Jam Cruise 6 – Sailing Green & Sustainable Jan 4-9, 2008

Glide’s Julie van Amerongen recently spoke with Jam Cruise’s Greening Coordinator Ann Kenworthy about the floating festival’s effort to implement biodiesel, while staying course on a greening program. 

Setting sail January 4-9, 2008, Jam Cruise 6 features Warren Haynes, Michael Franti & Spearhead, the Funky Meters, Galactic, Soulive, Yonder Mountain String Band, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, and the Everyone Orchestra featuring Steve Kimock, Jon Fishman and Jeff Coffin. As we look forward to setting sail, Ann keeps us afloat and educated on the efforts to keep the cruise as green and sustainable as feasible.

Last year, in a Glide Magazine interview, Marc Ross from Rock the Earth said: “It is our number one goal for 2008’s Jam Cruise to have the boat powered by biodiesel. If we are successful, it will be the first passenger cruise ship to leave a U.S. port using alternative fuel. And then the rest of the industry will take notice.” Can you give us an update?

Since last year, there has been one major cruise line that has been experimenting with biodiesel, but without much publicity. Nonetheless, this is a very exciting development in the cruise industry. Although Jam Cruise won’t be the first passenger cruise trip to use biodiesel, we are still working very hard to implement a biodiesel component on our January 2008 cruise.

We were very fortunate to have John Long of Blue Sun Biodiesel aboard with us on Jam Cruise 5 last January. Not only did John provide biodiesel tutorials for our passengers, but he also met with the ship’s Chief Engineer to obtain the technical information necessary to move forward with our goal of using biodiesel on Jam Cruise 6. Jam Cruise continues to work in partnership with Blue Sun and MSC Cruises to make this a reality. Blue Sun is currently working with the cruise line’s engine manufacturer to implement a testing phase with pure biodiesel (B100). If the testing phase is successful, and Jam Cruise is powered by 100% biodiesel, we will achieve a significant reduction of all harmful emissions, especially carcinogens, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and greenhouse gasses that contribute to global warming, including carbon dioxide.

You have to realize that a change on this scale takes significant time to achieve because the cruise line has not used alternative fuels in the past. But we are cautiously optimistic that if Blue Sun continues to put its best effort forward with the test program, and MSC realizes the benefits of using biofuels, that Jam Cruise will be a catalyst for change not only with this particular cruise line, but will set an example for the entire cruise industry.

What are some of the challenges particular to greening a floating festival as opposed to a festival on land?

The challenges are many. First off, we are changing some of the practices and procedures that the cruise line ordinarily undertakes, and this takes an extraordinary amount of communication and cooperation between the greening staff and cruise line management. For example, Jam Cruise’s recycling program has necessitated the cruise line to change its typical practices of sorting waste streams for the duration of our voyage, and the final destination of those waste streams are rerouted from their typical endpoint, which ordinarily would be the ocean floor. Probably the biggest challenge for the cruise line is accommodating the need for storage of the recyclable materials, which requires an appropriate holding area on the ship and then must be offloaded and transported to a recycling facility in South Florida. Just finding the space to hold the massive amounts of glass, aluminum and plastic that is generated by Jam Cruisers is a major challenge, particularly when you consider that our cruise has about five times the customary bar consumption that a typical cruise has.

Another unique challenge is that we don’t have access to the cruise ship until the day Jam Cruise sets sell, whereas with most land based festivals the event producers have access to the site days or weeks before the event begins. This makes Day 1 extremely hectic as everyone is scrambling to get things set up as quickly as possible. Anyone who has sailed on Jam Cruise in the past can attest to the extraordinary feat of setting up all the equipment, which has to be craned onto the ship and set up within a matter of hours. We literally hit the deck running. For greening, this means we have to first find our equipment before we can get the recycling operation and Greening Headquarters set up. We also have to coordinate on the spot with the trash room, the Food & Beverage manager and the Housekeeping manager to assure that the new procedures will be followed correctly. On top of the fact that everyone is being pulled in ten different directions on the first day, we also have to deal with the language barrier which is always an interesting challenge when working with the ship’s international crew.

People need to keep in mind that, although Jam Cruise has made some notable achievements with its greening program, and some of the environmentally progressive cruise lines have implemented some very important improvements, the industry as a whole has a long way to go in the realm of environmental stewardship. Changes on this scale can be slow, but change is happening. Some of the newer cruise ships are employing state of the art technology for waste management and waste reduction. There are even some cruise ships that have the capability of treating sewage to drinking water quality. The cruise lines need to be encouraged by consumers to make the necessary changes.

