Musicians have long been catalysts for social change. When it comes to the environment though, the music industry has lagged behind. However, many musicians today are climbing aboard the “green” tour bus.
Why should they care? As a whole, the music industry contributes 150,000 tons of carbon emissions each year from tour buses, according to Wren Aigaki-Lander of Music Matters, a greening marketing agency. A typical mid-size venue can go through 470,000 plastic cups, 200,000 napkins and 600 light bulbs each year, not to mention the 24,000 plastic bags that will hold it all.
Touring Takes a Green Turn
This year, California-based rock band, Incubus plans to include serving organic food backstage, offering organic cotton T-shirts, and printing posters and flyers on 100-percent post-consumer recycled paper with soy ink. In addition, the band will fuel their tour buses with clean-burning biodiesel.
Playing the Green Guitar
Dave Welsh, the guitarist for The Fray, just got a new guitar—from 1966. “Old or vintage instruments are always cooler than new ones,” says Welsh. As prized tropical hardwoods disappear, instrument manufacturers are beginning to recognize the need for environmental reforms as well. Companies such as Gibson makes a Rainforest Alliance—certified version of its signature Les Paul guitar, while C. F. Martin offers a Sustainable Wood series. Dave Maize Acoustic Guitars employs reclaimed wood as well.
Record Labels Tune In
Major labels are investing in greener efforts as well. With 1.8 billion CDs sold worldwide every year, there is a lot of product to make green. As a first step, Warner Music Group (WMG) switched their paper inserts and board CD packaging to 30 percent post-consumer recycled paper, with the remaining content certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. They are also exploring opportunities to advance eco-conscious CD packaging made from compostable biobased plastics derived from agricultural residues.
For the Eco-Friendly Fan
If you are a fan looking to make eco changes of your own, there are plenty of ways to help while enjoying your favorite band’s performance:
- Ask venues to recycle and reusable utensils and begin recycling programs. If they don’t, take them home to recycle or don’t buy them at all.
- Carpool, ride a bike or take public transportation to events. See the Road Trips Tips in the Resource Box for more ideas if planning longer drives to music events.
- Buy organic cotton or hemp t-shirts where available or request them when they are not.
- Take this message home with you and pass it on to your friends.
Cloud Cult: Local Green Band
By Craig Minowa, Singer/Songwriter/Guitar
The band Cloud Cult operates by unique environmental practices that have been covered by the media from the New York Times to MTV News to National Public Radio. On top of buying Green Energy Credits and planting hundreds of trees per year to compensate for any energy used and pollution created, the band has established their own environmental record label, Earthology Records. They have declined major label offers based on their need to control the environmental aspects of their business. The band receives thousands of donated used CD jewel cases every year while hand cleaning them to eventually use them for their own CDs. The CD inserts are 100% post consumer recycled paper printed with nontoxic soy ink and wrapped in nontoxic shrink wrap. Cloud Cult’s recording studio runs on solar and wind power while being heated and cooled with sustainable geothermal energy. The band’s founders also work professionally with environmental advocacy nonprofits. As the Cloud Cult van moves from city to city, band members are working busily inside on their laptops and cell phones on issues ranging from water pollution to children’s environmental health to agricultural sustainability. Cloud Cult also recommends that consumers take their shopping seriously. Money is power, so exercise your power by doing the research necessary to buy products that support ethical businesses.
To learn more about Cloud Cult go to: cloudcult.com