influential endeavor.

"As a company that has long believed in the benefits of natural and organic food products and the importance of giving back to the local community, we are pleased to partner with another like-minded organization such as Conscious Alliance to increase the positive impact of our efforts," said a Whole Foods Market® spokesperson.

For more information, click here.
Image Credit: Flickr

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Monday, May 12, 2008

posted by Jason @ 2:21 PM
Sick of in-depth coverage of the issues? Longing for short, easily digestible news bites--like tater tots, but more digital? I've got your fix, right here!

First up, I'll rip off Grist again, in 3 ways.
  1. Grist is reporting that Ecorazzi is reporting that Al Gore and Kevin Wall are going to have Live Earth 2 on October 5, timed to influence a little last-minute enviropoliticking by our presidential nominees. Apparently, Al may not be running but he still wants to be on TV every fourth October. Given that this election season's crop of politicians haven't even glanced at the environment (again), this can only help. Bonus -- concerts on college campuses!
  2. Next up, our old pal Sarah von Schagen completely scooped us on the Coachella eco-train, perhaps because only 300 VIPS out of the 65,000 attending got to ride it. Actually, the LA Times did the scooping, but my Google alerts failed me, so now I bring it to you thirdhand. This is a fantastic idea, one that I hope will catch on to other festivals nearish to train tracks, only on a more meaningful scale.
  3. Sarah also namedrops Rothbury and the Lighting in a Bottle festival. I'll be covering Rothbury in full before, during, and after the event. Lightning in a Bottle is one I hadn't covered before, but their post-event coverage (PDF) is the best I've seen from any festival.

Camping festivals are great, but it turns out that many of the attendees are non-campers who buy the cheapest possible tent and ditch it at the end of the show. This seems to be a bigger problem at the big English camping fests than the US venues I've attended, but it's definitely an issue here, too. Enter MyHab, an outfit that will rent you a hard-sided camping pod that comes set up and is made out of recycled material. All you do is show up, unroll your sleeping bag, and relax. I'm tempted to quit my job and start a US MyHab franchise. Via Springwise.

Random business journal In-Forum Business is reporting that "FACE Inc., producers of WE Fest and the 10,000 Lakes music festivals, has been awarded a $75,000 grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to increase recycling at the events held at the Soo Pass Ranch near Detroit Lakes....The funds will be used to develop WE B Green, a recycling program to reduce the amount of landfill waste generated by business operations, vendors and campers at both festivals. " WE Fest is a country fest--nice to see that traditionally red voters can go green, too! On the other hand, 10KLF might be the only nationally-known festival I've seen that doesn't have a single word on its website about greening. I guess they're not into bandwagons.

Bonnaroo's forum has a greening section with occasional activity. A post today alerted me to this solid interview with Anna Borofsky of festival-trash heavyweight Clean Vibes. If you've been to a large festival in the past few years, you've probably seen the Clean Vibes crew doing their thing--they do great work and are one of the oldest festival greening crews around.

The Dawson (Georgia) Times reports that this year's subtly-named Eco-Music Festival will be, er, green. I'm not sure how green holding an event in an animal refuge inaccessible by public transit is, but it appears that their heart, at least, is in the right place. Plus, it's mostly local Atlanta acts, and the whole 96-band, 3-day event is only $30! If you're in that neck of the woods and don't have other plans for Memorial Day weekend, check it out and let us know if it lived up to both the Eco and Music parts of the name. And even if you're not going, make sure you click here with your speakers on to hear an awesome monster-truck style radio spot for this event. Rock-Rock-Rock in the Mountains!

Here's a little video from Quench, which had the coolest logo from the Eco-Music-Fest bands. My internets are moving like molasses today, so I haven't actually watched this thing, but the opening screen looks super promising. Enjoy!

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

posted by Jason @ 10:20 PM
My inbox has been filling up recently with press releases about new festivals--it seems like there isn't a weekend this summer that doesn't have at least one major event, and many weekends have several competing. One thing all these festivals have in common (besides Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, who are making the rounds this year and are simply not to be missed) is the desire to be seen as green.

My most recent round of green-leaning festivals includes these two from Colorado. Up first is Monolith, a festival I wasn't very nice to last year for their "reforestation program," among other things. I said it then and I'll say it now: seven trees planted is not "reforestation." It's tree planting, and not that many trees, either. It's a nice gesture, but I think that the organizers spent more energy touting their reforestation program than they did actually planting the trees. But since I wrote that in the days before I had started interviewing festivals and doing on-site spot checks, I guess I'll give them another shot to be green this year. But I'll play Steven Colbert here: Monolith, I'm putting you on notice! You've got a solid lineup and a fantastic venue--you can really shine by turning Red Rocks green, and not just for your weekend but for all the future events held there. Don't let us down!

Switching from alt-rock to bluegrass, Planet Bluegrass is promoting itself as a big green player this year, too. Hopefully they will have more to offer than the offsets and waste reduction their website focuses on. Judging by the really in-depth coverage they give to those two issues, I'd guess that there is more going on behind the scenes. Planet Bluegrass looks like they're doing a good job of thinking through the issues, although it would be nice to see a bit more about their other efforts. If all they're doing is waste reduction and offsetting, I'd say they're just scratching the surface.