Probably the biggest challenge for me personally over the past five years coordinating Jam Cruise’s greening program has been dealing with the criticism from people who believe it is impossible to green a cruise trip. I have heard many people say they would never participate in a cruise based festival because of their undeniable environmental impact, and I totally respect their conviction and point of view. On the other hand, these floating festivals are going to happen with or without active greening programs, so why not help the producers take on-going and progressive steps to minimize their impact? When I find myself struggling with the challenges of greening Jam Cruise I have to remind myself that each year we have found effective ways to make a difference and we have raised the consciousness and participation of our passengers. Are we 100% green and sustainable? No, but we are making progress. The word “greening” is an action verb, which means it is in a state of becoming. It is a journey that requires ongoing steps and achievements. Each step along the way brings us closer to the ultimate destination.

Previously Jam Cruise greening efforts have included a towel/linen reuse program and provided biodegradable soap for passengers to use in their cabins. Have you seen evidence that these or other programs you institute on Jam Cruise have any lasting impact on changing the way the cruise line addresses these issues on their other (non-music) voyages?

Honestly, I don’t really know. But I definitely think we have caught the attention of the cruise lines we have worked with. It’s important for the cruise lines to know that there is a growing segment of consumers out there who want their travel and entertainment options to be environmentally and socially responsible. We are delivering the message that these things matter, and we are planting the seeds of possibility. It’s up to the cruise lines to realize that environmental and social responsibility is a viable, vital, and sustainable business strategy.

This year Jam Cruise is working in partnership with ZeroHero Events to take greening efforts to a new level. Describe some of the ways passengers will be able to participate in becoming a ZeroHero.

Jam Cruise passengers will become ZeroHeros  in three ways. First and foremost, they will manage our waste! The passengers will actually be trained to presort our waste at designated recycling stations. This year Jam Cruise is making the switch to keg beer; cutting down on close to 40,000 beer bottles used during our previous cruise. The switch will also include using biodegradable plastic cups, called PLA (poly-lactic acid), which is derived from corn. We’ll separate out the cups for a trial PLA second-generation program, turning our used beer cups into another product down the line!

Our second ZeroHero strategy considers our energy use and offsetting our CO2 emissions. In addition to our potential use of 100 percent biodiesel, our passengers can also choose to purchase carbon offsets through the non-profit organization Trees Water and People (TWP) jam to offset their personal travel to/from Fort Lauderdale and help offset the carbon emissions from the cruise ship. TWP’s fuel-saving stoves program, tree planting nurseries and solar energy projects all reduce the amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses being released into the atmosphere. A representative from TWP will be on board to demonstrate how TWP’s Justa stoves program offsets carbon and is helping build sustainable communities in Honduras and other Central American countries. This unique award winning carbon-offset program also improves air quality of the thousands of homes where they’re installed. This is one of the ways Jam Cruise can leave a positive legacy in the communities we travel to.

A third way to become a ZeroHero is to get involved with the green team. Passengers can volunteer a shift on Jam Cruise as a waste educator at the recycling stations and they can help spread the word about our greening efforts. Other activities include helping with a beach clean while in port, learning about local ecology during an educational snorkeling trip, and attending sustainable living panel discussions. The best way to green Jam Cruise is by making everyone a ZeroHero!

What have you learned over the past five years of working on this program?

I have learned a lot of things. And I’m still learning every day. But the lesson that keeps coming back to me again and again is — communication, communication, communication. Since the Jam Cruise greening program has always been a team effort, and there have been a variety of people that I have had the opportunity to collaborate with over the years, I have constantly been reminded of how important communication is. It’s imperative that I am in constant communication with Jam Cruise management and staff, the folks on the green team, the cruise line and their crew, partner organizations and sponsors, the Jam Cruise passengers and the general public as well. The way a person speaks and thinks can either enhance or hinder mutual understanding. I have to constantly check-in with people to make sure everyone is on the same page and that we have a common vision and understanding of the direction we are going. In order to avoid misunderstandings and frustrations the communication has to be ongoing. When we understand and acknowledge each other’s ideas and feelings, and we express our appreciation for each other’s contributions, we create effective and satisfying relationships that move us forward through each component of successful event planning and execution.

For more information, be sure to visit  the Jam Cruise 6 Greening web page.

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