By Jenzo DuQue
More than twenty years after its debut as a roving summer festival, Lollapalooza lives on in its Chicago home base, attracting more than 250,000 attendees and compiling one of the most diverse line-ups in popular music. Now the festival roves in a different way, by expanding beyond the borders of Grant Park and into South America since 2011. Chile was the first to greet founder Perry Farrell, debuting the festival in the nation’s capital, Santiago, followed a year later by a São Paulo, Brazil outpost. Today, Argentina prepares for its second round in Buenos Aires, to take place in spring 2015.
As sister festivals, the South American Lollapaloozas have done more than bring bands to the masses—they’ve followed Lollapalooza’s lead in gearing social change and environmental consciousness. Much like the ever-growing Green Street, Lollapaloozas in Chile and Argentina create Green Villages (Aldeas Verdes), spaces where NGOs and businesses from across the country promote sustainable entrepreneurship and green reform. Last year, Argentina organized a fair of sustainable products created by its Metropolitan Center of Design, including an interactive mural of the festival’s name made from recycled scraps. Chile alone boasts more than seventy stands in their village, ranging from the big leagues like Reforest Patagonia, a nonprofit dedicated to restoring degraded ecosystems, to smaller endeavors like Ruca-Pop tents, a green pop-up hotel where concertgoers relax in between sets.
Aside from a dialogue on green initiatives in the day to day, the Lollapaloozas advocate for eco-friendly living during the festival itself. Each variation sports a series of free bike racks for those who wish to avoid driving and parking. Public transit is highly recommended across the board, especially in Brazil, where the air quality of the region is of particular concern. São Paulo’s ride-sharing program attempts to reduce the congestion of major traffic arteries and carbon emissions by incentivizing carpoolers with vouchers for food and drink. Just like in Chicago, waste generation is kept to a minimum through recycling programs that have been adapted according to the unique needs of each country.
While all of these efforts have their parallels in the United States, South American Lollapaloozas emphasize education at a young age. It’s never too soon for children to learn the value of protecting their environment—just look at Brazil’s special Kidzapalooza Workshop, where the youngest music fans are taught about the dangers of generating waste irresponsibly. Similarly, Chile’s Rock & Recycle campaign has formed partnerships with high schools and scout groups, whose teams of volunteers work the festival as part of a competition. Apart from monitoring the recycling bins and teaching attendees how to sort their garbage, Chilean teens also wander through the park grounds with bags to encourage conscientious waste disposal. The volunteers who recycle the most attend an illustrious ceremony, headed by Carolina Tohá, the mayor of Santiago. In partnership with Lotus Productions, the official booking agency of Lollapalooza Chile, the top volunteers also receive a series of prizes, including a one-day trip to Valle Nevado ski resort, concert tickets, guitars and bicycles.
Chile’s 1600 volunteers recycled forty percent of the waste—equal to 12.8 tons of material—generated during last year’s festival.
However, Lollapaloozas in South America are just as concerned with their potential negative impact on the environment. The use of diesel generators and recycled materials are a good place to start, but it’s not enough for the sister festivals. Each is labeled a carbon-neutral event, meaning the festival’s partners and organizers compensate for the carbon emissions generated by Lollapalooza. Chile, Argentina and Brazil do not offer a three-dollar deal like in Chicago because carbon offsets are too expensive at their current value. Instead, accredited companies calculate the amount of carbon Lollapalooza produces and certify coverage of all the major activities within the festivals and beyond, including international flights, set-up, transportation and shows. Alvaro Morales, sustainability director of Lotus Productions, anticipates a quadruple increase in carbon emissions from Chile’s previous years. Fortunately, Pacific Hydro houses a hydroelectricity plant in southern Chile, and is pending on the final carbon count for this year’s festival.
Whether it’s up-and-coming music or support for surrounding and international communities, the sister Lollapaloozas have learned from the best. There are plenty of great causes, ideas and projects at work in South America—many of which sprouted from the foundation Farrell has built over the years. It’s clear that Lollapalooza expects as much from its attendees at home as it does abroad, and with this much of a running start, the green spirit has arrived and is here to stay.