The press tent at Telluride Bluegrass was abuzz with the topic of sustainability. My favorite quote was from Craig Shelburne of CMT.com: “I have never heard the word ’sustainable’ so much in my life.”
Steve Szymanski stopped by the press area on Friday evening for a lengthy discussion about “sustainable festivation” with Daniel Costello, Program Director of KVNF (Paonia, CO). The 25-minute interview aired July 7 on the KVNF Midday Edition.
Daniel is not afraid to ask the tough questions: what does it mean to be “carbon neutral?” How do we really calculate the festival’s carbon footprint? How do the festival vendors respond to our sustainability mandates?
It’s an interesting listen. And as an added bonus, occasionally you can hear Tim O’Brien performing on the main stage, taking place just a few hundred feet away.
The weekend before Telluride Bluegrass, Planet Bluegrass VP, Steve Szymanski, was a guest on the nationally syndicated radio show Living on Earth. The hour-long weekly show - devoted to environmental topics - airs on approximately 300 Public Radio stations.
A taste of the interview:
GELLERMAN: Steve do you think there’s something about bluegrass music that lends itself naturally to the message and behaviors you’re trying to change.
SYZMANSKI: You know I do, but I really think our venues out here in Colorado really just speak to the beauty and the pristine nature of Telluride. Folks immediately get itâ€”I think its wired in that this is a beautiful place, we need to keep this place beautiful, and we need to preserve it. And so we’re lucky enough I think to have nature in everyone’s face all the time and so I think it’s been a little easier messaging around that because it’s just so obvious that this kind of environment is only possible if we take care of our event.
Jambase.com, one of our favorite live music websites, has done an admirable job of covering the environmental sustainability issues facing the music industry through their extremely thoughtful and insightful GreenBase blog. Since April 18, 2007, the blog’s team of writers have been covering (and uncovering) the news, trends, and realities of our industry. As they have consistently proven to unafraid of calling out “greenwashing” even among the major music festivals, they serve as a much-needed watchdog in our music industry / environmental sustainability world.
And in the spirit of Greenbase writer, Jason Turgeon, who often ends his posts with a YouTube clip, here’s one of the acts we’re looking forward to at this year’s Telluride Bluegrass (their only show of 2008!)…
It took off because of very clever marketing that prayed on our ideas about health and wellness and beauty and weight loss and things like that and we were told that we needed to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate and drink 8 ounce glasses a day and so portability became really important and that marketing worked really, really well. It turned bottled water from a $150 million a year industry in 1990 to a $11.5 billion a year industry in 2007.
Elizabeth goes on to talk a little about the differences between tap water and bottled water…
“I think people really don’t know anything about where their water comes from. People don’t know whether they’re drinking groundwater or surface water, they don’t know what’s in their watershed and they just have a lot of questions about it and they don’t go and find out what’s in there and it’s really easy to find…”
As we prepared to mount our “drink local” campaign at Telluride Bluegrass, we talked with Tellurideâ€™s water treatment plant superintendent, Bill Goldsworthy. It turns out the townâ€™s water comes directly from two sources: one that begins above treeline high up in the Mill Creek Basin north of town, where it is collected out of Mill Creek into a small settling pond at 9,600 feet on a ridge just north of the Shell Station on the valley floor. The other source begins at 11,600 feet at the top of Coronet Creek, which feeds the Still Well reservoir, located at 9,500 feet near the Jud Wiebe Trail just off of Tomboy Road. From these two tributaries, itâ€™s a short journey to the treatment plant just west of town, where it is treated and then stored in two 250,000 gallon tanks off of Tomboy Road.
Though both sources require chlorine treatment by federal law, at the Festival we’ll be filtering out the chlorine along with other particles. Our specially-designed filter stations utilize a pair of reasonably-priced commercial filters to assure that the tap tastes even better than the bottle. The filters will be easily visible, along with a water meter, so everyone knows exactly what we’re doing to the water. And so everyone can monitor the scope of this change (using the water meter) away from bottled water.
With plastics back in the news again, this came through cyberspace yesterday from our friends at Econscious Market. Here’s the gist (and have a look at their Eco-Times Blog)…
Bisphenol-A and Polycarbonate Plastic
Plastic is hard to avoid, but when it comes to food and drink containers, recent evidence suggests that it’s time to read the fine print. Nalgene bottles, and most plastic baby bottles are made with polycarbonate, a hard and strong plastic that has the potential to leach bisphenol A. Bisphenol A (BPA), which is used to make many hard plastic toys, bottles and food containers, is thought to mimic the hormone estrogen. Recent independent studies link the chemical to breast cancer, obesity, infertility and insulin-resistance in rodents. Health Canada is expected to classify bisphenol A as a dangerous substance later this month. Although the jury is still out on exposure levels and direct effects on humans, it is best to play it safe, especially when it comes to infants and children.
Plastics to Choose: #2, #4 and #5
Ever wonder about the coding system on the bottom of plastic bottles and what they really meant? Well, now’s the time to learn. Most bottles are labeled for recycling purposes, but these codes are helpful in telling us what kinds of plastic was used to manufacture the bottles. Luckily, preventing exposure to polycarbonate plastic bottles is easy if you choose glass, stainless steel, or safer plastic (#2, #4 or #5) bottles.
So what types of plastics are the lesser of evils? #2 HDPE (high-density polyethylene), #4 LDPE (low-density polyethylene) and #5 PP (polypropylene) are typically opaque in color and are not known to contain carcinogens or hormone-disrupting chemicals. The number to stay away from? #7 Polycarbonate.
Surely this blog is long overdue. Brian has had the blog infrastructure ready for a few weeks now. My excuse? Finding time to write can be umm…hard as is getting in the habit of doing it on a regular basis. But, it’s all about breaking old habits and forming new ones.
And with so much growing interest in reducing our footprint on everything from the energy we use to the food we eat, this blog is now another avenue to pass on the latest info that comes across my desk almost daily. Frequently I try to scan this stuff but just as often I have to file it for later consumption, especially during the festival season. So hopefully those who find the myriad issues surrounding sustainable living interesting reading will scan some of this info and share your thoughts and ideas as well.
And with that, onward we go towards the 2008 festival season. See all of you soon!