Sustainable City - Virgin Fest Goes Green

The planning behind this year's instalment of the Virgin Festival has involved more than just recruiting talent and figuring out if The Killers should play before Bjork on day 1 or The Smashing Pumpkins on day 2. The Virgin brand also wants to send a message that they are environmentally responsible and they are trying to be as green as possible.

This past week I sat down and spoke with the director of this year's festival. Based on some of the initiatives that they started at festivals in Vancouver and Baltimore earlier this year, the Toronto instalment of the festival is aiming to be carbon neutral. Some of the organizations they have partnered with include Zerofootprint, Flickoff, Global Inheritance, and Environmental Defence.

A top 10 list of initiatives can be found after the jump.

1. All food and drink materials will be biodegradable
2. Separate bins for recycling and composting will be set up across the festival grounds
3. Garbage will also be "post-sorted", meaning that recyclable and compostable materials that were wrongly trashed will be re-sorted
4. Concert goers can trade in empty water bottles for T-shirts and other V-mobile swag at the TRASHed recycling store
5. A life-sized chess game with a global warming theme will be played out (e.g. scientists vs. policy makers, good vs. evil, etc.)
6. New trees will be planted on the island following the festival (last year 50 trees were planted, this year there will be many more)
7. Generators used to power the festival will use biofuels
8. Flickoff will be onsite to provide educational resources
9. Organizers are working with Zerofootprint to measure their carbon footprint
10. Carbon offsets will be purchased at the end of the festival

Beyond these commitments for this year's festival, Virgin is interested in exploring new ways of greening future festivals. Perhaps solar collectors could be used to generate more power or other methods of water delivery may be explored.

What other ways do you think large music festivals can lessen their environmental impact?

Photo: "The Dears" by blogTO Flickr pooler JohnnyC

Sustainable City is a weekly column that explores current events and environmental issues in Toronto that impact the health and well being of urban city dwellers.

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