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Are Green Concerts Green?


The recent "Live Earth" concerts (July 7th) were designed to raise awareness about global warming. But many critics have asked how environmentally friendly were the shows themselves? VOA Urdu service's Ravi Khanna reports on the organizers efforts to make the events as green as possible and how other shows, like the ten-day Montreal Jazz Festival, are benefiting from those steps.

Jazz festivals attract huge crowds -- imagine the number of people and quantity of garbage they involve. Thousands of people at a single concert also means they use and discard thousands of plastic bottles and cups. It also means a huge consumption of electricity and hundreds of gallons of gasoline consumed by the people who throng to the festivals.

Montreal Jazz Festival officials said that recycling bins had been sprinkled all over the festival site and that cleanup teams collected recyclables before sweeping up. They also said some 150,000 cups are recycled every year. We spoke with the festival's Benoit Robitaille about what kind of steps they had taken to make it environmentally friendly.

"We are actually doing that since 1989,” says Robitaille. “We put bins for trash and recyclable bins as well. We have partnerships with a company, they are on the site and they actually take the trash, paper and plastic and send them to be recycled. So it is quite a big organization and if you are willing to, and people are willing to do it, and now people are more concerned so it is not that hard. It is easier now to do recycling because people have now started to think and have improved and you don't have to convince them. People are doing it quite naturally, especially young people who are thinking about the future, so they are doing well.”

However, critics contend the festival is not doing enough. They say being a green event is not just recycling cups and cans. It involves looking at everything consumed, everything bought and everything sold - paper, cups, wood, lights, and down to flowers in the dressing room.

As the jazz festival was happening, Montreal also held a "Live Earth" concert inspired by former Vice President Al Gore's drive to raise money and awareness for the environment. The producer of that show, Pierre Lussier, said they had taken every possible step to keep it green.

"Let us start from the stage,” Lussier shows us. “All this is l-e-d [light emitting diods]. It uses one-fourth of the electricity of conventional lights. If you think most of the electricity is consumed by light, it reduces energy consumption by half. Then all you see is a three-way thing -- recycling, composting and, of course, garbage. All the cups are made of plastic and on top of that it is going to be a dollar for a cup and five dollars for the beer. So it is six dollars for the first beer. But if you bring back your cup, it is going to be 5 dollars. The nice thing I like about it is that at all the events like this, water is free."

Organizers of such festivals are also considering a variety of other options, from solar power and natural gas below the site to a hydrogen generator that could provide 2-hundred times the energy needed for such festivals.

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