Nelsonville Music Festival Aiming For Zero Waste in 2013


The 9th annual Nelsonville Music Festival will take place May 30-June 2, 2013 at Robbins Crossing on the campus of Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio. This year’s event features headliners Wilco and John Prine who join a lineup including Mavis Staples, Sharon Van Etten, Calexico, Jonathan Richman and over 40 more bands playing all weekend long.

The event is produced by Stuart’s Opera House and in the past several years Stuart’s has partnered with Rural Action and the Appalachia Zero Waste Initiative to take steps toward making the event zero waste.  In 2013, the Nelsonville Music Festival has plans to become a true zero waste event by recycling or composting 90% or more of everything thrown away.

“Our partnership with Rural Action & their Appalachian Zero Waste Initiative has helped make the Nelsonville Music Festival one of the leading examples of a large festival that strives to be zero waste,” says Brian Koscho, Marketing Director of the Nelsonville Music Festival, “each year we have worked to make the environmental impact of this event as minimal as we can while continuing to develop new ways to do that.”

At the 2012 Nelsonville Music Festival, Stuart’s Opera House, Rural Action, and the Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative (AOZWI) were able to recycle and compost 72%, or 3,090 lbs, of discarded materials.  This rate is a two-fold increase from 2011’s 35% diversion rate.  In 2013, 90% is the goal.

“The goal of zero waste at the Nelsonville Music Festival is not only to divert the majority of that weekend’s waste from the landfill, but also to show people that this is possible.  If 6,000 people collectively uphold zero waste, you can do it in your own home, too,” said Zero Waste AmeriCorps Volunteer Andrea Reany.

In 2013, Rural Action, AOZWI, and Stuart’s will take its zero waste efforts to the next level.  An innovative sorting line, developed for Rural Action and AOZWI by Ohio University engineering students, will be used by volunteers to capture the greatest amount of recyclables and compost possible.  The line will also increase volunteers’ ability to efficiently remove items that are not recyclable.

“We were able to engage a group of engineering students to help us develop the sorting line for their senior project. Using this type of technology inside festivals is something we haven’t seen around the state before,” said O’Keefe.

Vendors will be huge players in reaching zero waste also, by following new requirements to use all compostable service ware.  ReUse Industries, a local non-profit, will join the efforts by setting up a donation station, where attendees can donate gently used clothing, books and other household items.

“Everyone contributes to this effort which really says something about the character of the festival. None of it would be possible without the dedication of over 150 zero waste volunteers,” said O’Keefe.

Other efforts that will continue this year include a refillable water bottle station, reusable beer cups, recycled art for kids, a zero waste Web page, and over two dozen zero waste stations with recycling and composting bins.  Festival goers are also encouraged to take their zero waste efforts beyond trash by rolling in on two wheels via the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway, or by taking the GoBus from Columbus or Cincinnati which will stop right at the festival.

The 9th annual Nelsonville Music Festival takes place May 30-June 2, 2013 in Nelsonville, Ohio. For tickets and more information on the festival and its Zero Waste programs visit or call (740) 753-1924. For more information about Rural Action and the Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative visit  Starting on March 1, you can sign up to volunteer with the festival and zero waste team: