How The Waste Left Behind By Coachella & Stagecoach Attendees Is Turned Into Something Good

Allen J. Schaben / Getty Images

Hundreds of thousands of music fans flock to Indio, California during the month of April for the annual Coachella and Stagecoach Festivals

The Empire Polo Fields in Indio, California hosts two major music festivals over three consecutive weekends every spring: Coachella and Stagecoach. Together, the two events draw more than 300,000 attendees, with many traveling from different states to attend.

In addition to the massive festival venue, the 642-acre property includes RV and tent camping areas for festival attendees to stay on-site. At the end of each weekend, large amounts of waste are left behind by concertgoers who either can’t or don’t want to take the items home with them. The discarded items often include clothing, camping gear, and dry foods.

After the series of events, it was estimated that an astounding 24 tons of clutter would be collected from the grounds.

via Galilee Center

A local organization repurposes the waste to benefit those in need

The Galilee Center, a California-based non-profit, hauls the debris from the Empire Polo Fields by the truckload with the help of volunteers and staff members. According to Lupe Torres-Hilario, director of operations at the Galilee Center, it is not uncommon for festival attendees to fly in for the weekend and purchase the gear needed to camp, with no intention of keeping it after the festivities end.

In addition, the organization says it often gets calls from event vendors who want to donate tables, chairs, and throw rugs. On the first weekend alone, the center reported collecting 100 air mattresses, 40-50 canopies, and over 500 pillows.

Most of the collected goods are put up for sale in the Galilee Center’s thrift store. The proceeds are used to fund programs that support families in need with rent and utility bill assistance and purchasing infant and elderly care items.

Lightly used cots and sleeping bags that are recovered from the campgrounds are often given to the homeless for free. Torres-Hilario reflected:

“Some of it is trash and we throw it away, but for the most part, a lot of the stuff is in good condition that I could easily grab from Coachella and hand it over to a family in need.”

Surplus food from the festivals helps feed the impoverished

Similar to the repurposed physical goods, the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission has found a way to use leftover food to meet local needs. Each day, they bring a food truck to the festival grounds to pick up unused food from the food vendors to be served as meals at the mission.

Development Director Scott Wolf said:

“We serve anywhere between 700 and 1,000 meals a day here at the Rescue Mission, so the foods that are donated by Goldenvoice [the organization that produces both Coachella and Stagecoach] goes a long way to assisting us with serving those meals.” 

Watch the video below to see the massive scope of the festival grounds!