Any large crowd is bound to create garbage, and the Global Citizen Festival is no exception. Global Citizen actually campaigns year-round on environmental sustainability and we’ve worked to mitigate our ecological footprint over the years.
At this year’s festival, held in New York City’s Central Park on Saturday, Sept. 29, we pursued a zero waste event by partnering with PepsiCo to offer recycling stations throughout Central Park, featuring on-site volunteers to help pick up litter and educate festival attendees about how to discard their waste properly. Zero waste doesn’t mean that no plastic was consumed at the festival — instead, it means that teams worked to collect and recycle all the plastic used at the event.
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A key part of that effort was PepsiCo, an official concession parter of the festival, which worked with dedicated Global Citizens to maximize recycling.
PepsiCo has long worked toward a zero waste world by investing in the Closed Loop Fund, a venture fund that invests in local initiatives to improve recycling technology and make recycling more accessible to people. Throughout the US, recycling facilities are often outdated and ill-equipped to deal with varieties of plastic, and inconsistent funding priorities around the country lead to massive disparities in how much plastic gets recycled. In fact, a lot of plastic you think you’re recycling may end up going to landfills.
The brand is also a part of the Recycling Partnership, which aims to double the current rate of recycling in the country through awareness campaigns and improved recycling infrastructure.
At the festival, the brand brought along a group of “Recycling Ambassadors” who teamed up with other volunteers to walk the festival grounds collecting plastic bottles and encouraging people to recycle.
On the stage, countries like Norway pledged to clean up ocean plastic and activists like Mark Ruffalo urged Global Citizens to reduce their plastic consumption.
At the end of the event, the nonprofit Sure We Can cleared the grounds of remaining plastic bottles. Sure We Can employs people experiencing homelessness by empowering them economically, and also uses funds gathered from recycled bottles to provide essential services like meals, shelter, and job training.
Global Citizen also made other efforts to reduce our ecological footprint, including offsetting the festival’s carbon emissions and selling responsible merch.
Global Citizen campaigns on sustainability year-round, so it only makes sense that we employ environmentally friendly practices at our festivals.
At every festival, we avoid single-use straws, offer sustainable food options, and hand out reusable water bottles.
This year, the stakes were higher — we launched a campaign to prevent plastic pollution from entering the world’s oceans in the run-up to the festival. Each year, up to 13 million tons of plastic are absorbed by the oceans and end up harming more than 700 marine animals.
Stopping this pollution calls for commitments from governments, companies, and individuals around the world to improve recycling systems and invest in alternatives to single-use plastic.
At the festival, all three of these groups worked in unison.