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Published: 2009/06/12

From the Bonnaroo Beacon: 80,000 People Can Create A Minor Revolution

By Kevin Borgia
The Mad River Valley of Vermont is known for its lush pine forests, dairy farms, bed and breakfasts, and of course, the skiing. But out of this idyllic locale also comes a unique organization combining the regions history of environmental sustainability with a little winter sports flavor.
Carbon Shredders is a non-profit organization that originated in several communities in Vermont with a strong commitment to individual sustainability, and the group is once again bringing their unique brand of environmentalism from the Green Mountain State to these Tennessee Hills.
Carbon Shredders is about realizing that every decision you make has an impact, both on social systems and environmental systems, and how you can help people think about that, says the groups Gregor Barnum, who also serves as Director of Corporate Consciousness at Seventh Generation, the Burlington, VT-based detergent and household products company.
The group began several years ago when a handful of communities in the Mad River Valley made a pact to reduce their carbon emissions 10 percent by 2010, Barnum says. But Carbon Shredders has since broadened to become a larger network of concerned citizens doing their part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Thanks to Carbon Shredders, festivalgoers stopping by the groups booth in Planet Roo will be able to easily calculate their own annual carbon footprint and learn useful ways to reduce their environmental impact, both during Bonnaroo and in their daily lives.
In partnership with the website Do Your Part, Carbon Shredders will help festival-goers take the first steps toward reducing their carbon footprint, simply by entering data about their annual miles driven, home electric and natural gas use, recycling habits and other information. The website will then provide an estimate of your annual carbon impact, and show you ways to take action, often at little or no cost.
Barnum says fans can discover unique and easy ways to lessen their burden on the planets resources at the Carbon Shredders booth, including: how to increase carpooling, how to motivate your community to increase public transportation, how to buy green energy, how to reduce your energy use at home, and other positive actions.
While he says that some actions can cost more than business-as-usual, many ways to reduce our carbon emissions are free, and some can even save money.
One sure-fire way to reduce ones carbon footprint can be as simple as doing the laundry, Barnum says, explaining that washing clothes in cold water and drying on low-heat or (even better) on a clothes line can drastically reduce resource use.
As an executive with a company that prides itself on green detergents, Barnum knows this is a major way to reduce emissions, adding that the largest impact of detergents isnt manufacturing or transportation, but in how the customer uses it.
This is but one example, Barnum says, and Carbon Shredders can show fans countless other ways to reduce their environmental impact. Its about lifestyle change, Barnum says. We need to think about how every decision affects other aspects of our world.
Barnum is also hopeful that the groups appearance at Bonnaroo will create broader change than just pushing a few green music fans to recycle. Were 80,000 people, we can create a minor revolution here.
Barnum says that fans can even make a commitment to take certain steps, reduce their carbon footprint, and track progress toward a set goal. Festival-goers could make similar commitments last year, and Carbon Shredders hopes to see some success stories return to the booth this year.
According to Bonnaroos Laura Sohn, the Carbon Shredders program is a great complement to the festivals overall environmental goals.
Its really a great way to interact with fans, Sohn says, adding that the Carbon Shredders program can send ripples throughout the Bonnaroo community.
Sohn says Bonnaroo has always sought ways to reduce its environmental impact while benefiting the local community, and this years initiatives are ground-breaking.
Quite literally ground-breaking. 2009 marks the first year the stages at Bonnaroo wont be lit by diesel-powered generators, Sohn says. She explains that the festival laid permanent electric lines during the year, allowing Bonnaroo to tie into the local Tennessee Valley Authority electric grid.
Using electricity provides a massive reduction in carbon emissions over previous years, and the festival is even spending extra cash to support green energy sources.
This electricity initiative combines with Bonnaroos robust recycling efforts, sponsored this year by Odwalla. Last year, the festival recycled more than 40 tons of waste, and organizers are hoping for much higher numbers this year.
Bonnaroo is also undertaking an enormous composting effort that will divert more than 10 tons of waste from reaching a landfill. The compost will remain onsite, and will be used on the Bonnaroo organic vegetable garden.

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