Music to our Ears: Sustainability at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

With festival season upon us, music lovers of all ages are gearing up for the experience of a lifetime. Regardless of your music preference, festivals offer a variety of music, art, and culinary experiences that create lasting memories. While you can find similar music lineups at festivals across the country, the Coachella Valley Music and Art Festival in Indio, CA provides an experience like no other. The annual festival incorporates music, art, food, and drink in an unprecedented fashion, selecting up and coming musicians, vendors, and artistic talent.

Fig. 1- Coachella 2014- Source:

While the controversy surrounding Coachella owner Philip Anschutz’s alleged economic donations to anti-LGBTQ groups and subsequent denial of these actions is still fresh in the minds of many, the festival’s continued efforts in promoting environmental awareness and responsibility showcase the festival as an innovator in this field, providing an experience that goes deeper than face value by driving sustainability as a major tenet of the festival.

Fig. 2 – The Sahara Tent at Coachella 2016- Source: Jake Anderson

Global Inheritance

Sustainability and promotion of healthy environment have always been a focal point of Goldenvoice, the creators of Coachella, but their partnership with Global Inheritance, a Los Angeles based nonprofit working to educate individuals and inspire sustainability transforms the festival’s message. This nonprofit has had a major impact on the festival, bringing in a variety of eco-centric programs that directly align with the festival itself.


Fig. 3 – Carpoolers get creative decorating their cars Source:





One of the most popular Global Inheritance programs festival goers participate in is Carpoolchella. This program commemorates those who carpool together to the festival. Those who decorate their shared rides earn special prizes and can even win awards such as lifetime tickets.

By congratulating those who take extra steps to ride together and reduce their individual carbon footprints and fossil fuel consumption, the festival encourages environmental awareness, which is advertised by these traveling signs. You can learn more about their Carpoolchella program here

Fig. 4- Turning a trash can into a turkey- Source:


Coachella’s sustainability programs address a variety of environmental activism, taking on recycling with their TRASHed art program. This program prompts artists to transform trash bins into works of art, driving a friendly competition for the opportunity to display them around the festival. This creates a community around recycling in a fun and innovative manner as well as symbolizes the importance of recycling.

Global Inheritance goes as far to allow people to purchase items using recyclables collected throughout the festival grounds. In their “10 for 1” program, festival goers to pick up water bottles and exchange them in a “recycling store” for goodies, turning trash into merchandise and prizes. By teaming up with Coachella and using these programs to embrace the festival’s free-spiritedness, the growing festival community can learn important messages about our environment and has the chance to take action to influence our global future. You can learn more about Global Inheritance’s partnership with Coachella here.

Food and Drink

While Global Inheritance’s partnership with Coachella has taken the festival in new directions, the food and drink vendors that set up shop at Coachella reflect a continued emphasis on sustainability. The vast majority of the vendors at the festival incorporate innovative menus and feature trendy products, and while they often blend a variety of cultures, they simutaneously reflect continued environmentalism.

Fig. 5- Ramen Hood- Source:

One of the major components found across many vendors is an emphasis on implementing vegan products into their menus. This is exemplified by Ramen Hood, an innovative LA-based ramen restaurant that crafts vegan noodle dishes and alternatives to traditional meat based ramen. This continued emphasis on vegan menus is continued with the sweet treats of Rocco’s Sweet Shop, an Arizona bakery that pumps out delicious vegan treats made from organic and non-GMO ingredients. Coachella’s focus on including restaurants and vendors that incorporate non-GMO ingredients reinforce the direction it has taken in regards to sustainability.

While vegan, non-GMO, and organic products have become vendor staples, Coachella’s message of sustainability and its work towards driving recycling with Global Inheritance’s “10 for 1” program is furthered by Sunny Blue’s pop up restaurant at Coachella, a LA omusubi restaurant that rewards customers for bringing in their own recycled take out containers and cutlery by cutting prices. While these are only a few of the vendors at the festival, environmental awareness is clearly a major driving influence in the festival’s vendor choices. You can find a list of all the vendors at Coachella here.

Fig. 7 (Right)- Coachella 2016- Source: Jake Anderson

Taking the Festival Home

If you can’t make it out to the desert this weekend, Santa Barbara natives are lucky to have the chance to indulge at local spots. Santa Barbara staples driven by sustainable practices and environmental responsibility, Backyard Bowls and McConnell’s Ice Cream, will be discovered by many this weekend at the festival. How lucky are we to have the chance to embrace their environmental consciousness by grabbing an acai bowl or ice cream cone? Additionally, the sustainable ideas that Coachella promotes in its “10 for 1” and TRASHed programs are ever important to promoting a sustainable community, and whether you embrace plastic reduction this weekend in Indio or every day, you promote the message of responsibility represented in LoaTree’s Better World Series project, which you can learn more about here.

If you head out to Coachella this weekend, expect to not only have the time of your life but to learn a thing or two. You’ll come home with more than just a new appreciation for music but a respect for global environmental sustainability.


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