On 3 sunny, bone-dry days between April 12th and 14th, 2019, thousands of fans gathered in Indio, California to attend one of the most popular commercial music festivals in the world: Coachella.
Since its inaugural year in 1999, Coachella has seen its attendance rise from less than 40,000 to over 250,000 in 2017. That’s a lot of traffic for a city with less than 100,000 residents.
Many festival-goers view Coachella as an escape from reality. For some, that may mean from responsibilities as well.
An environmental impact report from Indio reported that festivals like Coachella can generate an average of 106 tons of waste per day. Coachella now spans 6 days each year, which means the event potentially creates 636 tons of trash in total.
The report did not specify how much of that waste was collected litter, but firsthand eyewitnesses can verify how rampant littering is at Coachella.
Part of the problem lies in the very nature of a popular music festival.
“I don’t really want to push through a crowd and lose my spot just to throw away a water bottle,” one anonymous attendee was quoted. Tickets for the 3-day event were $430 at face value, and festival-goers could expect to spend well over $700 total to cover hotel and food expenses.
Coachella has begun to implement recycling and rewards programs to raise awareness about waste, though no public data exists on their effectiveness.
The report stated that 20% of the collected waste will be recycled.