This past weekend the Outside Lands festival rocked San Francisco, drawing thousands of people to bask in the sunshine and music that filled Golden Gate Park. Greening an event as massive as a festival is no easy task, however one of the cornerstones of this year’s event was the PG&E sponsored Eco Lands, which created a verdant heart within the festival’s central meadow From a solar stage juiced by the sun’s rays, to an on-site organic farmers market, to an innovative array of recycling programs, read on for a review of Eco Lands’ greatest green merits.
Now in its second year running, the Eco Lands encampment literally took center stage at this year’s Outside Lands festival. Located in one of the event’s main glades, it was pretty much impossible to miss while traveling between the festival’s 7 stages, which gave the endeavor a ton of exposure. Upon arriving I picked up a “Passport“, which guided me on a trip through the event’s green destinations. Each eco-location gives you a stamp, and at the end a full passport gives you a shot at winning some great prizes.
The Panhandle Solar Stage
One of Eco Lands’ defining features was the solar-powered stage that took advantage of the weekend’s gorgeous weather to amp up the festival’s green cred. Set up by Sustainable Waves, the stage was powered by two massive solar arrays provided by PG&E and featured some great acts including indie favorites Portugal, the Man (featured above), Deerhunter, and Bat for Lashes.
Eco Concessions Aplenty
Upon further exploration I was surprised to find a miniature farmers market had popped up in the center of the meadow and was peddling peaches, strawberries, and other treats. Nearby a line of organic food stands offered an alluring range of vegetarian and vegan options, providing a welcome respite to the fried-everything offered elsewhere in the festival.
PG&E’s Volunteer Center
For those looking for some shade, PG&E set up a café where zonked-out festival-goers could relax on found furniture reclaimed from landfills, check their carbon footprint, and volunteer and support some great green organizations.
The festival did a great job of providing plentiful recycling and composting bins, which were enforced in some cases by flyswatter-bearing volunteers who taught hapless trash sorters a lesson they won’t soon forget. Eco Lands also featured a recycling store, which provided prizes in exchange for returning recyclables salvaged from the festival grounds. It was kind of a pity though that the reward for returning ten plastic bottles was – another plastic bottle.
Solar Cell Phone Charging Stations
Keeping your cellphone charged during a ten-hour festival can be a challenge, which is why Collective Good‘s solar-powered cellphone charging booth was quite a hit. Powered by one of PG&E’s towering solar arrays crowned with a wind turbine, the tent offered to recycle old phones and give current ones a (carbon) free charge.
By their very nature festivals result in a tremendous convergence of people, which presents a great environmental challenge when you consider the waste they create, the energy they consume, and the carbon footprint incurred by travel to the event. Through smart planning this year’s Eco Lands addressed all of these issues and did a great job of educating and encouraging concert-goers to making sustainable choices. I just hope to see it return on a larger scale – how about powering all of the stages next year with solar power?
All photos by Mike Chino