We look forward to creating a more sustainable, immersive festival experience in Denver for Vortex 2023!


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Vortex is dedicated to sparking joy and transformation as well as making a positive impact through hiring locally, supporting sustainability initiatives, and uplifting historically marginalized groups. From art installations made from upcycled items to our commitment to supporting our local communities, sustainability has always been a key pillar of who we are at Meow Wolf. Our festivals and events should be no different, so we are proud to introduce our first event sustainability program at Vortex Festival this year!

Vortex worked with an outside consultant, Ascendance Sustainable Events, to identify 33 ways Meow Wolf can lessen our environmental footprint at Vortex. This program helps reduce waste, protect our climate and engage our community. It builds a foundation for sustainability and positive impact, from participant engagement all the way to behind the scenes circularity.

We look forward to creating a more sustainable, immersive festival experience in Denver, and we will implement the below sustainability initiatives at our festival this year:


1. Plastic-Free Bar Service
All bar beverages will be served in reusable cups provided by R.cup or aluminum cans to limit disposables and completely eliminate single-use plastics from our bar service!

2. Reusable Cup Program
Reusables are far more environmentally-friendly than any type of disposable, reducing both waste and emissions! Get your favorite cocktail or non-alcoholic beverage in one of our reusable R.cups, then return it  to designated bins throughout the event.

3. Canned Water Service
Aluminum cans are far more efficiently recycled and can be less environmentally impactful than single-use plastics. Canned water will be sold at bars and by food vendors. Make sure to place your cans in a designated recycling bin when you are done!

4. Paper Disposables Upon-Request Only
To reduce waste, vendors will only be giving out items such as paper napkins, straws, cutlery and bags  upon-request. If you don’t need it, skip the straw and other disposables!

5. Plastic-Free Artist Hospitality
Artist green rooms will provide canned beverages and reusable cups only, to eliminate single-use plastics in our DJ booths and artist spaces.

6. BYO Bottles + Hydration Packs
Please bring your own water bottle or hydration pack to reduce waste and stay hydrated! Only empty, hard plastic water bottles and single-pocket hydration packs are allowed – no aluminum, metal, steel, single-use plastic or glass bottles, please! Check out our Things to Know page for more information on approved items.

7. Reusable Water Bottle Sales
Reusable water bottles will also be available for purchase at Merch. You can purchase one to reduce waste during the event and rep Meow Wolf’s sustainability program both on and off festival grounds!

8. Water Refill Stations for Attendees
Reusing and refilling is the most sustainable hydration option, reducing thousands of single-use items from entering the waste stream or polluting the environment. Look for signs that will point you to the nearest free water refill station!

9. Water Refill Stations for Staff and Artists
Staff, artists and all onsite teams are also  being encouraged to bring their own cups or bottles for use at refill stations to stay hydrated while onsite!

10. Food Rescue
Food waste is both an environmental and social justice issue. Food rescue is the solution! Food vendors will have the opportunity to donate unsold food to support local food-insecure communities through Denver Food Rescue and Denver Community Fridges, redistributing food to those who need it instead of to the waste stream!

11. Composting
Composting diverts organic matter from the landfill, mitigates emissions from food waste and returns nutrients to local soil. Place any food scraps and all food service wares in clearly-labeled compost bins throughout the event grounds, where they will be collected and composted at a local facility.

12. Plastic-Free Food Service
Single-use plastics are harmful to our environment and health at every stage of their long life cycle and put stress on local waste management systems. All food available to purchase throughout event grounds will be served in  compostable materials to achieve plastic-free food service! Please look for signage on waste stations and place your foodservice wares in the correct bin.

13. Shifting Towards Plastic-Free Staff Catering
Our staff’s meals will also be served  plastic-free – in boxes or other compostable materials to reduce waste produced by staff.

14. Supply Reuse Strategy
Reusing and repurposing supplies and materials keeps these items out of landfills and limits unnecessary resource consumption. Meow Wolf will continue to  reuse several materials, including furniture, art, decor, and staging, from year to year!

15. Exploring Supply Rescue Opportunities
Waste audits will be conducted to explore opportunities for rescuing supplies and materials that may be reused or repurposed by local community partners!

