AUSTIN, Texas – In an effort to maintain cleanliness and preserve the environment, a massive recycling and clean-up operation is currently underway at the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Festival goers have witnessed an impressive level of dedication as volunteers and even non-volunteers meticulously pick up trash throughout the festival grounds.
Dakota Lovell, a festival attendee, expressed their surprise at the active participation of individuals in keeping the festival area clean. Lovell stated, “There was a lot of people carrying trash bags around, picking it all up. Like even people that weren’t in safety vests.”
As the festival progresses, piles of trash continue to accumulate at an alarming rate. Green trash bags are filling up with litter left behind by attendees. Lovell mentioned the prevalent presence of bottles and reusable orange cups, which were being conscientiously collected and deposited into compostable bins.
For the past 18 years, the Austin Parks Foundation has collaborated with ACL to ensure the sustainability of the festival through the reduction, reuse, and recycling of waste. Katie Kennedy, the Austin Parks Foundation’s director of marketing and communications, emphasized the city’s commitment to maintaining clean parks. Kennedy stated, “Austin is a city that loves its parks, and we want to keep our park clean, and we obviously want to enjoy our time at ACL, but we want to make sure it’s sustainable.”
Every year, the Rock and Recycle program organized by the foundation attracts numerous volunteers. Kennedy highlighted the program’s popularity, stating, “We have dozens of volunteers, but I also consider the people who participate in the program volunteers too, so that’s really hundreds.”
Participating in the Rock and Recycle program is incredibly simple. Festival attendees can sign up by merely grabbing a trash bag from the designated table. Kennedy explained the process, saying, “You come up to the table, you grab a bag, and you go around the festival to clean up recyclables.”
In return for their efforts, participants can earn a t-shirt of the day by returning a full bag of recyclables to the table. Kennedy mentioned the collaboration with local artists to create unique and appealing t-shirt designs. Each day offers a different shirt, allowing attendees to collect multiple shirts throughout the festival.
Lovell, who witnessed the remarkable speed at which the festival area was cleaned, expressed their admiration, stating, “I really did see it being picked up as fast it was being put down. We came to the last set last night. When we got there, there was quite a bit of trash, but by the time that we were leaving almost all of it had been picked up.”
According to the Austin Parks Foundation, the Rock and Recycle program has proven to be a win-win situation. Awareness of the program continues to grow, attracting more participants each year who understand its purpose and impact. Lovell, who attended the festival for the first time, expressed their appreciation for the clean park and the effectiveness of the incentives, stating, “This is my first time in Austin, first time at this park and everything, so I was really impressed. I think the park is beautiful, and I think the incentives are working, because I really am seeing it picked up.”
As the festival progresses, the commitment to recycling and cleanliness remains at the forefront, creating a positive impact on both the environment and the festival-goers’ experience.