The Amp and the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall have implemented venue-wide changes in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint, and they’ve dubbed the movement “The Green Hands Initiative.” As Ryan Murphy, the initiative’s driving force, sets off from St. Augustine, he leaves behind an impactful legacy of caring for the earth. You’ve probably seen the Green Hands logo during a concert or at the farmers’ market on a Saturday morning, so we sat down with Ryan to learn what this movement is really all about.
Social: Tell us a little bit about Green Hands. What is the organization’s purpose?
Ryan Murphy: Green Hands is a program that was put into place to help reduce the environmental impact of the Amp and the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall and all the events that we do. We felt that it was our responsibility to properly handle waste management and the footprint that we created with all the events we do. When you bring in thousands of people every night to enjoy a concert, they will most certainly be eating, drinking and creating a ton of waste…our goal was to handle this waste in the best way possible with environmental and forward thinking sustainability efforts. The purpose is not only that, but to help educate people that it is possible to make great changes with small efforts. We also wanted to make sure that we carried this mission into the community and beyond as much as possible.
What is your role with Green Hands?
My role from the beginning was to make sure that the mission of Green Hands stayed on track and that we were doing all that we could to really push the boundaries of what was possible in this regard. I helped start the program and have been making sure that it is growing in the way that it needs as well.
What inspired you to start the organization?
After we did the Mumford & Sons concert downtown, we were so impressed with the way that they handled their waste and cleanup efforts and it dawned on us that we could be doing so much more at the AMP and at our events as well. It was around that time that Jack Johnson was looking to play ONE show in Florida…and to even be in the running you had to agree to carry out some of the greening initiatives that he had in his “eco-rider.” This was the perfect template (and excuse) to really kickstart this program.
How long has Green Hands been in place?
We were kicking around a lot of the ideas prior to this, but really when Jack Johnson played in 2014 it was truly “born” and developed from there…slowly at first, but increasingly at an awesome and aspirational pace.
In a practical way, how does Green Hands carry out its mission?
We continue to keep an eye on what industry efforts (music and greening) are out there to help with the program so that we continue to evolve. We also try to inspire and educate as much as possible as I think people have the impression that to be “green” it is expensive and/or time consuming…which it truly isn’t and the inconvenience of any of it is more perception than anything.
Was it difficult to implement the changes on such a large scale?
Luckily we work with an amazing concessionaire company who really stepped up to the plate to help with these initiatives. I feel like we really dialed in the backstage and production elements of this program rather quickly and it was the concessions and patron consumption/waste that we felt would be the hurdle. But with the right people in place, we were able to do this rather quickly and painlessly with HUGE results.
How can guests of the Amp and the Concert Hall help the initiative?
By volunteering with our Green Hands program…or simply helping spread the word. I feel that communication and education are the most important elements of this entire program.
Are there plans to expand Green Hands beyond St. Johns County?
Absolutely. There have already been about a dozen venues from around Florida that have reached out to see about starting a similar program (or a chapter of Green Hands) at their facilities…as well as a ton from around the country. It was amazing to see that we are on the cutting edge of this movement and that we are inspiring so many other venues to “go green.” Ideally there will be a “Green Hands” chapter and program in every city across the country…especially any that have large venues that create such an impact.
What kind of impact do you hope the initiative has in the community and beyond?
I am already, truly, seeing the impact that I thought I could have only dream of a few years ago and that is that other venues, cities, and organizations are reaching out to learn more and share anything that they have been doing. If feels like not only is this a modest effort that got started here to handle our immediate impact, but that it is becoming more of a industry wide and nationwide effort…it’s amazingly inspiring.
Learn more about the Green Hands Initiative by visiting www.staugamphitheatre.com/p44-green-hands-committed-to-conservation. Photography by Kate Gardiner.