Greening the Music Industry: Eco friendly bands

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It is hard to think of the music industry and musicians as being green – especially when musicians travel from city to city on large buses, use tons of lighting and other visual effects, and their attendees consume large amounts of food and drink that in most cases, ends up in a landfill.  Additionally, the music industry is the second dirtiest industry in the world, which, according to Leslie Uppinghouse, the production manager of Austin’s South by Southwest festival, is surpassed only by the construction industry.  Every year, tour buses contribute approximately 150,000 tons of carbon emissions, a stadium performance can contribute anywhere from 500 to 1,000 tons of carbon emissions, and a midsize venue uses 470,000 plastic cups, 200,000 napkins, and 600 lightbulbs.  That is a lot of waste!

However, for all you music lovers and concert goers, have no fear: there is a silver lining to the music industry’s giant carbon emission thunderhead cloud.  Several record labels and musicians have taken great strides in becoming eco-conscious.  Warner Music Group, the third largest record company in the industry, uses DVD liner notes that contain 30% post-consumer paper made from wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).  Over the last year, the company’s nationwide waste reduction and recycling program has eliminated almost 4,000,000 pounds of solid waste.  Eco friendly musicians from all genres are also embracing sustainability and committing to reducing their carbon footprint.  According to Grist, Pearl Jam ranks number one of all green bands, donating $100,000 to nine organizations focused on climate change, renewable energy, and other green causes.  They also donated to a fund aimed at preserving Madagascan rainforest, staged benefit concerts and toured on a biodiesel bus. 

Many artists are also partnering with Reverb to become green.  Reverb is a non-profit environmental organization based in Portland, Maine that focuses on greening music tours with a focus on education and outreach.  Since 2004 they have greened more than 80 tours and reached over 10 million music fans, including a focus on college tours that empower students to lower their carbon footprint and start their own environmental campaigns.   

Human Powered Concerts?

Though all efforts to green the music industry are exciting and important, one recent concert in particular stands out.  New York City hosted the first human powered concert last summer.  Sponsored by Pedal Power NYC and powered by 16 bicycles and 250 volunteers, the concert was part of the NYC Celebrates Water Festival that promotes clean drinking water in NYC.

So while the music industry has a long way to go before it is environmentally friendly, it is certainly making progress. Until then, do your part to reduce your environmental footprint at concerts. Carpool or take public transportation to and from the event, reduce your use of plastic containers, and support artists that are working to reduce their carbon footprint.