The Planet Bluegrass site has a great overview of the difficulties that arise from trying to go green with something as seemingly innocuous as a beer cup. The cup thing is probably one of the biggest struggles for all green festival promoters and they do a good job explaining why it's so hard. The site also has a good description of the concept of offsets and shows their progress over the last few years to where they are now, which includes offsetting all of their fans' travel. I'm still not a fan of offsets, but it appears they're here to stay and it's more than a token gesture to spend that kind of money on offsets.

Anyway, those of you lucky enough to be high in the Rocky Mountains, enjoy your green festivals this year. Here's some Sharon Jones to take it home.

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posted by Sarah Krasley @ 11:56 AM

From Environmental Leader:

internet.jpgAcademics and researchers from Intel and Microsoft are putting the Internet under the microscope, developing strategies to cut the consumption of computer-network hardware in the belief that adjusting the flow of network traffic could create dramatic energy savings, NewScientistTech reports.

Studies have shown that a server can consume 60 percent of its peak power even when it is idle, said Jie Liu, a researcher at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Wash., studying how Internet servers use energy.

“In an extreme case, a single connection can keep a server on,” Jie Liu said.

One answer could be to slow things down. CNET reports that “research from labs at Intel and the University of California at Berkeley has found that network hardware could consume up to 80 percent less energy if allowed to sleep, or if set up for data to travel in clusters rather than in an even flow. Changes to delay the flow of data by milliseconds, not enough for Web surfers to notice, reportedly cut energy use in half.”

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Monday, May 5, 2008

posted by Jason @ 2:53 PM
My google alerts, um, alerted me to these two news stories about green festivals over in Paul McCartneyland. First up is a's roundup of British green festivals co-authored by our close personal friend Ben Challis, one of the founders of the Brit-centric website A Greener Festival. We keep talking to Ben about how we should collaborate more--maybe this will finally be the year it happens!

British festivals sound like they're pretty much like American festivals, with lots of the same bands and the same general demographic. The big differences from a green perspective are that they tend to be easier to get to by public transportation (by virtue of being in a country where everything is easier to get to by public transit) and that they are jumping on board the composting toilet bandwagon, while we here in the US are left to suffer with nasty blue chemical toilets.

Second up is a slightly more in-depth piece by the BBC (!!!) profiling the award that the T in the Park festival won for greening its event. That festival is also mentioned in the first article, but it's not clear to me whether it's the greenest of them all or just the best advertised. Anyway, nice to see the green festival buzz going all the way mainstream--a mention in the Beeb is a Very Big Deal, indeed. Congrats to the T in the Park!

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

posted by Sarah Krasley @ 2:34 PM

Environmental Graffiti posted a very interesting piece on the cities with the highest rates of people walking to work. I must say I was pretty shocked at Newark, NJ making the list, but, hey, we all learn something new once in awhile, right? So, spring is officially here, make like Melanie Griffith and put on those Reeboks with your business suit.

Reposted from Environmental Graffiti:

There’s no denying it – by 2025, it is estimated that there will be over a billion cars on this big blue marble we all love so dearly. The cities on our planet have been designed explicitly for the automotive and oil industries for at least 60 years. This is awful, yet it makes it crystal clear how much work there is to be done in order to clean up our collective act. Perhaps though, instead of pointing the finger at the rest of the world, it might be more effective to take an introverted look at our own country.

A large part of may be taking alternate means of transportation, like a bike, or mass transit, or even–gasp!–walking. After covering the first two, let’s take a look at the third and praise the following cities for being the best to walk in.

5. Newark, New Jersey

Image from Payton Chung

I know what you’re thinking: Newark? Yes, Newark. The city that’s got a reputation for being New York’s odoriferous younger brother also happens to have a remarkable amount of its population living within walking distance of their place of business. In the 2000 census 8% of the population walked to work. They didn’t take public transit, ride bikes, or do “ride shares”, but actually walked to work–a mark of sustainable development absent in most modern cities.

4. San Francisco, California

Image from lunatech

The only thought that can cross my mind right now is this: imagine the calves on those people. Nine percent of the city by the bay commutes on foot, and with the hills that make their town famous, they may have a tougher trip than anybody… well… maybe not Himalayan Sherpas. Nevertheless, it’s good to know that a city that’s always on the progressive edge of legislation is taking a great deal of individual action, as well.

3. New York, New York

Image from Morrisey

It had to be on the list, didn’t it. Manhattan is the only place in the country where more than 50% of the population doesn’t own a car. Over ten percent of New Yorkers walk to work, which is remarkable, but the truly impressive number takes into account the 50% that take public transit. Over 60% of the city doesn’t use their car to get to work; a mark normally only approached in college and military communities.

2. Washington, DC

image from euthman

Ok, so maybe the high placement of the District on this list means that we can’t call it “cities that are sticking it to oil companies” anymore, but DC fosters a remarkable number of pedestrians–12% of the 527,000 residents never set foot in a car, bus, or train to get to work. That number is even more remarkable when you consider how heavily segregated Washington still is. This could be Green City in a matter of years if it tried.

1. Boston, Massachusetts

Image from Pear Biter

Boston residents have a great reason to walk to work: there is no other way to get there in the old city. As I mentioned, cities have been tailored for cars in the last 60 years, however Boston is far older than that, and as a result, it’s almost counterproductive to own a car. With 13% of the population walking to work, Boston lays claim to being America’s most pedestrian-friendly city.

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