The Green Hands Greening Initiative
The St. Johns County Cultural Events Division, which owns and operates the St. Augustine Amphitheatre and Ponte Vedra Concert Hall, proudly launched the Green Hands Initiative at the start of the 2016 concert season. This cutting-edge initiative is an ongoing program dedicated to establishing and maintaining operating practices which align with our vision to conserve valuable resources and reduce our ecological footprint. The Green Hands Initiative introduced several exciting programs that work in collaboration with the concert industry as well as the community to minimize adverse impacts on our cherished resources locally and globally and to reduce unnecessary waste within our industry, our community and our world.
Commitment: Eliminate Unncessary Waste
The Cultural Events Division can easily create a lot of waste through its 100+ annual large-scale community events. In an attempt to lower our ecological footprint, we committed to minimizing our waste by implementing substantial recycling and composting programs. These programs include:
- Venue-wide Recycling Program: Recycling containers are highly accessible throughout the venues. All recycling and garbage is hand-sorted throughout the season by dedicated staff before being placed into appropriate dumpsters.
- Amphitheatre Compost Program: The St. Augustine Amphitheatre has accessible compost receptacles throughout its catering and kitchen spaces. All food waste generated during shows and daily operations is discarded into and turned in our 3-bing composting station. This program enables the Amphitheatre to lower its carbon footprint by reducing its contribution to dangerous greenhouse gases. The added benefit has been the ability to feed our Staff Garden and cut down on soil nutrient costs.
- The Staff Garden: The Staff Garden was proudly built in partnership with locally-owned nursery, Southern Horticulture. Located backstage and at the end of one of the many cherished trails winding around the Amphitheatre and State Park, the garden is accessible to staff, artists and community members. This 7-bed garden was built by Amphitheatre staff and filled by Southern Horticulture staff. The garden has been, and continues to serve as an educational experience for all involved; provide fresh produce and flowers for staff and artists; and provide a home for many local bees and butterflies.
Commitment: Eliminate Disposable Plastic
With a growing awareness of the harmful effects of plastic on both human and environmental health, people are seeking out ways to do their part to reduce its usage. The Green Hands Initiative made it easy to do just that at both venues, with the implementation of the following programs:
- One Less Plastic Bottle Program: The One Less Plastic Bottle Program has been our most successful program of the 2016 season, eliminating nearly 70,000 disposable plastic bottles from entering landfills and oceans! There are many components of this program including replacing plastic water bottles with boxed water for purchase at concessions (42,520 boxed waters sold in 2016); installing free water bottle refill stations throughout the venues resulting in 26,530 (and counting!) disposable water bottles being eliminated from usage; and the sale of Nalgene water bottles to use at the water refill stations during events (250 Nalgene bottles sold in 2016). Profits from the sale of Nalgene bottles will fund a community project in the 2017 season.
- One Less Plastic Bag Program: At the end of the 2016 concert season, the Cultural Events Division transitioned from the usage of plastic bags to reusable Green Hands canvas tote bags at both venues. These canvas totes will be used for all shopping needs, as well as bus stock on show days. The catering team that provides hospitality on show days will use the totes for all of their shopping as well.
We are very proud of the Elimate Disposable Plastic Commitment as disposable plastics have become a very serious and dangerous issue. To learn more about the plastic crisis and why this program is imperative, please visit:
Commitment: Transition to LED Lighting
In an industry that relies heavily on lighting, our transition to LED bulbs is a very significant aspect of the Green Hands Initiative. There are endless benefits to transitioning to LED lighting. A U.S. Department of Energy study concluded that switching away from incandescents reduces the overall environmental harm of lighting by three to 10 times, and that “Switching entirely to LED lights over the next two decades could save the U.S. $250 billion in energy costs, reduce electricity consumption for lighting by nearly 50 percent and avoid 1,800 million metric tons of carbon emissions.”
Another leading reason for switching to LED bulbs is the elimination of mercury-laden components associated with incandescents and UV radiation associated with fluorescents, which pose major threats to humans and the environment alike. As an added bonus, LED lighting is known to offer health benefits, including mood support, increased concentration and reduction of eye strain.
The Cultural Events Division has been working hard to transition to LED lighting and the following lighting has been successfully converted to LED at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre:
- All aisle lights for the seating bowl and 300 sections
- All house lights under the main canopy
- All lighting for our backstage porch
- All lighting in our catering room
- The dressing rooms and bathrooms
We are currently working on transitioning to LED lighting in the following areas, to be completed for the 2017 concert season:
- The palm tree lights leading into the plaza and the parking lot of the St. Augustine Amphitheatre
- All parking lot lighting
- All stage work lighting
- Launch Ponte Vedra Concert Hall LED transition
Commitment: Host "Envirocational" Events
In addition to tabling at all concert events, the Green Hands Initiative hosts a number events with the intention of educating the community about critical environmental issues and how individuals can integrate conservation into their daily lives. In 2016, the following programs were held:
- The Green Hands Sustainability Fest: This very successful free community event was held at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre and featured 15 local non-profit organizations, four local bands, food trucks and lots of fun children's activities. The Fest brought over 1,000 people out to learn about the multitude of ways the Cultural Events Division and other local organizations are doing their part to build sustainability within our communities.
- The Green Hands Sustainability Soiree: This successful free community event was held at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall, in conjunction with the Sustainability Fest. The Soiree featured 10 local non-profit organizations, a lovely wine and cheese tasting hosted by Whole Foods of Jacksonville and entertainment by a local singer/songwriter. The Soiree welcomed over 150 people from the community who were there to learn about how the Cultural Events Division and other local organizations are implementing sustainbility programs within the community.
- Rising Seas, Rising Community: This free community event, hosted in collaboration with the Environmental Youth Council, brought over 200 people out to the Amphitheatre to discuss the future impact of global warming on our local and global community. The event included a viewing of two short films, food and beverage donated by local organizations, music by local artists and an open discussion on how and why to take action to fight global warming within our community.
To receive updated on the Green Hands Greening Initiative and upcoming events, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.