Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mariposa: The Greening of a Music Festival

The hills are alive with the sound of music.
Summertime and the living is easy.

This is the time of year when we kick back and enjoy life at a slower pace. It's also when the music festival scene kicks into high gear and whether its rock, jazz, blues or folk there is a festival for every taste and every genre.

High energy concerts take an inordinate amount of energy to run and the single biggest energy use is getting back and forth from the concert. While finding alternative transportation is the greenest thing that you can do festivals are now seeing that there carbon footprint can also be shrunk.

In honor of Canada Day we look at the efforts of one of the oldest folk festivals on the continent and see how after 50 years they are starting to reinvent themselves in a green hue.

Approaching its 50th anniversary next year the Mariposa Folk Festival is also celebrating the 10th anniversary of its return to its Orillia roots. Over the course of its long history the annual event has been hosted in Toronto and neighboring Barrie.

Greening Mariposa, as the new environmental initiative is known, focuses on five key areas to reduce Mariposa's carbon footprint. These measures are: Bring Your Own Cup (BYOC); Composting; Cycling; Souvenir Program; and Virtual Audience Survey campaigns.

"As this is really our first year at such an initiative our focus is to reduce the amount of non-biodegradable waste produced at the festival," says Aaron Howes, Chair of the Green Team, Member of Mariposa Folk Foundation Board of Directors. "We will be aiming for a water bottle free festival and to use biodegradable serving materials wherever possible."
Mariposa Folk Festival celebrates 50 years by going green.
The festival has added water "hydration" stations this year in the hopes of eliminating single use plastic water bottles. The Bring Your Own Cup campaign, primarily aimed at the festivals volunteer base is a case of leading by example. Festival organizers are also encouraging volunteers and attendees to cycle to the Festival.

"Other initiatives include our festival programme and posters being created by Rose Printing who is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified. We are also moving the audience survey online to eliminate paper usage at the festival," states Howes.

Throughout the festival's three day run volunteers will work the crowds and collect email addresses. Afterward, concert goers will be queried electronically for their thoughts on the Festival and their overall experience in attending Mariposa.

Composting is also being introduced this year and Mariposa has purchased biodegradable cups and utensils for its food stands and beer tent. Compost bins will be set up throughout the grounds with volunteers to sort through the detritus.

While there are no hybrid vehicles to shuttle talent back and forth from the grounds organizers are hoping to make a difference with the artists. "In terms of the artists we will be supplying them with hard reusable plastic mugs to fill up with water over the weekend. And all the supplies used in the Green Room will now be biodegradable."

With the Festival kicking off this weekend, Howes is already looking to expand Mariposa's environmental efforts next year. "In our second year we will be adding to our strategy to include energy usage at the festival amongst some other sustainable strategies."

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