Part of the Official Guide to Lollapalooza’s Green Street
By Brian Hieggelke
Like every major event in Grant Park, Lollapalooza patrons generate tons of waste. We’ve always been impressed, though, by how earnestly Lollapalooza works to mitigate its impact on the park, and the environment in general, by on-site initiatives as well as the larger emphasis on social causes that the Lolla Cares section of Green Street promotes. We corresponded by email with Alysha N. Hernández, who oversees environmental initiatives for the festival, about this topic.
With so many festival goers spending three days in Grant Park, eating and drinking as well as listening to music, Lollapalooza must generate tons of garbage.
The Festival has many diversion efforts in place to keep waste out of the landfill. Grant Park is cherished by Lollapalooza and its festival producers, C3 Presents. In 2014, for example, our waste diversion efforts at the festival resulted in 131 tons of recycled or composted material thanks to fans and staff. Lollapalooza works hard to keep Grant Park and the planet healthy and enjoyable for generations to come. We also work to engage the patrons to join in the act, so it’s a two-pronged waste diversion approach… .the festival producers and the patrons. The success of the recycling and composting programs requires participation from everyone!
Minimizing environmental impact is a core value of Lollapalooza. What do you do to encourage recycling?
One of the main ways the festival encourages recycling among patrons is by making the right thing to do for the environment, the easy thing to do for the patron. This means that each trashcan is paired with its own recycling bin. Keeping them close together, makes doing the right thing easier! Signage, posted throughout the park, asks patrons to keep the park clean and divert waste from landfills by selecting the correct bin before tossing waste. Waste diversion is practiced both backstage with staff and front-of-house. One great program Lollapalooza has is Rock & Recycle. The idea is to reward fans who collect and turn in recyclables with prizes, like t-shirts, a chance to win a bike or 2016 Festival tickets.
Jumbotrons also feature reminders to recycle and partake in the Rock & Recycle Program.
Do you have ways to motivate vendors to use “greener” packaging products?
Compostable products are used as much as possible and all food vendors are required to follow strict environmental service guidelines. Chow Town has both front and back-of-house composting; and food vendors are required to use eco-friendly plates, napkins and utensils. Sustainability guidelines are in effect throughout the festival, including bans on Styrofoam, plastic bags and flyers. Individual creamers for coffee and condiment packages are avoided by using large pump-style containers for things like mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise. Many of the sustainability guidelines can save the vendors money while saving the environment.
What’s the cleanup process like?
Engaging fans in the decision-making process of where they should place their waste is the first step to a successful waste diversion program and a clean park. It goes back to the idea that what is good for the park and earth, is easy to do. After that, there is a clear plan on-site to sort waste properly with various teams sweeping the area for recyclables, compostables and waste. Everything is strategic and clean-up crews remain diligent about keeping recycling, compost and landfill waste separate.
When the festival is over, what do you do to restore the park to its previous condition? How long does it take and how many people work on it?
The operation is always scalable. We do what it takes to restore the park and leave it better than how we found it.
What can festival attendees do to minimize their impact? They can’t bring their own reusable food and drink containers due to security concerns, or can they?
We encourage patrons and staff to bring their own reusable water bottle! Special water stations, provided by a partnership with Event Water Solutions and Camelbak, are strategically placed in high traffic areas throughout the park to offer free, freshly filtered water to all attendees. This means creating hydrated, healthy, happy patrons, who also are mitigating waste by not using a disposable plastic bottle. This process reduces the number of disposable plastic water bottles used at Lollapalooza. In 2014, 376,500 refillable bottles were filled. With these water stations, the festival prevented the use of plastic bottles by refilling 1,412,500 water bottles since 2010.
Some other things attendees can do… use the compost and recycling bins or join in the Rock & Recycle Program. Use eco-friendly transportation to reduce carbon emissions to and from the Festival. Ride your bikes, walk or use city transit systems! The Festival features a free bike parking area. Patrons should also go digital by downloading the Official Lolla App or Digital Program.
Anything else we should know about?
We want to make a greater impact. We know waste is inevitable with a festival of this magnitude so Lollapalooza offsets the carbon dioxide emissions of festival vehicles, generators, staff travel and artist travel by purchasing certified carbon offsets from Green Mountain Energy. At the end of Lollapalooza last year, almost 19,000,000 pounds of carbon dioxide had been offset by Lollapalooza Chicago.