Ultra Music Festival – Sustainability at its Finest
Music festivals have become a right of passage for many young adults throughout the world. Every year millions of people will travel near and far to celebrate their love of music with tens of thousands of like-minded individuals. When you gather a mass quantity of people in a small area for a few days, you can expect a lot of food and drinks to be consumed. This is especially the case for camping fests, where the festival grounds become the temporary home for the fans. Sometimes this can result in quite the environmental impact. Thousands of plastic bottles will go unrecycled, millions of cigarette butts will be tossed aside and forgotten about, and other trash can be left behind with the mindset of “someone else will take care of that; after all, it’s their job to clean up my mess.”
I’m sure you’ve seen some of the aftermath photos of campsites left to rot and be cleaned up by volunteers and staff, heaps of garbage tumbling around as it is carried by the breeze across wide-open fields. Some festivals have taken serious action to help combat the environmental footprint that it leaves behind when the gates close; others have gone above and beyond to protect our planet. One of those music festivals is Ultra.
Sustainability and Beyond
In case you didn’t know, Ultra moved to a temporary new location for 2019, Virginia Key, Florida, became the home to the electronic music paradise. This is a venue that dreams are made of: 40-foot palm trees, blue waters, a cool breeze, and the salt air surround it. The new location did leave a lot of concerns for locals and environmental advocates; being so close to the ocean meant that any trash had a very high possibility of ending up in the Atlantic Ocean. Thankfully, these worries were soon pushed to the wayside at Ultra. This is in great thanks to Mission Home. Surfrider Miami, Debris Free Oceans, and even VolunteerCleanup.org rated Ultra Music Festival an “A” for their cleanup and recycling efforts.
The ‘Mission: Home’ sustainability plan actioned unprecedented shifts in internal operations while engaging vendors, crew, employees and attendees in working together to reduce environmental impact. Collectively, ‘Mission: Home’ initiatives avoided the use of 526,000 single-use plastic items and diverted 60,360 pounds of waste from landfills. 31% of the waste created during the festival was recycled or composted, and 100% of recycling loads were accepted by the local facility. Environmental education and awareness content reached 2.7 million people through social media and roughly 60,000 attendees per day for three days at the event.
The Mission: Home campaign included a ban on beach access, access to multiple water refill stations, a ban on polystyrene (Styrofoam), plastic straws, balloons, confetti, and streamers, a phase-out of merchandise plastic bags, and the distribution of free pocket ashtrays, among various other efforts. It’s great to see so many music festivals taking action to help protect our planet and the wildlife that call it home. Ultra has set the bar very high, but I expect they will surpass their already impressive numbers in 2020.