Sustainability, organic, local foods, carbon offsets, collection, recycle, redeem, are all contemporary buzzwords associated with a rising movement of environmental responsibility and sustainability by encouraging an integration of these values into everyday life and also as a solution for social problems as well as the health benefits of a preservative, additive free, sustainable diet.
In the Washington, D.C. area there is a home for this type of vision, it is SweetGreen. SweetGreen started in 2007 by three college students. In only 7 years, it has blossomed into 10 stores across D.C., 3 stores in Maryland and 1 in Massachusetts.
SweetGreen’s founders came together with five hundred people in 2010 to fellowship with like-minded people in the community the original store serves. That gathering, combined with live music and in only 4 years, grew into the SweetLife Festival. The festival hosts over twenty-thousand people and over 20 musical acts on its solar powered stage including, Lana Del Ray, Foster the People, Fitz and the Tantrum and platinum rap artist Two Chainz along with many other groups an individual artists.
This party with a purpose is held in the Merriweather Post Pavilion, located in Columbia, Maryland, which is thirty minutes from the D.C. metro area. It is a celebration and a continuation of the values on which SweetGreen was founded. This means the festival is carbon neutral, achieved by the purchase of green tags and state-of –the-art solar panels.
Parking at the Pavilion is always free but for more sustainable travel they are providing a “Rock and Bus” billed as luxurious and affordable and also the new ride sharing system Uber. The waste from the festival is used in making compost through a company called Fatworm Composting. Each vendor is charged with providing compostable containers, napkins and utensils. Even event goers can get into the act with a system that offers free stuff in exchange for their trash.
The food section of the party is provided through a large farmers market where festival patrons can purchase sustainable food and also meet and learn from the farmers with the vision to pursue these sustainable, organic methods. The festival even features sustainable beer companies including Flying Dog, who will be featuring beer brewed specifically for the event.
The purpose for the party and all proceeds go to SweetGreen in Schools, which educates the surrounding community and schoolchildren about the importance of sustainable eating. The program is in its third year and is collaborating with the DC Farm to School Network. The festivals partners are Kenny Produce Company, Honest Tea, Uber, Flying Dog, Acme Paper Supply Company, Tito’s Handmade Vodka of Texas, Kind Healthy Snacks and The Nature Conservancy.