RockyGrass: Always working towards more Sustainable Festivation

Lyons, CO:  RockyGrass is a three day long festival filled with music, food and drink, arts and crafts, relaxation and fun diversions. Also, let's not forget tubing the river and campsite pickin' gatherings! RockyGrass is always looking for new ways to help practice Leave No Trace at their festival and has done an amazing job of building Sustainable Festivation as a community ethic. "How does one RockyGrass?", you ask. Click the video for some quick tips on enjoying RockyGrass.

RockyGrass has been going since 1973, but in 1992, Planet Bluegrass put down their roots in Lyons, Colorado. It has become a regular pilgrimage for many festivarians who make the trip to this stream-side oasis from all over the country. Each day, about 5,000 people fill the grass fields and riverbanks, enjoying a steady stream of entertainment from live bluegrass music performances, to workshops with experienced musicians, delicious food and beer, and many vendors with great art, jewelry, and clothing. Planet Bluegrass has learned a few tricks over the years to help reduce the typical impacts you might expect at festivals:


In 2008, Planet Bluegrass began providing free filtered water as a greener alternative to bottled water - and have also provided artists and crew with Klean Kanteens. Festivarians have embraced the change, and reusable bottles can be seen everywhere. In 2017, you would have been hard pressed to find a disposable water bottle anywhere! 


Just like water bottles, cups, as it turns out, are a big deal. With so many delicious New Belgium brews being poured over the weekend, disposables could add up very quickly. Planet Bluegrass has been working hard to promote BYO stainless steel and plastic pint glasses, and provides reusable (and recyclable!) plastic cups for those who don't have their own. Refills aren't free, but they are cheaper than filling a new cup!


2017 marked the second year of RockyGrass using BambooWare reusable dishes for the food vendors. The dishes - made of bamboo, sugarcane, and corn - can be dropped off at several collection stations spread throughout the festival grounds and are washed and reused, again and again. Compost and recycling can also be dropped off at the same stations. This change has meant a massive reduction in the festival's waste footprint. Bonus: they are much sturdier to eat out of than ANY disposable container. 


RockyGrass has worked with local composters to divert literal tons of compostable waste from the landfill and into fertilizing farmland. From packaging to utensils, they have switched just about every consumable item they can to compostables. Compost receptacles are available everywhere, and volunteers do their part to correct any composting mistakes.

Cleanest Campsite Challenge

Leave No Trace and Planet Bluegrass have teamed up for nearly ten years for the Annual Cleanest Campsite Challenge. Grand Prize winners get two passes and camping to next year's festival, and daily winners enjoy fun filled prize bags. Festivarians plan out clean and green camps, and work hard to make them a success. All team entries help spread the message, and give people a way to reflect on how they can, like RockyGrass, continue to better practice Leave No Trace. 

These are just some of the ways Planet Bluegrass supports Sustainable Festivation - get ideas about how you can reduce your festival impact on their website! For more, check out our YouTube channel or our Online Awareness Course for ways you can Leave No Trace whenever you're outside. 

We hope you enjoyed RockyGrass, and Enjoy Your World!

--Amanda and Junaid, Team East Central

Leave No Trace's Amanda Jameson and Junaid Dawud are part of the 2017 Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer Program that provides free, mobile education to communities across the country. Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, REI, Eagles Nest Outfitters, Deuter, Thule, Klean Kanteen, and Smartwool.