Eco-friendly world tour

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By Stacy Lee

By Stacy Lee

Presidential candidates have done it. Hollywood celebrities have done it, too.

Now it’s the music industry’s turn to “go green.”

This new “go green” trend within the music industry comes at the perfect time when environmental issues appear to be a major concern for many people.

Most people only know of the glamorous, fun side of the music industry, such as the CDs, concerts and various merchandise.

However, many do not realize that there is a darker side; one that can be very environmentally taxing.

According to Thom Yorke, the lead singer of the band Radiohead, constant touring takes major amounts of fuel to go from concert to concert and electrical energy to put on the show.

In addition, concerts generate large amounts of trash from ticket stubs to the non-reusable plastic plates and cups, as well as the paper for fliers printed and thrown away before the show even begins.

Thankfully, many musicians are realizing this ecological threat and are using their music as a “medium to engage people emotionally about environmental issues,” said Daniel Mottola for the Austin Chronicle.

“We can’t save the planet overnight, but this is our way of saying everyone has to start somewhere,” said Korn front man Jonathan Davis, who went on to say that “as a touring band, it’s our responsibility to start making a difference.”

On the forefront of the trend to “go green” is the Vans Warped Tour. Not only did it create a program called the Warped Eco Initiatives to bring ecological knowledge to the fans, it restructured the whole tour to become more eco-friendly as well.

In addition to using a solar-powered main stage, this year’s tour will eliminate waste from disposable plates by using washable dishware and utensils for the bands and crew.

The tour plans on using various blends of biodiesel fuel, which is a mixture of vegetable oil and diesel fuel, in the tour’s 17 buses and nine big-rig trucks.

The tour will also be collaborating with the environmental organization EarthEcho International, which is a non-profit organization on the front lines of ocean conservation, to create eco-friendly “programs that encourage awareness through action, and to bring these initiatives into the collective fan consciousness,” said the Vans Warped Tour press release.

In addition to concert tours, many musicians have also jumped on the biodiesel bandwagon.

Artists like Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Young and the Indigo Girls are all supporters.

The band Piebald took alternative fueling one step further by using only vegetable oil for all its touring vehicles.

Some artists have taken going green to other endeavors. One example is The Fray, who plays on vintage guitars then turns the used strings into jewelry.

Another example is Pearl Jam, who plans to donate $100,000 to several organizations doing climate-change reform activities.

Musicians are not the only ones in the industry pushing to “go green.” Record labels, such as Warner Music Group, are jumping on the trend as well.

They decided to review its greenhouse gas emissions in hopes of reducing its “carbon footprint” from new album releases.

In addition, some companies have ditched the traditional CD jewel case and started using “Digipaks,” which are mostly paperboard with a plastic tray to hold the CD.

Not only are labels, tours and musicians going green, they are encouraging fans to get involved in the efforts as well by offering incentives like priority parking spots for those who carpool to shows, which is what MusicMatters, a Minneapolis-based marketing firm is working on.

Some concert festivals are also taking it upon themselves to get fans involved.

Seattle’s Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival rewarded fans who rode bikes, used public transportation or carpooled by offering them energy bars and water bottles during the show.

The Vans Warped Tour also plans to offer a page for each date of the 2009 tour with information on public transportation and message boards for carpooling, as well as eco-friendly contests.

They will also be teaming up with EarthEcho International to organize a volunteer watershed cleanup at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Monterey, California.

The music industry’s push to “go green” may not fix all of the ecological problems created by the manufacturing of CDs and constant touring, but it is a great start.

Styx front man Tommy Shaw once said, “we have but one Earth, and by each of us doing one little thing, we can make an enormous difference for generations to come.”

Our generation is doing its part and hopefully future generations will do the same.

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