Project Description

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Nelsonville Music Festival


The Nelsonville Music Festival has been a zero waste fest since 2014!

We began our journey with Nelsonville Music festival in 2011 with a tarp and an idea. That year we were able to divert 1,630 lbs of recycling from the landfill. Since then we have expanded our efforts to include several initiatives that help make Nelsonville Music Festival the gold-standard of zero waste events.

Since 2011 we have recycled, composted, or reused the equivalent of 54,918 lbs of material at the Nelsonville Music Festival.

Our Work

Reuse: Nelsonville Music festival encourages Reuse. The beer garden sells reusable cups that attendees use throughout the weekend and then keep as souvenirs. Similarly, the Wine Garden reuses small mason jars for drinks. Inside the festival grounds there is a water bottle refill station with a water filter, so attendees can stay hydrated and avoid single-use water bottles.

Compost: Each year about 45% of the waste generated at Nelsonville Music festival is composted. This is achieved by having vendors sign a contract to only use compostable serviceware. From straws to coffee cups everything can go back to the earth.

Another 37% of material generated is recyclable. This is mainly water bottles, wine bottles, ice bags, and aluminum and tin from the food vendors.

A Culture of Awareness: We’ve created a culture of awareness! Since we began our work with The Nelsonville Music Festival we have been inside the festival grounds talking with attendees and making waste reduction part of the culture. After 7 years attendees expect waste reduction. They sort their waste both in the festival grounds and at their campsite, helping our efforts and making Nelsonville Music Festival a clean and sustainable event.

The Campground Effect: Nelsonville Music Festival’s Campground is detached from the festival grounds. Since 2015 we have been working to increase diversion rates in the campground, where we have less control over materials that are brought, and then discarded.

The effort to increase waste diversion in the campground has been monumental. In 2018 we were able to divert an additional 4,000 lbs of material from the landfill by setting up a second sorting operation in the Campground. Since we are a loud presence in the campground we rarely see piles of trash, tents, sleeping bags or coolers left behind. The campers respect our hard work and do their part to clean up after themselves.

Nelsonville Music Festival Logo

Project Details


June 6- June 19, 2019


Stuart’s Opera House







 The Nelsonville Music Festival has worked with Rural Action’s Zero Waste Program (now the Zero Waste Event Productions) over the past 7 years to provide waste diversion and materials management within the festival grounds. After hitting a 96.5% diversion rate in 2014, we still managed to make a 94% diversion rate in 2015 with our team of NMF volunteers.

The team collected and sorted through all the materials generated within the festival grounds in order to separate both recyclable and compostable materials and prevent them from entering the landfill.  

NMF was named one of the 6 most sustainable music festivals (2013, Outdoor Nation)

Ellie Dudding, Stuart's Opera House

Project Gallery

Volunteers sort compostables at Nelsonville Music Festival 2013.
Volunteers carry recycling, compost, and trash bags back to the Zero Waste Event Productions tent in 2013.
Cans are stacked up at Nelsonville Music Festival.

Become a leader in sustainability! Hire Zero Waste Event Productions for your next Festival or Event.