Since its inaugural year in 2016, the Okeechobee Music Festival (OMF) in Florida has been committed to making sure discarded items don’t go to waste. It’s only one part of its sustainability strategy, but gathering left-behind supplies impacts Okeechobee County’s people significantly. The festival has generated sizable donations to help with waste divergence and supply collection by working alongside local nonprofits.
In 2020, Okeechobee donated $50,880 to different nonprofits, supporting businesses like the Treasure Coast Food Bank. On top of the money, 5,621 pounds of food was given to the food bank, enough to feed more than 37,000 people.
This food drive is one of OMF’s biggest charitable contributions, and festival workers actively encourage patrons to donate any amount of food or money to the organization.
“If you can only do a little, do a little. If you can do more, do more,” said Annabelle Robertson, chief impact officer of Treasure Coast Food Bank, when discussing how attendees can help out with the food drive. The food drive isn’t OMF’s only sustainability effort.
Donating rescued camping supplies is another outreach effort carried out by the event to help keep waste to a minimum. At the 2020 festival, more than 3,000 pounds of reusable goods were collected and sent to Thank You For Your Service. The nonprofit assists homeless veterans with items like blankets, pillows, tents, and tarps.
When it comes to waste management, workers collected 56,500 pounds of co-mingled recycling and 14,000 pounds of scrap metal. Much of this waste collection is carried out by Clean Vibes, the nonprofit organization that helps many popular music festivals. It estimates that the organization diverted around 85,000 pounds of recycled and reusable items from the 2022 event.
Participation Row is the most impactful part of OMF’s outreach campaigns. The booth area’s goal is to get people registered to vote and educate those who may not understand why voting is important. Alongside the activism company HeadCount, the festival has made around 15,500 positive social actions. Attendees can win prizes like free chocolate bars when they register, and nearly 5,000 new voters have signed up in 2022.
Okeechobee has made it its mission to get involved in these outreach programs, so fans will have an awesome music festival experience and learn facts about voting and sustainability. Since the first year, the event has ramped up these efforts, and the numbers reflect the positive impact OMF is having on young people and county residents.
In the five years since taking up this sustainability mission, the festival has donated over $420,000 to local nonprofits. This year alone, the event gathered 66,120 pounds of recycled goods, 359,520 pounds of landfill waste, 2,300 pounds of reusable waste, and 12,460 pounds of scrap metal.
The positive social outreach programs have made Okeechobee a haven for people from all walks of life, despite having two years of lower attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
These sustainability and outreach efforts are sure to continue, perhaps growing into more sophisticated campaigns. Okeechobee is more than just a beach-side music festival; it’s a place where one can immerse themselves in sustainability and positivity.