Music Festivals, Can They Be Green?
By Bettina Rosmarino



We've all been to festivals that have seen their share of plastic beer cups, grease-stained paper plates, and spent cigarette butts strewn across a once-pristine park or fairgrounds. Those of us who have a spirit entrenched in the health of our planet, cringe at these sights, envisioning the massive amounts of garbage that winds up choking marine life when it finds its way through our storm drains to the ocean.

It's not surprising that many of us, though we might have frequented music festivals in the past, start to shy away as we get older. It just hurts too much to see this much waste caused by our version of fun.

But what if we can have it all? Zero waste, music, and the fun? Eco, green, and environmental festivals have been around since the first Earth Day in 1971 and though their vibe is improving in the realm of fun, music still seems to be a common missing link even in the bastion of Los Angeles' thriving music scene. That is, until recently.

An upcoming example of an eco, green festival that has a large musical influence is WorldFest, taking place at Woodley Park in Lake Balboa on May 16. WorldFest is in its eighth year and this solar-powered eco and environmental festival that is vegan and cruelty-free boasts over 20 musical bands on three stages. Now that's a lot to pack into a festival. WorldFest is even striving to become zero waste.

Lisa MacMillan, WorldFest's Zero-Waste Coordinator, says that it isn't an easy task striving for no garbage. "The difficulty often lies in educating the festival goers to differentiate what piece of garbage goes in what container. But other complications include who will take our compost, enforcing the use of biodegradable food containers, and eliminating waste before it is even generated."

To that end, much of WorldFest's zero-waste program will rely on working with the city and county to make use of their recycling and food waste pick-up programs, using volunteers to educate festival attendees, and being a 'bottle-free event' by using a company called LifeSource Water Systems, which will provide free filtered water and biodegradable cups for guests. The other difference in this festival is that the event is completely vegan so there aren't the concerns of meat contamination in the compost that the festival produces.

OK, it is all well and good that the festival is so green and certainly that warms an earth lover's soul, but what about the music? Will that be any good?

Billy Hulting, the WorldFest's Music Director and Co-Producer, and recent Grammy winner, is adamant about high-quality performances when it comes to the music the festival puts on. 'If you hire good performers and bands that span the musical genres audiences like to dance to, you will get a fun and energetic crowd. And that's the whole purpose of the festival, to learn how to be environmental, vegan, and compassionate in a setting that is lively, and exciting.'

It certainly seems to be the case that this festival is drawing significant sponsors. Whole Foods signs on as a sponsor every year, providing much of the backstage food. SunFlour Baking Company, which specializes in vegan cookies, brownies, and snacks has provided product and support for the festival for many years.

Whole Life Times and VegNews Magazines are returning sponsors with readers who will relish the vegetarian and green message that WorldFest has to share. New to sponsorships this year are Awareness Magazine, a bi-monthly holistic publication serving So.Calif., Arizona and NM; and Lush, who makes handmade cosmetics and has a strong commitment to vegetarian, cruelty-free and sustainable products.

So what can a participant expect in terms of an admission price? Though there are over 20 bands that will be spinning their tunes, the admission price to the festival is a reasonable $7. There will also be over 100 exhibitors selling cruelty-free and environmental products, along with an entire Kid's Area, a Healthy Hut, and a vegan, eco-food court.

So will a green music festival save the world? Maybe not, but can we come up with solutions that don't harm the earth while enjoying life's pleasures? You bet.

WorldFest is a Towards Freedom project. To find out more, visit or call (310) 477-7887.


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