16. Recycling
After reducing and reutilizing potential waste sources as much as possible, recycling is the next best step for keeping disposables out of the landfill. We will be collecting aluminum cans, cardboard and other recyclables onsite, as well as providing training and signage for staff and attendees. Please place all recyclables in our clearly-labeled, restrictive-lid bins! Our waste management partner, Diversion Designers, will be hand-sorting all materials behind-the-scenes to ensure acceptance at the recycling facility.


17. Energy Assessment to Shift Towards Efficient Energy Use Strategy
Sustainable energy experts have identified a tendency to vastly oversupply production power at events. We will employ a power logger to measure energy supply vs. actual use, to suggest a more sustainable energy use strategy and reduce emissions while still putting on an amazing show!

18. Carbon Emission Assessment
Carbon emissions are a major contributor to climate change, and assessing current emissions is the first step in building a carbon reduction strategy. This year we will internally assess the carbon footprint of certain aspects of our production to begin exploring  strategies that will help us shift toward a carbon neutral future.

19. Carbon Reduction Accounting
Waste is a major contributor to climate change, with disposables contributing to climate change at every stage of their lifecycle. Potential  changes in our emissions  due to waste source reduction efforts will be calculated and included in the baseline assessment.

20. Exploring Emission Reduction Opportunities
After completing the Carbon Emission Assessment, opportunities to lower emissions will be identified and considered for future years.

21. Providing Vegetarian + Vegan Entree Options
Animal agriculture has major impacts on our climate. All food vendors will provide at least one vegan or vegetarian entree for more climate-friendly menu choices! Vendors are also asked to source locally whenever possible.

22. Promoting Sustainable Transportation Options
Public transit is often much more climate-friendly than personal vehicles. We will promote the use of public transit, and you can find out more information on Denver’s light rail and bus systems here. You may also choose to utilize ride-share services, which are sometimes more climate-friendly than personal vehicles depending on number of passengers and distance.

23. Art Circularity
Circularity turns trash into treasure by diverting items from  waste streams and extending their lifecycle, which reduces emissions from both production and disposal of virgin products while providing a platform for education through their use in artwork. Meow Wolf prioritizes visual artists who use diverted materials, and will continue to explore if there are items from the event’s waste stream that can be transformed into future installations!

24. Exploring Existing & Future Circularity Opportunities
Circularity exists within Meow Wolf’s current operations, through their rescue, reuse and repurposing of certain materials. We will assess the existing circularity initiatives and explore additional opportunities to expand the circularity of materials and supplies within our operations and event sites.


25. External Communications
We’re using our platform to provide information about our sustainability program to serve as a source of education, increase transparency and empower you, our attendees, to get involved!

26. Onsite Signage Campaign
Signage will message sustainability programming onsite, including how you can participate throughout the event!

27. Dance Floor Clean-ups
Sustainability and waste management teams will caravan onto dance floors with trash bags in tow to help keep the party going without trash getting in your way!  – Keep an eye out for us and join in!

28. Exploring Opportunities for Artist Engagement
Artists will be informed of this program and how they can participate too!

29. Internal Communications
All employees and staff will receive sustainability guidelines prior to the event so that everyone understands their role in bringing this program to life!

30. Trainings for Employees, Staff, Vendors and Partners
Sustainability trainings will be created for appropriate employees, staff, vendors, and partners so that all teams involved understand their role in the program, increasing awareness and providing an opportunity for environmental education that they may take home or to other events with them!

31. Utilizing Only Local Vendors
All food and craft vendors are Colorado-based, in order to reduce emissions from travel and transport, enhance community pride and support the local economy.

32. Encouraging Local Sources and Crew Selection
Transport is a major contributor to carbon emissions, and we will encourage vendors to source locally when they can. Additionally many of our teams prioritize hiring Colorado-based crews to minimize transportation, support the local community and economy!

33. Reporting
All sustainability initiatives will be audited onsite and a final report will be compiled to include gathered data, success stories and key learnings. Auditing this program improves compliance and transparency while keeping us accountable and building a standard for future progress!