Global Citizen Festival is going green, which could mean more free merch for you

The free fest is implementing its first-ever recycling incentive program.

The Global Citizen Festival has always been about more than seeing your favorite artists in Central Park.

The fest with the steep goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030 has managed to appeal to hundreds of thousands of millennials for the past six years by asking trendy names like Rihanna and The Killers speak out about global social issues.

“Our greatest activists are our millennials,” says David Beame, the fest’s vice president of events and experiences. “The youth are the most active and most interested in using their voice to create change for the world’s poor.”

The 2018 festival, set for Saturday, will see Cardi B’s post-pregnancy return to the stage along with performances by The Weeknd, Janet Jackson, Janelle Monae, Shawn Mendes and John Legend.

The win-your-way-in event trades action journey “missions” — like tweeting using #UnplasticThePlanet or #SheIsEqual and calling local elected officials — for tickets to see the fest’s stacked performance lineup in person.

This year, however, Global Citizen decided the action journeys shouldn’t end once fans step foot on festival grounds. Hoping to lead by example, the fest is aiming to host a sustainable event to minimize the waste impact on Central Park and the city.

It’s no surprise festivals produce an immense amount of waste. Studies have found the 15-day Coachella music festival results in upward of 107 tons of non-recycled waste each day. And while Global Citizen is far smaller in scale, the organizers hope to kick off a chain reaction of sustainability, starting with this year’s event.

“We’re looking to show we care not only about our Central Park but also the environment as a whole,” Beame says. “We want to become a leader for sustainability models for other festivals. I think we can all learn from each other, so we’re trying to start that conversation.”

Of course, you’re involved: a new on-site reward system will be implemented.

Fans who choose reusable water bottles and metal straws, take public transportation, and toss garbage in recycling cans at “eco hubs” around the park will rack up tickets that can be traded in for free stuff.

“The more you recycle, the more free merchandise you get, starting with temporary tattoos to festival T-shirts,” Beame says. “I think we’re the first ones to ever incentivize this on-site.”

The fest has also teamed up with Brooklyn-based nonprofit Sure We Can to collect cans to benefit the city’s homeless, and with Vita Coco to offset its entire carbon footprint.

Comparing the last two festivals, Global Citizen has already reduced its waste production by 44 percent year-over-year.

“We’re trying to create as little impact as possible,” he adds.

IF YOU GO: Global Citizen Festival takes place Saturday on the Great Lawn at Central Park.

Action journeys are currently closed, but tickets will be handed out at select events coinciding with the UN General Assembly meetings. Visit for more information on Global Citizen Week events.

You can purchase VIP tickets through resale sites for $139 and up.

Meghan Giannotta