Plastic whether we know it or not, is everywhere.
It resides in the $4 takeaway latte’s we buy every morning, the cars that we drive to work throughout the week and the cigarettes that we smoke on weekends to say goodbye to all the stress. Unfortunately for Earth the material takes up to 400 years to degrade and with a 379 million tonne increase in plastic production since the 1950’s, the flood gates are bursting open.
Scientists at National Geographic have calculated that a distressing 91% of the 8.3 billion metric tons of existing plastic are NOT being recycled. Plastic not salvaged either ends up as landfill, or if not contained is prone to blow away into rivers and natural water sources where the material is swept out into the ocean. Problems arising from plastic bags, toothpaste canisters and plastic straws are well documented, however the ingestion of microplastics is also a real threat to the natural food chain. Microplastics are 5mm in total size or less and are produced by the break down of floating plastic in waterways being exposed to constant sunlight. The danger here is that smaller marine life consumes these micro substances, then is eaten by wildlife higher up in the food chain – harbouring an endless cycle of consumption. There are plenty of reported cases around the globe where fisherman and even chefs are finding seafood containing microplastics.
So the most important question here is… how do we combat the problem?
The music community is currently working on mending the issue and is driving a positive shift towards a plastic free industry. With a history of major festivals like Woodstock, Glastonbury and Splendour In The Grass being completely littered with single use plastic long after fans and musicians have left their venues – the people have had enough and are now initiating various movements around the world to put an end to plastic pollution.
One of them is BYOBottle, a worldwide organisation launched in April this year by the likes of Jack Johnson and Green Music Australia and is tackling the issue with full force by creating an easy step guide for everyone involved in the music industry. With a powerful social media presence and a backing from various other Australian artists such as Alex The Astronaut, Ball Park Music, DZ Deathrays, Flume, Gretta Ray, Hermitude, Missy Higgins, Paul Kelly, Sahara Beck, Tia Gostelow and many more it’s an exciting initiative that everyone should be keen to take part in!
Artists, Venues and Fans are the 3 biggest demographics in music and all have a part to play in creating a sustainable industry. It’s really not a huge ask to adopt a few environmentally friendly solutions into you’re own lifestyle!
So to help here’s some examples of what you can do to reduce plastic pollution whether you’re an artist, venue/festival or fan in the music industry:
As an artist you have the unique opportunity to influence a wide audience of people by taking part in the BYOBottle movement. You’re actions speak louder than words and there are a variety of ways that you can partake in cultivating a plastic free music industry. First and foremost it’s important to educate you’re bandmates and crew staff with real world knowledge and equip them with reusable water bottles – if you’ve got a supportive team on board it makes it a lot easier in the long run.
*Also if you’ve got your own tour bus it doesn’t hurt to have a refill station on board either*.
Driving the standards of the venues that you play at is important too. Don’t be afraid to organise backstage refill stations or dispensers that you and your crew can access, and if the venue allows give that power back to your fans by encouraging them to bring their own reusable water bottles to your events (a few social media posts can never hurt in this regard).
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There’s also no better way to advocate against plastic pollution then arming fans with your own brand of reusable water bottles! Australian musician Ash Grunwald pioneered merchandising reusables back in 2015 where all he needed was a few Facebook posts and a Bandcamp Page to have them “selling like hotcakes“. The organisation he used to supply the merch, Earth Bottles, runs a fantastic website that you should definitely get in contact with if you need a reliable supplier. Regarding promotion, Instagram has an awesome and intuitive feature where you can tag the items you want to sell on your latest posts. The tag link will direct your followers to the checkout on your website making it super easy for your fans to access!
2. Venues & Festivals
Fortunately for the past half decade an abundance of venues, shows and festivals have been taking initiative on the way plastic is used and discarded in their time slots. Back in 2013, the Caloundra Music Festival became the first in the world in to completely ban plastic water bottles. The key was that they made it obvious to fans as soon as they bought their tickets and had clear communication with the festival groundskeepers, local plumbers and operators. It was a complete success having 97% of fans surveyed after the big day respond that they enjoyed taking part in the experience!
More recently smaller venues have been getting involved as well with Max Watts‘ mission to “divert thousands of plastic bottles from landfill” a perfect example. In a collaboration with Green Music Australia in 2018, the venue created a plastic management plan where reusable water bottles with name tags were placed in key locations around the venue to supply water for all artists, staff and security. As a result, they cut down significantly on the amount of plastic they were sending to landfills and the amount of plastic water bottles they were purchasing. If anything it proves that being more conscious of your plastic consumption and pollution can help save the environment and lower company costs all at the same time (something every business owner should be interested in).
Overall, communication is an integral part of the process and will ultimately make or break the creation of a successful plastic free event. Providing refill stations both backstage and front of house encourages fans and artists to bring in their own reusable water bottles. Outfitting your staff with their very own company branded renewable bottles also sends a powerful message to the community and sets a great example from the top down. The banning of microplastics like glitter that are used in confetti shows should also be considered – with 60+ UK Music Festivals banning the material in 2018 there’s no excuse not to follow other initiatives around the globe!
If you’ve always thought you’d like to start your own music festival but don’t know how to get there – here are 6 Real World Tips to Successfully Start Your Own Music Festival.
Fans are ultimately the biggest living and breathing force in the music industry, but we’re also the greatest contributor of plastic waste and pollution. We are responsible for driving the standards of how we want our events to be run and how we want our artists to conduct themselves.
As fans the only tangible way to create change is to walk the walk. Join the BYOBottle movement, buy and use your own reusable water bottle, choose not to wear glitter, don’t be lazy and actively dispose of your waste, share your support and beliefs on social media and most importantly spread and create awareness of the issues at hand. Actually be proactive and do something about it – it’s the small habits that we change now which ultimately have the biggest impact on our future!
At the end of the day it’s a 3 way street where all musicians, events and music lovers need to team up if we are to make a significant change to the environment we are leaving in the hands of future generations.
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