Clean Vibes has become a staple of the festival community. Each year, the organization takes on hundreds of volunteers at music festivals and events nationwide to help minimize festival landfill waste with recycling and composting. Live For Live Music got the chance to speak to Clean Vibes co-owner, Anna Borofsky, who spoke to us about Clean Vibes’ mission and accomplishments, as well as how folks like you can get attend festivals for free with them as a volunteer and what we should all be doing at concerts to make sure that the world stays a little bit greener. Check out the interview below.
Live For Live Music: Can you talk a little bit about what Clean Vibes is, and why it’s so important?
Anna Borofsky: Clean Vibes is a company formed and dedicated to environmentally responsible, on-site waste management for festivals and events. For the past 19 years, we have been working to ensure that event sites are left cleaner than we found them and that as much of the festival waste as possible is diverted from landfills through recycling and composting. To date, we have diverted over 16,000,000 pounds of waste from landfills throughout North America. We also strive to educate and inspire festivalgoers by showing them how easy it is to minimize one’s waste footprint through recycling and composting in hopes that they might take this knowledge and apply it to their daily lives.
L4LM: What accomplishments of Clean Vibes are you most proud of?
AB: The sheer volume of material we have diverted from the landfill is something I am proud of. Developing and improving our systems for efficient event cleanup and waste diversion is also a source of pride. Without question though, the greatest value within Clean Vibes and our greatest source of pride are the amazing staff that we have. We are beyond grateful for the incredibly hard-working, passionate, and dedicated team we have—we would be nothing without them.
All of our staff—our West Coast branch manager, administrative manager, volunteer manager, event managers, volunteer coordinators, supervisors, and crew—amaze us with their passion for the work, dedication to the job, and tolerance for stress and for schwill! We are incredibly proud to have been able to keep so many incredible people employed over the years and look forward to doing so for many more years.
L4LM: Are there any events that stand out for the fans being particularly green or easy to work with?
AB: We have been able to achieve remarkably high diversion rates at Outside Lands in San Francisco as a result of a team effort with a lot of partners in the city committed to waste diversion. In terms of fan-driven success, High Sierra Music Festival has always been a community that helps clean up and really appreciates our waste diversion efforts.
L4LM: What do you hope the future of Clean Vibes holds?
AB: I hope that we can continue to provide an unparalleled level of service to events while continuing to improve our waste diversion rates. I hope we can continue to employ an amazing team of rock stars. I hope that we can continue to expand our services into non-festival realms to provide the same level of waste diversion to other types of outdoor events. I hope we can continue to inspire people to realize that if we can recycle and compost at a festival, you can definitely do it at home.
L4LM: What are things that music fans can do, outside of volunteering for you, to reduce their ecological footprint at music festivals?
AB: Carpool! Buy items in bulk, bring reusable bottles and other foodservice items. No styrofoam coolers! If you smoke, put your butts in your pocket or use a portable ashtray—remember that every butt you throw on the ground, we pick up! If you bring something with you to an event, take it home with you. Don’t leave behind tents and other camping gear when they can still be used. No personal confetti! Again, everything you put on the ground, we have to pick up!
L4LM: For those interested, can you talk about what it means to volunteer for Clean Vibes and how to get involved?
AB: Our volunteer program is an integral part of our operation. We could never accomplish the timely event cleanups and high levels of waste diversion without our amazing volunteers! Volunteering with Clean Vibes is basically a work exchange for festival admission. Folks pay a deposit, they receive admission to the event, they work their shifts with us, and they get their deposit back. They are able to attend the event at almost no cost, while also being a part of the effort to keep the festival clean and diverting as much waste from the landfill as possible.
They get the satisfaction of helping with the festival’s recycling efforts, and so many volunteers find that their Clean Vibes’ experience is one of the most significant and positive aspects of their festival experience. Let’s be clear: it’s hard work. However, the satisfaction, the feeling of accomplishment, and the impact of working as a team can be a powerful experience for a lot of volunteers. If anyone is interested in finding out more details about our specific volunteer opportunities or want to sign up, they should check out our website.