How Top Artists are Greening Their Tours (once we’re past coronavirus of course)

Festivals are facing mounting pressure to clean up their act, lower emissions and cut down on waste. Here are some easy ways you can enjoy a festival this summer without trashing the planet. <br /><br />Pictured: Litter collectors clearing the fields in front of the main Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival in the UK.

Concerts and music festivals produce a tremendous amount of waste–Coachella alone produces 107 tons of trash for every day of the festival. In fact, live (and especially outdoor) concerts have been described as an environmental nightmare which is why certain artists are beginning to make commitments to go green at their live events:

  • Coldplay announced in November that it wouldn’t go on tour to promote its latest album, Everyday Life, until it could find a way to make concerts more sustainable and beneficial to the environment.
  • The Dave Matthews Band said in January it would offset carbon emissions created by its 2020 summer tour by planting a million trees. And electronic dance pioneer
  • Massive Attack is planning to tour Europe by train, considered a more eco-friendly mode of transport, and work with a climate research center to track its carbon footprint.
  • Pop superstar Billie Eilish announced an upcoming eco-friendly world tour.

The Footprint of Concerts: Whenever you have hundreds (or thousands if you’re talking about a music festival) of people traveling to an event, the emissions and trash stack up pretty quickly. From diesel generators to the emissions of cars driven to the venue and the thousands of single-use plastic containers that are served–concerts and music festivals are in much need of an eco overhaul. While some festivals are making the effort to green their practices, there’s very little guidance for how concert and festival organizers can make more sweeping changes.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of data on just how carbon and resource-intensive concerts truly are. That’s why scientists from the University of Manchester are creating a blueprint to help bands and pop stars to perform live and tour the world without contributing to climate change–Massive Attack is one of the bands working to give data to this project.

Why This Matters: We’ve seen just about every major music tour canceled this week as a result of the coronavirus. At the same time, there have been quite a few parallels between coronavirus and climate change: effectively climate change is a colossal human health hazard that’s being played out over a decade whereas COVID-19 has been swift. As we grapple with this pandemic, we should also take the time to assess how our systems and society need to change to prepare for the effects of climate change. Concerts are actually a good place to start to raise awareness as musicians have a lot of influence on their fans and are able to get them engaged in environmental issues.

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