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Innovation

Musical Artists Are Taking Sustainably On Tour

Eric Ward

The spring and summer concert season is fast approaching. This means that large music festivals like Lollapalooza and Coachella are looking for new ways to make their festivals sustainable.

But, it’s not just festivals pushing sustainability – artists in every genre are looking for ways to make a difference individually during the concert season. Here are a few artists who recognize the importance of sustainability and are doing their part to ensure their tours make a positive impact.

Coldplay Concert // Photo Courtesy Jisu Han
Coldplay:

The British alternative rock band has long been a supporter of the environmental movement. In 2019, when they released their double album Everyday Life they announced that they would not tour due to the high environmental cost it would take to run a successful world tour. However, earlier last year, with the release of their newest album, Music of the Spheres, they announced that their world tour would be run as sustainably as possible.

The band is making a commitment to power their entire tour with renewable energy. Coldplay is planning on using bicycles and harnessing the kinetic energy from the dance floors, in addition to the solar energy they are using to power their shows. Additionally, they are producing their sets from bamboo, planting a tree for every ticket sold, and even recycling the cooking oil used at their shows. However, they understand that 90% of the emissions that come from touring are from air travel. In response to this, the band promised that when air travel is unavoidable, they would use sustainable aviation fuels. All of the band’s sustainability practices are aligned with the targets set by the United Nations Race to Zero Campaign.

Drake:

The Canadian superstar is well known for living an incredibly lavish lifestyle but that doesn’t stop him from living sustainably as well. The chart-topping rapper recently invested in a partnership with Aspiration, an environmentally-focused financial service that has attracted the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Downey Jr. and Orlando Bloom. However, Drake will also be using their services to help him track the carbon footprint of the travel and touring activities for his most recent chart-topping album Certified Lover Boy. He will use that information to offset its impact through Aspiration’s reforestation program.

But this partnership between Drake and Aspiration is not the first time Drake has ensured his touring activities were sustainable. His history with sustainability dates back to 2010, when he was a headliner for Reverb’s Campus Consciousness Tour, to raise awareness for environmental consciousness at college campuses.

Dead and Company:

The Grateful Dead has been an icon of the hippie movement since its inception in the 1960s. However, when they returned to touring as “Dead and Company” in 2015 after a twenty-year hiatus, they made sure that sustainability was at the top of their list. Last year, during their 2021 summer tour, the band partnered with Reverb, the music-based environmental non-profit to make their shows not only carbon neutral but eliminated five times more greenhouse gas emissions than the tour created, including those created from fan travel.

To attain this, the enduring jam band implemented a variety of projects including eliminating single-use water bottles, recycling and responsibly disposing of all batteries used on stage as well as donating all the toiletries from their hotel stays. In addition, the band donated one dollar from every ticket sold to renewable non-profit organizations that support issues ranging from grassland conservation to installing solar-powered street lamps. In all, Dead and Company raised over $1.5 million for these environmental nonprofits.

Photo Courtesy Danny Howe
Bon Iver:

The Wisconsin-based indie-folk group, led by famed multi-instrumentalist Justin Vernon has enjoyed fame on a large scale ever since its breakout album For Emma, Forever Ago was released in 2009. While the often reclusive artist writes lyrics that are thoughtful, impressionistic, and highly symbolic, Vernon’s most recent album I,  directly references the global climate issues at hand with lines like “how long can you disregard this heat?” scattered throughout his somewhat pointed fourth studio album. 

Bon Iver’s touring practices followed in the same direction, looking for a thoughtful way to tour sustainably. The band eventually partnered with Wisconsin print shop Ambient Inks for an entirely American-made sustainable merchandise line, using recycled plastics for the polyester and recycled cotton that is usually considered waste. In the 2019 portion of their tour alone, they saved almost 10,000,000 gallons of water, conserved 30,000 ounces of crude oil from use, and kept 74,500 ounces of harmful chemicals out of the environment, all from selling 23,000 garments.

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