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Tuning in to Ecophoria: Talking with Euphoria Fest, Initiatives to Shift the Festival & Sustainability Paradigm [Interview]

We at Compose Yourself have always been advocates for greener festivals, spreading educational tools and linking the eco-bridge between fests and sustainability to create a better environment for everyone involved in throwing these amazing gatherings (most especially the Earth we get to throw them on!). Euphoria Festival, happening April 6th-9th at Carson Creek Ranch right outside of downtown Austin, Texas, takes sustainability very seriously. This year marks number two for the fest’s ‘Ecophoria’ mission. Ecophoria’s goals are to initiate more ways to preserve the beautiful home at Carson Creek Ranch, reduce the festival’s impact and learn as a community to live more sustainable lives. We had the opportunity to delve deeper into these subjects with Euphoria’s Sustainability Director, Clay Young, below. Clay also is the CCO of Wysidio, a company who offers sustainability services to Music festivals and is helping Euphoria with their amazing green efforts this year.   
CYM: With so many festivals out there these days, it would seem that being as sustainable and eco-conscious as possible would be number one in most profit-seeking festival’s budgeted minds. This usually is not the case, however, and Euphoria’s huge stance on green initiatives and their evolving Ecophoria mission is a huge pull in our love and respect of this incredible Austin, Texas, festival. For those who might have never thought about the impact, waste, trash and importance of sustainability and environmental education at these type of events, can you tell us why is it so important for festivals to include sustainability as part of their model?
[Clay Young:] It is interesting that you are connecting profit and being environmentally conscious. There is an obvious business case for being more sustainable. There are real and immediate cost savings a festival can benefit from by being sustainable. For example, maybe an event doesn’t have to print as much promotional material to sell tickets. This is one area we certainly addressed this year and actually reduced our printed promo by almost 30% which we are very proud of. There is also a social component tied to the business case. Everyone, and younger people specifically, is becoming more educated and aware of the environmental and social impacts companies can have. This is of course not why we are being so diligent in this area. We believe being more sustainable is a moral obligation but we also believe it is the future of successful business in general. On top of that, music festivals are expressions are some of the best aspects of culture. We don’t want to tarnish that experience by not being good stewards to each other and our planet.
CYM: We are in total agreeance that each individual is morally obligated to give back to this Earth we come from and live more sustainable and eco-friendly lives, especially when we get to be a part of these amazing festivals surrounded by the things we love most in life. We’ve always been fans of y’all’s partnership with Austin’s Keep Austin Beautiful, an organization that provides resources and education to engage citizens in building more beautiful communities.  Just recently a new partnership with Austin Permaculture Guild was established. Can you tell us more about APG and their role in Euphoria Fest this year.

[Clay Young:] We are very excited about both of these partnerships too! Each year Euphoria takes place at Carson Creek Ranch. Carson Creek runs through the ranch (the name may have given that away) and the Colorado River is on the border. We really felt that if we are occupying the land and waterways here it was our duty to make sure it was clean and beautiful. We partnered with Keep Austin Beautiful to do just that. We have three river cleanups a year with KAB and one of which is Saturday during the festival. We really want to make sure our home is beautiful and pristine. The partnership with Austin Permaculture Guild is a new one that we are really excited about. A pillar of the Ecophoria program is community engagement. Our goal here was to find organizations that are promoting sustainability and environmentalism throughout the Austin community and support them how we can. This year we decided to sponsor the HOPE Eco Fair which is a product of the combined efforts of APG and HOPE Farmer’s Market. This fair is a collection of a bunch of groups showcasing products, NPO’s, and community organizations trying to do a little better for Austin and beyond. It made perfect sense for us to help them with their mission. APG will also be helping us on site this year with educational efforts to help campers and attendees be a little more sustainable at Euphoria. They will be hosting two workshops and be roaming the campgrounds being positive examples of environmental stewards. The working relationship is fantastic and we are already talking about how to build our relationship for next year.

Picture by Sydney Paschall
CYM: All of that sounds like amazing and proactive partnerships and actions we are all about! We saw that y’all have a Green Team now! What is the Green Team and how can someone  who might be interested become involved?
[Clay Young:] The Green Team is a force of mother nature! This is indeed a new program for us and one we plan on expanding rapidly over the years. In short, these guys are a volunteer group that help us keep conserve resources. This includes reducing landfill, increasing recycling efforts, and conserving water. They are more than just a waste management team. The are a visual representation of our green efforts, they are cheerleaders for the environment, through positive examples and education. You can see these guys doing everything from hauling off plastic to manning water stations. People can still apply here and check “green team” when prompted.
CYM: RAD! Sounds like something a lot of our readership would be interested in. If I am going to Euphoria with my crew, what are some things we can do to help our carbon footprint while we are fest-ing all weekend?
[Clay Young:] I love this question! You really can start making an impact BEFORE you ever leave the house. The biggest source of carbon for events has to do with people traveling to get there. CARPOOL! Find a group of friends and a vehicle that can fit your stuff and come together. It’s hard to imagine as an individual, but if we reduced the cars driving to Euphoria by 1/2- that’s a lot of emissions not going into the air. Another huge thing you can do is leave the bottled water at home. Get a refillable bottle and keep it forever. We have great water purification refill stations on site and the water is fantastic. BYOB! Bring your own bottle and you will be doing us a huge favor. When you get to the grounds try to reduce single use items like utensils and cups. Help us keep the place clean. Don’t be trashy and litter. Let’s all spread that message that we want to keep our home beautiful. It’s better to dance on ;)
 Lauren Coakley
Lauren Coakley Copyright © Copyright: Lauren Coakley Photography
CYM: You are right about that! All of those ideas are super beneficial and coming from personal experience, really easy to get accustomed to. I also try to unwrap or take out any camping supplies or packaging things come in and recycle at home. Less waste on the site for yourself to dispose of! Ecophoria’s efforts are not just during the festival season either. Tell us more about how Euphoria vows to be greener and stay sustainable throughout the entire year.
[Clay Young:] As I mentioned earlier, we orchestrate two additional river clean-ups with Keep Austin Beautiful. One challenge for me is really educating people on what “sustainability” is. It really is helpful to know that being sustainable encompasses economic, environmental, social, and cultural elements. A lot of what we will be doing after the event is gathering data, assessing programs and planning on how to improve in these areas for the next year. We will diligently be looking to build more partnerships with local and regional groups to help expand our mission.
CYM: Thanks so much for your time, dedication and all the amazing information, Clay! We look forward to doing our part in taking part in the amazing green initiatives of Ecophoria at Euphoria + beyond at future festivals, events and in our daily lives.
Feel free to reach out if you have any additional information on anything discussed in this interview or want to be more involved in reducing your carbon footprint, living a more sustainable life or want to provide your services for any of these worthy causes. See you at Euphoria in ONE WEEK! Tickets are still available here.
Last 48 hrs #Ecophoria Update:
– banned stage confetti
– banned single use straws
– now offering community kitchens in campgrounds
– camp gear donation stations for the homeless established
– composting program organized
– Partnership with Zed’s Dead family for stage cleanups


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