Willie Nelson tours across North America in a bus powered by biodiesel fuel. Pearl Jam plants thousands of trees in their native Washington to offset some of the carbon dioxide released during performances and while on tour. Radiohead also learned ways to manage their actions while on tour – such as sending musical equipment via freight ship instead of plane – and minimized their overall impact on the environment.
But what about the fans who travel to see these and other musicians perform live? What can we do to make musical events and concerts less damaging to the earth? Here are a few suggestions:
WEAR ECO-FRIENDLY SUNSCREEN PROTECTION
If you're attending any outdoor concerts this summer, it's imperative that you pack AND wear sunscreen. But not just any old sunscreen. Look for one that isn't tested on animals, is 100 percent biodegradable, and is free of artificial colors, unnecessary chemicals, animal products, and parabens. Read our article, Eco-Friendly Sun Protection – Sunscreen for the Green, to kick off your search and for specific brand recommendations.
BRING YOUR OWN WATER AND/OR BOTTLE
- Buying single-use plastic bottles at concerts is not only expensive for you, it's costly for the environment and the earth's resources.
- Each venue has its own set of restrictions for beverages and food items, but most outdoor concert locations will let fans bring clear plastic water bottles with them.
- So fill up your own reusable water bottle and take it to the concert with you.
- Consider purchasing a Nalgene On the Fly (OTF) water bottle, which is made from BPA-free plastic and features a one-handed, push-button closure.
- If you forget to bring a water bottle, keep an eye out for eco-friendly promotional merchandise. In 2008, Radiohead sold aluminum water bottles imprinted with the band name and tour dates at their merch booths.
TAKE ALTERNATIVE TRANSPORTAION
Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke is quoted in a GreenChipStocks.com article by Jimmy Mengel as saying, ‘ Some of our best ever shows have been in the U.S., but there's 80,000 people there and they've all been sitting in traffic jams for five or six hours with their engines running to get there, which is bollocks.'
- With that sentiment in mind, lighten your concert-going footprint by carpooling with friends or family.
- If that's not possible, connect with other concert-goers by logging on to PickupPal: a carpool service that helps people share rides to concerts. PickupPal is also available as an iPhone app!
- If even those options aren't possible, take the train, take a bus, ride your bike, or maybe even walk.
It took over $100,000 and several days of bulldozing tons of trash and debris to clean up the mess left behind after Woodstock.
- There are better garbage and recycling receptacles at both indoor and outdoor concert venues these days. But whether or not a mess is left behind after an event is really up to each concert-goer.
- Make sure you use garbage and recycling bins available to you. If you have something small you need to throw away but can't find one of these bins, hold onto it until you do find one.
- It's especially important that you don't litter at outdoor concerts: the litter can blow away and possibly enter local watersheds and harm wildlife.
- If you smoke at an outdoor concert, butt responsibly. If you leave your cigarette butts on the ground, they could eventually reach watersheds and make it possible for marine species to die from nicotine poisoning.
REUSE YOUR CUP
If you buy beer or soda on tap at a concert, it will come in a plastic cup. You're probably not going to just have one beer or soda, and that means there won't just be one plastic cup. You can try taking your plastic cup back with you when you want a refill to reduce waste. Not all vendors can allow this, however, due to health code issues.
CHOOSE TO SEE (AND HEAR) GREEN MUSIC CONCERTS
- The following musicians and bands are noted for their commitment to eco-causes: Pearl Jam, The Roots, Green Day, Jack Johnson, Thom Yorke of Radiohead, Willie Nelson, KT Tunstall, Guster, Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction, Sheryl Crow, Barenaked Ladies, Cloud Cult, Bonnie Raitt, and Moby.
- The greenest music festivals include Bonnaroo, in Tennessee, Lollapalooza, in Chicago, South by Southwest, in Texas, and Øyafestivalen, in Norway.