Pho­to by Eli Duke

Every­one knows fes­ti­vals aren’t the most sus­tain­able pub­lic gath­er­ing out there. It’s no sur­prise that thou­sands of peo­ple gath­er­ing in a con­fined space with an excess of plas­tic, elec­tric­i­ty, sewage, and all the oth­er forms of waste you can think of, is not going to be great for the envi­ron­ment. While we’re not try­ing to harp on any­one’s parade, there is some­thing to be admired in a fes­ti­val like Pickathon, which goes above and beyond to make sure it’s impact is min­i­mal. Here’s some things Pickathon is doing to make their fes­ti­val more friend­ly on all fronts:

Plas­tic Free

Since 2010 Pickathon has been com­mit­ted to elim­i­nat­ing all plas­tic at the fes­ti­val. Pickathon elim­i­nat­ed all sin­gle-use cups, bot­tles, dish­es, and uten­sils, mean­ing it’s the only out­door music fes­ti­val in the US to min­i­mize sin­gle-use cups, dish­ware, and utensils.

Pho­to by Eli Duke

Recy­cling & Renewable 

Pickathon’s recy­cling and com­post staff is made up of vol­un­teers who spend most of the fes­ti­val round­ing up every­thing that can be either recy­cled or com­post­ed. Obvi­ous­ly they aren’t the only fes­ti­val to offer recy­cling, but their pri­or­i­ty in mak­ing sure that all waste is being prop­er­ly dis­posed of is unprece­dent­ed. In addi­tion they also use a renew­able ener­gy source, solar pan­els, which pro­vide the fes­ti­val with it’s pow­er. Sup­pos­ed­ly the ener­gy gen­er­at­ed by the pan­els dur­ing the year off­sets all of the ener­gy used dur­ing the entire fes­ti­val, includ­ing elec­tric­i­ty used by ven­dors. Not to men­tion all their gen­er­a­tors are solar. 

Free Water

While this might seem obvi­ous, water is actu­al­ly a huge com­mod­i­ty at out­door fes­ti­vals, often times peo­ple at Burn­ing Man pack in cas­es upon cas­es of drink­ing water just to have stock for the whole fes­ti­val. At Pickathon there is plen­ty of free drink­ing water through­out Pen­darvis Farm. Just don’t for­get to bring your own con­tain­ers. Kleen Kan­teen also spon­sors the fes­ti­val and gives every atten­dant a sig­na­ture Pickathon cup to use while at the festival. 

Pho­to by Ali­son Jean Cole


While yes rules might not always be fun, some­times they’re nec­es­sary, espe­cial­ly if you’re try­ing to min­i­mize your impact you’re going to need some seri­ous restric­tions. Pickathon has a hand­ful of rules which all con­tribute to their sus­tain­abil­i­ty efforts in their own way. For instance all alco­hol must be bought with­in the fes­ti­val and while this might obvi­ous­ly ben­e­fit the providers it’s also an easy way to con­trol the waste. In addi­tion, it’s ille­gal to destroy any native plants, pets are not allowed, smok­ing is des­ig­nat­ed to small areas, and there are no firearms, fire­works, or fires.