MANCHESTER, Tennessee — As you can probably imagine, it's not exactly easy cleaning up after 80,000 people, especially when they've just spent four very long days (and nights) drinking bottled everything and eating more arepas than anyone can count. And don't even get us started on the cigarette butts.
Still, for 10 years now, the Clean Vibes Crew has been doing exactly that at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, picking up, sorting, recycling and composting every single bit of trash the tens of thousands in attendance drop throughout the event. And with the 2011 'Roo now officially in the books, the real work is only just beginning. Starting today, the crew will walk arm-in-arm across the 800-acre farmland that the festival has called home since the very beginning. The goal, according to Clean Vibes owner Anna Borofsky, is simple.
"Every inch of land here we walk, arm to arm, and pick up every last cigarette butt or bottle cap," she says, "so it's a farm [again] when we leave."
It's a pretty daunting task, yet Borofsky and her crew — which includes more than 1,000 volunteers, who, in exchange for work, get free admission to the fest — have never once shrunk from the challenge. And though you probably don't notice their efforts during event, you definitely come to appreciate them. For the sheer size of the thing, Bonnaroo is a remarkably green event, the kind that prides itself on leaving as small an impact as possible ... even if that means stationing so-called "Trash Talk" volunteers at each and every trash receptacle, to make sure fans know which bits of trash go in what bin (and, for the record, they actually did this).
It's a pretty sizable undertaking, and after coming to Bonnaroo for several years, we've come to appreciate it more and more. So, this year, we decided to ride shotgun with Borofsky and the Clean Vibes Crew, to give you an idea of just how they take out (and sort) the trash.