Attempting to save our planet can seem like an overwhelming task in a fast-paced, ever chaotic industry like ours. But small changes in various areas can make an immense impact on the way we look at production, waste, and spreading healthier habits amongst fellow industry professionals. For further insight, we talked to Evan Hazlett, (President of DePaul Music Business Organization and founder of Floof Festival) and Molli Kleeman (Warehouse Manager at GolfWang, and Executive Assistant at Envisioned Arts) about things they are changing in their industry work. Molli tells us to start with the obvious ones: “Food/drink/merchandise create amounts of waste that can be quantified to the human eye. We see the cups/straws that people throw away after drinking their beer or their smoothie. We see the plates, napkins, utensils, and food thrown out throughout the day. We see the plastic bags given to people after purchasing their favorite band’s hoodie.” Here are some important things to consider in trying to figure out where you can implement healthier habits and create a wider impact on the ways we view waste.
Use Your Influence
Help others pay closer attention to their waste reduction, and become more aware of the small lifestyle changes that they can make. Whether you work on or off stage, messages in the entertainment industry have the power to travel further than other industries. Although it can seem immeasurable how far your influence reaches, it is important to maintain a message of sustainability throughout your brand.
Marketing and Merch
Merchandise and marketing materials can often feel wasteful. Bands and venues print tons of posters that stay up for a week, a month at most, and then get tossed away. But there are ways in which venues and bands can take control of their waste with a more environmentally conscious approach. If you work at a venue, don’t print more posters than necessary. This falls under the category of more tangible waste that we can see, as Molli explained. Simply having signs above the respective cans (trash, recycling, compost), allowing those who are unaware to quickly glance and dispose their things into the correct bin can make a big difference. Merch Managers, try to encourage healthy practices through the items you sell. Try reusable water bottles, or lighters instead of matches. Don’t give out plastic bags with your merch unless you have to. As a collective, do some brainstorming to figure out what types of merch could be helpful in supporting greener practices. If you’re going to sell t-shirts, make sure they are made with the environment in mind. Bands don’t always have the cash to spend, but consider selling earth conscious merch at slightly higher prices while opening up the conversation about sustainability to your fans.
Behind The Scenes
This is where the biggest change can occur. Fortunately, some production companies have started to implement sustainable initiatives for concertgoers. Evan says they’re working on choosing creative ways at his festival to promote sustainable and healthy relationships with our environment. He has hired a Director for Sustainability for Floof Festival and says: “An important thing is that the members of an entity create the values of the entity, especially the high up members.” This can come in many forms but they’ve landed on a Cigarette Butt Reward System in which attendees can get merch in exchange for cigarette butts as well as a +$3 tree planting program.
Learning about out of the box ways to help the environment might take a little more research and collaboration. “Working with the environment can also have a great effect on festival production,” says Molli, “A lot of festivals occur in or near smaller towns, that welcome the festival workers and attendees with open arms. It would be exciting to see festivals encouraging involvement with their local communities. Sourcing food from locals, working with locals before/after the event to ensure the land is restored to its original state, etc… In sustainability, it is important to think of more than just the environment. Sustainability deals with the environment, the economy, and the population. Paying attention to all three is important to truly make a difference.”
There are a few festivals whose sole objective is to encourage sustainability. Molli works an event in Costa Rica called Envision. “Throughout the duration of this event,” she explains, “there is a section right outside the festival where attendees walk to get to the beach. All of the locals are allowed to set up booths there and sell their art, food, and any other commodities they may specialize in. This generates some income for the local community. The festival also sources its food vendors locally. Those vendors go as far as serving all food on biodegradable “plates” (banana leaves, for example). This also extends to the workers at this event, who need to bring their own reusable plates, cups, utensils, etc. in order to eat at the commissary. “
Another event that does an amazing job at promoting sustainability is Form. This one holds dear to Molli’s heart. “Curated by Hundred Waters, this event is a prime example of an environmentally conscious event. Aside from the fact that it is located in an experimental urban community, built by the Italian architect Paolo Soleri, it is intentional, inclusive, and hyper aware. Their lineup is booked equally female as it is male, and a portion of the lineup is dedicated to panel discussions on health, the environment, and minorities, to name a few. This results in an incredibly specific crowd attending the event. People who stay after to help sort through trash, making sure it lands in the proper bins: trash, recycling, compost. The crowd that leaves no trace behind. It allows people to learn and educate others on matters they are involved with and care about. It occurs in a town called Arcosanti; a peaceful retreat away from city life. A place that demands respect from those who attend. Each individual encourages positive behavior which results in a beautiful harmony between the attendees and the surrounding environment.” Form is a unique culmination of sustainability and the music industry.
By breaking it down, you can better understand the many things you can do to encourage actions that will help our planet in the long and short term. No matter where you may be situated within music, you always have the potential to make a change when it comes to our environment.