What's Green and Has 200,000 Feet?

Lollapalooza 2013! Chicago's annual mega music fest, which took over Grant Park for 3 days earlier this month, may not immediately spark eco-friendly images in your mind, but it should. Lolla's green is more than skin deep. Many public spaces slap up a few recycling bins and claim green status, but Lollapalooza and Kidzapalooza have been walking the talk and getting ever greener by the year.

Water Refilling Stations

Back when the fest began, plastic water bottles were at every stand and if you brought a water backpack or reusable bottle, they were dumped at the gates and the lines to refill them inside from slow drinking fountain troughs were long. Those days are OVER.

All water sold is now in recyclable cardboard boxes and concert goers are encouraged to bring their own refillables.

Cameback filling stations are now ubiquitous and make refills quick and easy with little to no wait. They're free, staffed, and feature many high powered hoses that fill fast!

Carbon Offsets

All in all, my family has been impressed with Lolla's increasing green efforts over the years. This year they roped off more areas of Grant Park to protect the flowers and trees in sensitive garden areas. They also give 10 percent of their gross Lolla revenue back to The Chicago Parks Foundation, to help Chicago's Park District. That's over 4 million since 2005. They make recycling, refilling water, and making green choices for dining and shopping at the fest easy.

Here's what Lollapalooza organizers have to say about their treading lightly aims.

"According to Green Mountain Energy, together, we avoided 110,200 lbs of CO2 emissions this year! In addition to offsetting the electricity Lollapalooza does use, the festival will be using bio-diesel as its primary fuel for generators at the 2013 festival, directly reducing Lollapalooza’s carbon footprint. Festival attendees also had the option to purchase a $3 carbon offset at checkout or donate at the Booth at Green Street South.

All carbon offsets purchased from Lollapalooza 2013 will benefit the Indian Creek Landfill Gas Project in Hopedale, Illinois, just outside Peoria. The landfill has special equipment that captures naturally occurring landfill gas, which contains methane, and destroys it through a combustion process. Methane is a harmful greenhouse gas with over 20 times the potency of carbon dioxide.

The project is third-party certified by Climate Action Reserve, which means the offsets are real, permanent, and beyond what’s required by law or would have occurred otherwise."

ChiIL Mama's daughter, Sagezilla, has a green name, green eyes, and has rocked the recycling program at Lolla now for 3 years with her big brother.

Rock N Recycle

My kids have joined the "Rock N Recycle Program" now for 3 years. They've picked up a big bag of recyclables off the grounds during Lolla and traded it in for a rockin' free t-shirt and a shot at winning a bike and other swag! It's open to all ages and makes the kids feel like eco-super heroes. They love making a difference.

IMG_1491This green tee above, with guitars forming the recycling symbol
was the 2012 Rock N Recycle prize.

Families can Rock N Recycle together. It's a great way to set an excellent example and get your kids involved in helping the earth and giving back to the community.

As you can see, there's also plenty of green space, shade and room to play in the Kidzapalooza area. Kidza is a family friendly mecca for kids 10 and under, who are admitted FREE to Lollapalooza with a paying adult. All Kidza activities are free, including airbrushed tattoos, punk hair styles, the instrument petting zoo, and more.

And some of the nation's best kindie musicians and surprise guests play the stage. Kidzapalooza ends around 5 p.m. daily, so families can still venture out and catch all the evening headliners. I know many parents who have seen aerial photos of the densely packed melee of Lolla headliner crowds and thought they'd never be able to navigate it with children in tow. But a music fest is a living, breathing organism: denser at the core, with plenty of space at the fringes.

If you don't have a compelling need to be a front and center rail rider right at the stage, then Lolla is workable with even the tiniest of tots. We've done it every year since our kids were 1 & 3! They've grown up Kidza over the past 9 years the fest has called Chicago home. And it's been a wonderful experience for our family.

At first we brought them in back pack carriers, then a double jogger, now we all walk and we're down to small day packs. With plenty of water, sunscreen and lots of glow sticks so they'd be seen and not hurt after dark, Lolla has been fun and totally doable with the whole family. Now that they're 10 & 12, they still love it and eagerly anticipate our annual time in Lolla Land.

The Blisters, now 17 and college bound, first formed their band as 7 year olds.

2013 Kidzapalooza Stage Highlights

-A set by Chicago's own First Lady of Children's Music, Ella Jenkins, who just celebrated her 89th birthday!

-Two days of sets by The Blisters (including drummer, Spencer Tweedy, oldest son of Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy and Lounge Ax Mom) He was 7 years old when he first formed the band and has played Kidzapalooza several times before.

-Kindie favs like Ralph's World, The Not It's, Chicago's own Q Brothers, and many more.

-Peter DiStefano and Tor

-Surprise guests including Shaun White, well known for snowboarding and skateboarding, and his band Bad Things, joined on stage by fest founder Perry Farrell!

-Bonnie Kenaz-Mara is a writer-potter-painter-photographer-videographer-actor-animal wrangler-kid taxi driver-all around creatrix-and mama to two amazing kids. You can find her writing daily at http://www.chiilmama.com/ and http://chiilliveshows.com/.

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