How Gasparilla Music Festival in Tampa went eco-friendly

Crowd shot at a waterfront music festival

It’s 2020, and the city of Tampa is making serious strides to be more eco-friendly. Event organizers across the Tampa Bay region continue to search for ways to move toward zero waste, or at the very least reduce their carbon footprint. Gasparilla Music Festival, a weekend-long celebration at Curtis Hixon Park, is no different.

You may remember Mayor Jane Castor’s #BeadFreeBay initiative, which helped prevent tons of pounds of beads from being tossed/discarded in the Hillsborough River. Food and entertainment hubs like Sparkman Wharf, and Tampa International Airport have pledged to Skip the Straw. Similar to that initiative, GMF, an event that was started by eco-conscious locals, is ready to address issues of waste.

Thousands attend every year. Dozens of the best food and drink vendors are on hand to feed, hydrate, and entertain concert goers. In the midst of the GMF excitement, organizers, bands and vendors are discovering ways to be more sustainable.

How does Gasparilla Music Fest go eco-friendly?

For starters, GMF has developed a partnership with Boxed Water.  The brand’s containers are made of 74% paper, a renewable, recyclable resource that is better for the earth than plastic or aluminum. Boxed Water’s paper even comes from responsibly managed forests, which means trees are being replanted as they’re harvested.

In addition to boxed water, the music festival is also introducing a bring-your-own container water refill station.

It’s not just about reducing waste and pollution at Curtis Hixon Park. GMF and its sustainability board want to reduce the event’s footprint across the entire city. Now in its 9th year, GMF was one of the first events in the region to offer bike valet. Organizers estimate they’ll see 500-600 bikes throughout the weekend.

GMF partners with HART to provide free rides

For 2020, GMF has partnered with HART to give all festival goers with FREE rides all weekend. All you have to do is present your ticket to the driver.

Attendees may notice new centralized waste and recycling stations. GMF staff will be available to help educate and assist those at the festival who aren’t sure how/where to dispose of certain items.

Roughly 95% of all food containers are compostable. GMF is also one of the first large events in the region to offer site-wide compositing/recycling. Event organizers bring all of the food compost to community gardens across the Tampa Bay area.

New carbon offset initiatives

GMF has also partnered with We Are Neutral, an environmental nonprofit that helps businesses and individuals understand, reduce, and offset their carbon footprints.

Carbon offsets from We Are Neutral help support community-improving projects.  Their carbon offset and reduction initiatives include native tree plantings, energy upgrades for low-income families, methane abatement programs at local landfills, and more.

In 2019, these new sustainability measures helped GMF divert at least 2 tons of waste from the landfill.

In case you want to know why it matters to try and be more eco-friendly, here are 5 local parks in Tampa worth celebrating.

Written by Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan is the Editor of thatssotampa.com. Follow him on Twitter @harlanyoungII and Instagram @harlanyoung. Send tips and potential stories to info@thatssotampa.com.