Dianna Cohen, co-founder of the Plastic Pollution Coalition, is on a mission to reduce plastic waste at concerts and music festivals.
Her project, Plastic Free Touring, was “born out of our love for and our involvement with the music community.” Thus far Cohen’s coalition has worked with the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival; Crosby, Stills and Nash; Jackson Browne and Ben Harper in cutting the significant plastic footprint that concerts traditionally leave behind.
According to LA Weekly, the mega music venues such as Coachella, Electric Daisy Carnival, Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo can generate “literally tons of trash” from fans, vendors and artists. In the cases where hundreds of thousands of people converge on one location, the related carbon emissions from one event alone can be a major environmental bummer.
The Plastic Free Touring project offers concertgoers stainless-steel containers in lieu of single-use disposable cups. At Bonnaroo, 7,500 were made available, and patrons who bought them got to enjoy the additional bonus of $1 off every beer they purchased during the weekend event, as well as infinite water refills.
“After they sold out, people actually started stealing them from each other,” Cohen told Rolling Stone. “They were very coveted.”
This year will mark the second partnership between Bonnaroo and PFT.
Cohen herself is an artist. Twenty-five years ago she was making 3-D installations out of plastic. It was only after she’d been working with the material for some time that she learned more about its non-biodegradable nature.
“In 2008 I came up with a proposal to go out to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch with a cargo ship, two decommissioned fishing trawlers, a cold molding machine and a crane,” she told the magazine. “I had this idea I could venture out to an island and begin collecting the plastic in the ocean, which I assumed was an island.”
Further research yielded the depressing fact that the ocean is filled with microplastic and can’t simply be scooped up. As 5 Gyres and other organizations have proven, this is an ongoing, ever-growing problem.
“I decided to back up, look at the bigger picture and figure out how to bring awareness and source reduction rather than trying to clean up what’s already there,” she said. “Not that I don’t think we’re going to have to figure out how to clean up the oceans.”
Plastic Free Touring is an ongoing project that also seeks to transform smaller venues as well, and Cohen hopes to eventually change people’s mindsets regarding bottled water.