Eco-Awesomeness at the Vibes by Jessica Reis
The 14th Annual Gathering of the Vibes Festival took place on July 23-26, 2009, featuring Bob Weir & Ratdog, Crosby Stills and Nash, moe. and The Levon Helm Band as its headliners. In true tradition of "The Vibes," the music was top notch and full of energy, but the focus remains on the people -- the "Vibe Tribe," who come from near and far, representing themselves proudly (in the mud), providing for a friendly, family-centered atmosphere, sharing good times, goodwill and creating lasting memories with old and new friends. There aren't many events out there that provide such a feeling of community, and a key theme of this community is taking care of your fellow man as well as your planet.
Gathering of the Vibes featured the Green Vibes Sustainability Village again this year. Various ecologically and socially responsible non-profit organizations and green businesses gather to educate attendees and lend their efforts to keeping the scene green and beautiful. In this village, you could learn about alternative fuels -- how hydrogen can be used in place of natural resources as a clean, emission-less fuel; the power and practicality of solar energy (as well as charge your electronic device) from the solarbus; how biodiesel can be used in lieu of gasoline for your auto and much more. Local Connecticut organizations were in attendance to educate the people about keeping our bodies of water (i.e. the bordering Long Island Sound) clean; providing various ideas to reduce waste, and bringing awareness of key issues through music. The focal point of the sustainability village is the Green Vibes Stage. The stage, partially run on solar energy, featured excellent musical performances, panel discussions and lectures. At the end of the weekend, an attendee was literally provided over a dozen new ideas for cutting their carbon footprint just by taking a walk along the booths.
Clean Vibes Event Waste & Recycling Services were present once again working into the wee hours of the morning to provide their amazing assistance in keeping the scene clean. Three separate cans were available at waste reclamation centers throughout the festival grounds, encouraging people to dispose their waste in either the trash, recycling or compost receptacle. "Trash talkers" were on hand to advise people how to properly dispose of their waste and encourage everyone to continue recycling and composting throughout the year in their own homes.
Clean Vibes also provided attendees an incredible opportunity to trade recyclable items for merchandise! The Clean Vibes Trading Post took cans and bottles in exchange for rewards. Items for trade redemption included Vibes merchandise, organic products, fun goodies and the ultimate prize -- an autographed Summer Tour 2009 poster signed by Crosby Stills and Nash.
In collaboration with Clean Vibes, the food vendors at Gathering of the Vibes used corn-based compostable plates, cups and utensils. Using these products provided an enormous opportunity to reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfills and greatly reduced the negative affects on the environment which large events such as this inevitably create. And if you had leftover food or non-perishable items at the end of the festival that you didn't want to bring home, the Gathering of the Vibes Food Drive was happy to take it off your hands (resulting in the collection of over 7,000 pounds of items for local shelters). Overall, the collaborative efforts of Clean Vibes, the festival staff and attendees resulted in the collection of thousands of pounds of recyclable and compostable materials which will NOT be taking up space at a landfill!
It is well-known that this planet is facing enormous environmental problems. Our limited resources are rapidly depleted by population growth, water, air and soil pollution. These issues threaten to render our planet unable to support life unless we can meet the growing need for food and energy within a sustainable environment. Therefore, it is vital to make some changes in the way we live our lives. When we use less energy and fewer resources, we create less waste to be dumped in a landfill and we prolong the planet's ability to keep us around, which we can all appreciate. Once again, the Gathering of the Vibes has provided a unique opportunity for patrons to learn, observe and collaborate for a cause on a local level which affects us on a global scale. Perhaps the best lesson learned (besides seeing so clearly how every little bit helps when you pass a mountain of bags filled with cans and bottles) is the fact that it is so easy to take steps toward greener living and really requires little-to-no additional effort. It is just as easy to conserve as it is not to conserve. So why not do your part to help out mother nature all year long.
"I always scrape off any remaining food on my plate into the garbage when I'm done eating. But I just learned how to compost, so I'm going to start scraping off my plate into a container for composting now instead." - Shelley, 21, Springfield, MA
"It's so cool you can trade cans for merchandise. I'm just going to bring all the cans from my campsite there before I leave." - Joe, 19, Califon, NJ
"What lies between a good recycler and a bad recycler? Oregon! I know, that was dumb." - Mike, 26, Trumbull, CT
"Those hydrogen stove brownies were dope! I thought they were going to be a "special" brownie but these are eco-brownies, which is cool too" - David, 19, Ft. Lee, NJ
...and now the photos taken by Jessica Reis