It isn’t cheesy being green, and these
musicians will tell you why.
BY LAVINIA JONES
In just a few
short years, it seems like the entire music industry has caught Green
Fever. What was once just a crusade for
a few devout Earth-loving jam bands and hippie festivals has become status quo
for conscientious music creators of all genres.
Environmentalism is becoming hip.
And artists are getting creative in their efforts to save the planet. BLURT
polled a few of our friends to see just exactly what today’s thinking man’s
bands are doing to combat global warming and keep things cool.
It can be tough
to cut down your environmental footprint when you’re livelihood requires you to
be traveling everywhere in a van or a bus or plane. We keep the tires filled
with air, which cuts down on gas mileage, we never, ever stop at fast food
places on the highway ’cause those places are always anti-life force and we
bring reusable cups from home, so that we’re not just consuming and creating
garbage. I’ve also got a solar powered backpack that charges up my phone, iPod,
laptop, etc. My wife and I definitely make an effort to do “green”
stuff in our personal lives like using cloth diapers, driving a Prius, we
always shop and buy food local and organic, that last point is an absolute
Beth Tacular of the Bowerbirds:
We lived for
several years off grid in an AirStream trailer, and now we are building an
off-grid cabin out of salvaged materials that will utilize low-impact
techniques like greywater, solar and rainwater catchment. We also have a
car that runs on biodiesel, and we try to eat local and organic and buy most
things used or make them ourselves. On the road, we refill our own reusable
water bottles and eat mostly at food co-ops.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals:
When we’re out
on tour we’ll all walk to the grocery store when we can to avoid using cars,
and we are all about the reusable shopping bags instead of getting plastic.
We’ve also tried to cut back on small bottles of water by buying the big jugs
and using individual mugs.
Be Hussey of Radar Brothers:
Zach Rogue of Rogue Wave:
I decided in the
fall to become a vegetarian. The level of pollution modern industrial food
production causes as well as the misery it causes innocent animals is something
we’ve decided to get away from. It’s easy to do, and there’s the extra tiny
benefit of living longer.
I recycle all
beer cans and whiskey bottles.
Eric Lindley of Careful:
Of course gas is
terrible when traveling, so I try to fit pedals, cables, etc. in a backpack – and
bring only the instruments I can carry – in order to take public transportation
whenever possible. I also try to stay
with friends who have a kitchen whenever I can so I can cook my own meals and
not have to get the typical, over-packaged food available on the road.
We partner with
REVERB, which helps bands at all different stages of touring plan
environmentally sustainable tours. We’ve been working with them since we
were in a van. Also, instead of buying carbon offsets, I donate their
equivalent to education programs or indigenous organizations working towards
wind energy and clean water.
Craig Minowa of Cloud Cult:
We plant several
hundred trees each year to absorb our CO2. We also fund the construction of new
wind turbines. All of our merch is 100% postconsumer recycled content or
certified organic. And we continue to expand our environmental nonprofit,
Earthology Institute, which helps to green schools as well as the music
All of our CDs
are printed on recycled paper and shrink wrapped in soy plastics, our 100%
organic tour T-Shirts are printed using vegetable-based inks. We’re driving a hybrid vehicle that gets 52
miles to the gallon and also purchasing wind energy credits to negate our
remaining Carbon Footprint.
Todd Fink of The Giving Tree Band:
implemented a zero-waste policy on our tours by recycling and composting
everything. Additionally, we are excited to be launching an Earth Day
sale of our past releases, Great
Possessions and Unified Folk Theory,
exclusively through our website. Half of
the proceeds will be donated to our environmental partner, Global Green USA, a
non-profit organization focused on stemming global climate change, eliminating
weapons of mass destruction, and providing clean water to the 2.4 billion
people without access to it.
Adam Gardner of Guster:
Guster has been
working hard to lessen its impact on the environment while also engaging our
fans, our peers in other bands and the music industry itself to take real steps
to protect the planet. In 2004, my wife and I started the environmental
non-profit, REVERB, that has greened over 85 major tours including Dave
Matthews Band, Maroon 5, John Mayer, Coldplay and John Legend and has worked
with numerous venues, radio stations and record labels to help them establish
more sustainable practices. Greening efforts include powering shows with
wind power, fueling busses and trucks with sustainably produced biodiesel,
various waste reductions, fan carpool programs for concerts, and sourcing
catering from local family farms.
John Wesley Harding:
I am buying a
bike (and I shall use it as often as possible, while whistling “Bicycle Race”
Let’s face it,
plastic bags suck and are very harmful to our planet! So I try to use as little
plastic as possible. I use my own cloth
bags when we go shopping. I live out in the country and have loads of critters,
so I use non-toxic dishwashing liquid and shampoo. Every little bit
Ray Wylie Hubbard:
I take my own
glass bottles of water or tea to gigs. I take all boxes, cardboard and paper
from CD shipments and mail them to the recycling place in San Marcos once a
week. All unsolicited CDs sent to the office get glued to the ceiling or used
in art projects for a youth group and the jewel cases get reused in the office.
Food scraps, newspaper and coffee grounds go on the compost pile. I
do this every day, not just Earth Day.
The truth is
that we’re really not doing anything special on the road to be
“green,” other than smoking a hell of a lot of weed! I wish that we
could say that we rented a hybrid, but there isn’t really one big enough to
take us on the road for a long time. I wish we could say that we stayed at
“green” hotels, but other than some progressive cities, they don’t
really exist. This really points out how
much work is needed to be collectively “green.” So as much as I’d
like to be supportive of the cause more needs to be done to really get people
behind the concept.
CDs means using less plastic!
I do most of my
fishing from man-powered watercraft.
Rob Miller (owner, Bloodshot Records):
plastic, we are making our CD covers out of baby harp seal pelts. So much
softer… but seriously folks, I am a compulsive recycler: over two tons of
paper/cardboard last year from the office.
All the unwanted/unlistenable demos are recycled to a plastics
company. All our shipping materials are
made from 100% recycled content. And for
the past three years, we’ve been moving from plastic jewel cases to paperboard
digipaks (with varying degrees of recycled content.)
Stephanie Morgan of stephaniesĭd:
green and staying economically afloat tend to work together in the band
world. On tour, we pack ourselves in the tiniest van possible for fitting
ourselves and our gear, and we’ve been smarter about where we travel in general
(now the criterion is “is the love really there for us?”). And
we’re planting lots of stuff in our gardens!
Christine Ohlman of Rebel Montez:
ourselves (all of ourselves) into the smallest possible vehicle and hit the
road on a regular basis. Twenty-five percent of us (that’s one) drive a hybrid.
We’re determined to use less gas, less oil, and travel green.
Eric Nally of Foxy Shazam:
We will simply
appreciate the scenery as we drive from show to show. We know that it’s special
and that’s all that matters to us.
Emma Cooper of Standard Fare:
has fair-trade T-Shirts. We try to get the train when we can and car-share when
we can. Emma is also doing a PhD in Green Chemistry, and her work is part of
a larger project working to find sustainable alternatives to the
current petrochemical-based system. We also do Fundraiser gigs for
environmental causes such as reducing traffic in city centers.
We gon’ keep on
recyclin’, relaxin’ and re-joicin’ in the true, evergreen spirit of ROCK AND
Image above is Rob Cobb’s
1969 Ecology Flag. Bands, readers: tell us your own stories of how you’ve “gone
green” or otherwise tried to make a difference, in the comments section, below.