Marina McCoy

Sustainability and Ski Business Resort Management alumna Marina McCoy enjoys a sunset

Major: Interdisciplinary Studies in Sustainability , Ski Business and Resort Management

Class of: 2016

Marina McCoy, raised in the green mountains of Vermont, recognized her deep passion for the environment during her first environmental studies class at SNC Tahoe, and she’s never looked back. As the Student Government Association’s first Sustainability Chair, she tirelessly encouraged student sustainability initiatives on campus with help and Green Fund support, and worked to develop a campus wide composting program.

For her Interdisciplinary Studies Service Learning Project, she was the Educational Program Assistant for climate change activists Protect Our Winters, reaching out to middle and high schools about the POW climate change program Hot Planet/Cool Athletes. The connections she made at POW resulted in an invitation to lead new sustainability efforts at the Friendly Gathering music festival back in her home state of Vermont. This experience inspired her after graduation to found the sustainability coordination and consulting company Waste-Free Earth, which works to reduce the environmental impacts of music festivals and other large events.

Festivals create community, but the over 800 music festivals every year in the U.S. also have a significant environmental footprint. Over 32 million people attend at least one festival per year, traveling over 900 miles on average to get to there, for over 28 billion miles traveled each year.

“That’s 142 trips around the earth, twenty eight million pounds of CO2 released into the atmosphere every year from car emissions alone. Waste Free Earth works with festival organizers, staff, artists, volunteers, and vendors to implement sustainability initiatives such as free water bottle filling stations, compostable single use products, and Green Team representatives at every “zero waste” station to spread the word about recycling, composting, and landfills.”

At TEDx South Lake Tahoe in October 2016, where McCoy was one of nine speakers, she shared examples of her team’s successes and her hopes to inspire festival goers to embrace sustainability in their own lives. At the three day Frendly Gathering, her first and favorite festival, 3,500 music lovers reduced their waste from about 26,000 to 12,000 pounds and decreased their recycling by 25 percent with the help of the Green Team. At WinterWonderGrass, a three day Bluegrass and Acoustic Roots festival with an attendance of about 4,000, her team was able to divert 31,000 pounds of waste into composting and recycling waste streams, leaving less than 4,000 pounds going into landfills.

Sustainability and Ski Business Resort Management alumna Marina McCoy lives in her van
Sustainability and Ski Business Resort Management alumna Marina McCoy speaks at TEDx in South Lake Tahoe
Sustainability and Ski Business Resort Management alumna Marina McCoy works with her company Waste Free Earth

She encouraged the TEDx audience to “vote your festival”, choosing from the most sustainable events so festival producers will upgrade their practices.

“This isn’t just about music festivals. It’s about using music festivals as a platform to inspire environmental sustainability in our everyday lives and in our communities. Imagine the kind of impact that would have.”

Marina in the News
TEDx South Lake Tahoe:

The SNC Eagle’s Eye covers Marina’s TEDx talk:

SNC Student Bekah Ashley’s interview with Marina on Tahoe TV:
SNC’s Sustainability Program:

Marina’s Article about her experience with TEDx in Tahoe Daily Tribute:

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Katherine Zanto
Interdisciplinary Studies Program Chair

Undergraduate Admissions
FAX: 775-831-6223