Valen Lambert

Working for Fun

Photo by Jess Bernstein

Indentured servitude is a lot more exciting than it sounds. Nearly every festival provides the opportunity to work on different volunteer teams in exchange for a ticket, food, and showers. This provides a perfect platform to travel, make friends, create new experiences,and to get a behind-the-scenes understanding of the work that goes into creating a festival.

            Volunteers are the reason you get to have so much fun at festivals. Without green team,traffic control, box office, greeters, hospitality, build, and tear down crews, events wouldn’t be as organized as you see them today. Being on a volunteer team is like being in a family of like-minded people with the same passions and interests. Some are traveling nomads who use the work-exchange as an opportunity to travel, eat, and have a place to stay, others are just looking for a free ticket. No matter the reason, volunteering brings diverse populations of people together under the common interest of community, love,and not spending money on expensive festival tickets.

            One volunteer team in particular has a huge role in festival management. The dirty but passionate work of the Green Team is one of the main reasons festivals can comeback to the same location next year for more good times. In a world where waste is often ignored and overlooked, green-teamers, also known as trash pirates, are there to make sure festivals leave absolutely no trace on the land.

When I first started volunteering on the Green Team, I had no idea about the family I was about to be apart of. All the members have a close bond over waste-reduction and sustainability.These people are serious about their trash. We get down and dirty, plundering through people’s waste, finding ground scores and other trashy treasures. We sort through trash for recyclables and compost to make sure the festival leaves the smallest trace possible. We use our passion of sustainability to educate and excite festival goers on what they can do to reduce their waste and eco-footprint. It can be a tough job when you’re dealing with the waste of 20,000+ attendees, and even more frustrating when they didn’t follow the guidelines of the pack-it-in pack-it-out event they’ve just attended, so there are mountains of trash bags next to the campground porta-potties stacked in front of signs that say “Take Camp Trash Home”.

Our passion for the environment fuels us through the frustrating, labor-intensive, and grimy work that we do. Somebody has to do it! Once you catch the green team bug, there is no going back. Your work starts branching outside of the festival. You will never resist the urge to pick up every piece of trash you see ever again. You’ll start bringing your own utensils, food containers, and cups out to eat to reduce your waste. You’ll always have reusable bags for grocery shopping. You’ll start yelling at all your friends for not doing all this either. We are trying hard to spread the bug because the world needs more trash pirates. The world is ready for change and we are the catalyst.

Next time you plan on attending a festival, look into volunteering. The abundance of friends you’ll make, money you’ll save, and unique experiences you’ll have is worth the work. If you’re not interested in missing any sets during the weekend, pre and post event shifts are available as well. Either way, you are helping make beautiful things happen.

Valen Lambert @chagurl

BIO- Trash pirate and boogie bunny; I’ll see you on the d-floor my friends