Environmental Responsibility Within The Live Music Industry

Written by Jenna Dreisenstock

The music world sings with the beauty of an entity; an outlet of passion and expression that not only births creation, perspective and emotion – but builds entire communities of people, bringing all beings from different walks of life together, and painting a visceral experience of the internal and external interconnectedness music brings to our lives, and to others. The ways in which the music world brings people together is one of the most powerful forces on this Earth, and in that sense we hold in our palms a lot of power to make changes within our communities. The gathering together of fellow like-minded human beings and the sense of belonging that comes along with that is a feeling too complicated to describe, an inherent human need to feel as though we are a part of something bigger than ourselves, as well as the acceptance of others. When we bring these communities together however, perhaps for many of us we fail to keep in mind that outside of our music scenes, we are still a part of something bigger than ourselves – the environment, the very earth we live on.

With that being said, how many of us can remember the feelings of disgust running through us after an event or festival has ended and we look around only to see an area that, out of context, would look like an absolute garbage dump. With piles of broken bottles and glass scattered about aimlessly, seeping into the venue’s atmosphere, rubbish piles the size of small children: plastic bags and wrappers gliding through the air like sickened birds, trapped helplessly in tree branches – cracked and broken infrastructure, alcohol nourishing the earth like petrol. It’s almost as though during an event, we forget that outside ourselves exists the venues in which are the forefront of our live experiences; and looking around after enjoying that experience, it makes me wonder how much respect we are showing toward an environment which allows us such experiences – how much respect are we showing toward those who are tasked with the clean-up and how much respect are we at the same time showing our fellow communities?

Our eco-footprint as music lovers and event / festival goers is a subject that needs to be discussed and is beginning to be taken more seriously, however there are many changes we desperately need to make and that requires direct action on our part in order to truly show the respect and gratitude we have not only toward our communities but toward these events, our hard-worked infrastructure and most importantly the earth.

I am watching festivals continue to grow ‘greener’ as time evolves which is positive, yet the steps are too small for us to claim extensive action. In order to make these changes possible, our entire music communities need to get involved! From the organisers, to the artists and the event attendees it is imperative we band together to reduce our carbon footprint as well as show our gratitude toward those who aren’t a part of our specific scenes.

There are many ways in which we can implement these changes, and it all starts with information, understanding and perspective – combined with the willingness to make a change. The most obvious example perhaps of reducing our harm as event-goers and organisers can start with simple steps such as recycling, and proper waste management. I know, that seems pretty obvious right? However the images from my event experiences beg to differ – all I can see is piles and piles of those glass bottles stacked into black bins with no intent of being recycled, cigarette butts plaguing the floors, plastic cups and straws broken and discarded into bushes and flowers – with the plastic somehow finding its way into each nook and cranny. I find these three issues to be the main stressors when it comes to environmental destruction by music communities: there will always be people who are inconsiderate to those around them, including their environment – and it’s easy to get caught up in the party and forget where we left our empty drinks, or our food wrappers – to not even think about it at all, even by accident (aside from cigarette smokers who actively stomp out their cigarettes on the floor and leave them there…) However perhaps if ways to dispose of this waste was much more accessible to party-goers, we would find ourselves with less rubbish at the end of the day.

This can mean placing recycling bins in clear sight of attendees, in which throwing away a plastic wrapper is actually a quicker option than littering – spaces for smokers to easily and quickly dispose of their cigarette butts and of course, recycling bins safe for glass bottle and alcohol disposal. This does not mean the venue will look less appealing with more accessible bins – but rather, the opposite! By being strategically placed, this type of access can essentially allow people to reduce the amount of waste they are leaving behind without the need for active thought, allowing an overall more pleasant and cleaner experience for us all. This can also include providing disposable and biodegradable products at the festival, such as losing the plastic straws and cups, and replacing them with eco-friendly options that work in exactly the same manner but cause much less harm.

This also translates to the respect we have for those outside of our music communities – what of those who, after all of our fun, are left to toil away: cleaning up the mess we so inconsiderately left for them. There will always be a mess at the end of an event, but it’s important to keep in mind that those who are there to clean up at the end of the day are also taking direct action in keeping our music scenes alive as without them we wouldn’t have anywhere to go! Or anywhere we’d want to go, considering if what we’ve left behind continued to stick around…

In a continuation of focusing on how we as music communities have a responsibility to lower our carbon-footprint and respect those outside the music scenes, it’s important to take other factors into account. This all ties into various factors such as light and noise pollution, as well as food! What are the other actions we can take to reduce our carbon footprint? Perhaps it’s important to examine the amount of electricity and power being channeled into the event, what are the main sources of electricity and are we overusing it, keeping the power going in ways that are completely unnecessary? What of our actual, physical location – for example, are we being mindful of how the noise and chaos of a festival is affecting the surrounding environment and all it’s living creatures – and in that regard, how we can reduce any harmful effects on these beings? This also leads us into festival food and the carbon-footprint of that food: with animal agriculture being one of the largest sources of environmental destruction as is, we need to be mindful of how this consumption affects us not only within an event space but outside of the music scene. In which case, organisers should be heavily encouraged to focus on providing vegan catering to whatever the event may be.

At the end of the day, being a part of any music scene and attending events is a wonderful, exciting experience for all alike. The feeling of belonging, of admiration and inspiration: of emotion, and of course, fun – create experiences for us as human beings like no other. However we tend to get very caught up in ourselves, and our own experiences and sometimes that leaves us in a place of utter disregard for who and what surrounds us – and as such strong, bold communities, we definitely have the power, and the responsibility to make these changes that are needed for a better world.

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