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Sustainability Tips: SnowGlobe Music Festival

We chat with Marina McCoy, who runs the sustainability program in partnership with SnowGlobe and her company Waste Free Earth.
Snowglobe Music Festival

There is a growing awareness in the music business that its carbon footprint is unsustainable. We are seeing more artists use their voice to combat climate change, go plastic-free, vegan or offset their travel. Events are also feeling the heat, getting fans to participate in clean ups, be better about recycling and lowering their carbon footprint. SnowGlobe Music Festival is trying to do that with their new sustainability programs.

In 2017, the festival partnered with The Sugar Pine Foundation to plant sugar pine trees in Lake Tahoe. 1,071 seedlings were sponsored from the 2019 event and almost 2,000 sponsored seedlings since the partnership began. Additionally, through SnowGlobe’s sustainability program with Waste Free Earth, the festival was able to donate over 3,704 pounds of fresh food, water, and housing products to 7 different organizations in the Lake Tahoe region. Through the program, SnowGlobe says they were able to decrease overall waste by 76% in 2019 from 2018. Of the waste that was produced onsite, SnowGlobe was able to divert 75% away from landfills and into recycling.

It is important to note that this feature was put together before the lawsuit brought against SnowGlobe by the Center For Environmental Health became public. The lawsuit alleges that SnowGlobe had benzene levels higher in 2018 (not 2019) than what is allowed under CA Prop. 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, according to the Tahoe Daily Tribune. The act lists Benzene as causing cancer and reproduction toxicity.

In response, SnowGlobe gave us this statement.

“CEH’s Proposition 65 lawsuit is about not having warning signs on site during the 2018 Festival. SnowGlobe disputes that the 2018 Festival operations released ‘significant amounts’ of benzene, as CEH alleged, or any amount of benzene above California’s highly conservative ‘safe harbor’ levels. SnowGlobe also disputes that CEH used a valid method for determining benzene exposures at the 2018 Festival. In 2019, as a precautionary measure to avoid further litigation, SnowGlobe posted warning signs, although SnowGlobe strongly disputes that there were any exposures to benzene due to Festival operations above California’s ‘safe harbor’ levels," says a spokesperson.

"Because of SnowGlobe’s commitment to the environment and to avoid litigation with this environmental group, it has entered into a settlement with CEH regarding the Proposition 65 warning sign requirements. Our long- term goal for SnowGlobe is to transition into a completely sustainable event -- an ambition inspired both by the South Lake Tahoe community's culture of environmentalism and our team's personal belief in the importance of conscientious and ethical event planning. We're happy to report that with guidance from the amazing team at Waste Free Earth, we've made significant steps year over year towards reaching our goal.”

With all of this in mind, we asked Marina McCoy, who runs the sustainability program in partnership with SnowGlobe and her company Waste Free Earth, to answer some questions for our Sustainability Tips feature.

1. How do you manage your carbon footprint as a festival?

One of the ways we help offset our carbon footprint at SnowGlobe is by purchasing sugar pine seedlings from the Sugar Pine Foundation. Not only are we helping take carbon out of the atmosphere, but we are also helping reforest and restore Lake Tahoe after the major fires that came through in years past. To date, we have been able to donate and repopulate the Sugar Pine tree by 2,000 seedlings since 2017!

2. What do you do or are doing to be greener when creating SnowGlobe?

We try to incorporate sustainability into every aspect of the event, from working with each department head to ensure that they understand our sustainability guidelines and what is expected of them. Additionally, working with department heads and other staff members to eliminate waste from the source, implement reusable options, or lastly offer up options that are 100% recyclable or compostable. From an attendee's perspective, we educate the crowd through social media posts and updates on our website to begin to create a culture of sustainability before arriving at the event. While onsite, we have a sustainability booth where we educate the crowd on more environmentally sound solutions through engagements and contests.

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3. What can you do to make your events more sustainable?

In the future, we want to incorporate more reusables in place of disposables for SnowGlobe attendees. We would also like to start tracking our carbon footprint and work on offsetting it in addition to our yearly sugar pine donations.

4. Outside of work, how are you looking to make your life more sustainable?

I've been living zero waste for the past six years, meaning I can fit a year's worth of garbage (items that are non-recyclable or non-compostable) into one mason jar. My main passion is educating people on how they can reduce their waste through simple, cost-friendly techniques. I also decided to cut my plane travel by 50% in 2019 and plan to continue to take fewer flights whenever I can.

5. What are the products or brands you look to as being sustainable and useful for your work?

We love partnering with companies that have a similar mission to us in reducing the use of single-use plastics. A great partnership is, Klean Kanteen, which provides the water refill stations and reusable drinking vessels.

6. How can fans be greener when attending music events?

Fans can be greener while attending music festivals by bringing their own reusables with them, cups, water bottles, and utensils. When dressing up for the event, we always recommend avoiding single-use materials like glow sticks, glitter, and feather boas that tend to pollute the grounds. Instead, we love to see upcycled outfits that people made their own or got from a second-hand store.

7. What do you want from DJs to become more sustainable?

We would love to see more environmental sound requests by DJs/Artists in their riders. Requesting for no single-use plastics, locally sourced food, and having composting and recycling available.

8. How have you seen the climate around Lake Tahoe change over the past 9 years SnowGlobe has been there?

Waste Free Earth has been working with SnowGlobe for the past five years, and within those years, we have seen significant improvements in the overall culture of sustainability around the lake. Regarding the climate, it is ever changing, and the recurring fires and droughts are major reasons why we feel like it is our social responsibility to make SnowGlobe more sustainable year after year. 

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