Summer is a great time to enjoy live music, and aroundthis time of year droves of musicians hit the road to play shows fortheir fans far and wide. But the drastic environmental impact incurredby artists’ touring practices can easily go ignored, and concertgoersthemselves often greatly contribute to live music’s carbon footprint.Thankfully, many bands and live music aficionados are acutely aware oftheir effect on the planet, and they’re incorporating alternative,sustainable options into shows.
Transporting musicians, instruments, and sound gear from show to show by car, bus, and plane requires huge amounts of fuel. But musicianssuch as alternative-country icon Willie Nelson and grunge band Pearl Jam run their tour buses with biodiesel fuel, which significantly cuts down on their carbon emissions.
Still, musicians are only half the equation when it comes totransportation. Getting hundreds, thousands, and sometimes even tens ofthousands of music lovers from far-flung locales to the same venue canalso spiral into an ecological nightmare. But fans are doing their partto cut down on transportation emissions by carpooling, taking publictransportation, and biking to shows. They’re also attending shows atvenues closer to home instead of traveling long distances to othercities to see a concert, which is a great way to both save money on gasand become more familiar with local music scenes.
Food is another area where musicians are taking steps to reduce their environmental impact. Bands need to eat when they’re on the road. Buttouring presents artists with few options for quality food, and most ofthe choices don’t do the planet much good. The usual touring standby,for example, is to pick up a burger at a fast food joint. A studyby Stockholm University, however, shows that the greenhouse gasesemitted annually in the U.S. production of cheeseburgers (a fast foodstaple) can be as high as the equivalent of putting 19.6 million SUVs on the road.
Fortunately, bands have found ways to bypass this wastefulness in away beneficial to both the earth and their taste buds. Most cities have farmers markets, and artists have found that making pit stops at thesegatherings is a great way to load up on tasty, locally sourced produce.Bands that buy food in bulk also cut down on the waste used inpackaging.
Musicians also have to stay hydrated in addition to staving offhunger. But fans and band members commonly use disposable plastic waterbottles at shows, which has an enormously negative impact on the environment. That’s why bands such asRadiohead only use reusable water containers, and even provide water flasks to other bandstouring with them so they can do the same. And when bands andconcertgoers alike thirst for something other than water—perhapssomething from behind the venue’s bar—the green-savvy opt for on-tap beer that’s preferably locally brewed rather than the imported,bottled options that waste glass and transportation fuel.
Some decisions remain out of artists’ and fans’ control, such as howclub owners choose to power their venue. To offset these activitiesbands such as Pearl Jam invest money in environmentally consciousprograms such as Conservation International, an organization that worksto preserve rainforest in Madagascar. Others employ novel ideas such as makingtheir concerts ticketless events in which attendees pay for tickets online and simply show acredit card and ID for entrance, which prevents huge amounts of paperwaste.
Being environmentally friendly and having a great time seeing livemusic are by no means incompatible goals. When artists and fans worktogether to create a greener concert-going experience everyone wins,including the earth.
Source: Bands andtheir fans are making efforts to make concerts and festivals moresustainable, as CAP explains in this repost.
Image: Marc Brownstein of the Disco Biscuits