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Making Music Festivals More Sustainable in the Age of Climate Change

In her Washington Post article outlining the environmental impacts of music festivals, author Julia Gray paints a damning picture of the contributions music festivals have to our ongoing and increasing climate crisis. The parting thought of her introductory paragraph reads, “What’s the point of music if it’ll only hurt us in the end?”

Gray’s reporting describes the many ways in which music festivals are beginning to acknowledge, account for, and reduce their carbon footprint. This includes bans on single-use plastics, preferred modes of travel to and from festivals, and installing “green teams” to personally sort recyclables from garbage. Gray adds, “...in line with contemporary big biz, entertainment companies are encouraged to reflect on their carbon footprint and outline goals to make their productions more sustainable.”

2021 EDC Las Vegas

Music festivals like EDC Festival continue to explore ways to reduce their environmental impact.

This article uncovers an inconvenient reality... events are just plain dirty. One aspect she doesn’t touch on, however, is the actual power generation required at each festival. The main stage alone at a major event can employ three 800KVA diesel generators that emit over 190,000lbs of CO2 emissions each over a three-day span. Combined, that is the equivalent of nearly 60 cars being used for an entire year! That’s just one stage. For three days. Multiply that across the $31 billion global music festival industry and the environmental impact of power at music festivals is astronomical!

That’s why at Joule Case we feel so strongly that we can help music festivals create a more sustainable future. With our scalable battery technology, each of the carbon emitting generators can be replaced by clean battery systems. 

We appreciate the recent efforts by Coldplay to bring attention to the issue of sustainable practices at music events, but outside of the use of a completely novel and unscalable battery system using recycled BMW i3 batteries, much of what they’re doing is greenwashing… looking good and generating publicity but not actually making a measurable impact on their environmental impact.

That’s exactly why we value our partnership with Treefort Music Fest and hope it will become the model for music festivals everywhere. A Certified B-Corp, Treefort has entrusted Joule Case with many of their power needs, replacing generators with batteries. This partnership has created outcomes that have greatly reduced carbon emissions during the festival, boosted their B-Corp rating, and have created a better experience for both the attendees and the acts themselves.

Quoted in the article, Jon Christensen, who teaches environmental communications at UCLA, says, “The desire to celebrate together through music will not be repressed. If we can’t have beauty and joy while addressing the climate crisis, we won’t succeed.”

We agree.

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