It’s easy to feel a little hopeless when reading the newest Greenpeace report about plastics. (Greenpeace report on plastics 2022 available for download)
So little plastic is actually recycled – but the veneer of recycling allows the manufacturers to keep business as usual. There is a ton of public image management and greenwashing on their industry websites, like this laughable example.
But the music industry has been trying to change to meet the new reality of intense climate. Growing consumer intensity in demanding institutions, organizations, governments, and businesses make real and significant changes to their model might start having an impact.
What can happen for record companies?
Vinyl records’ resurgence delighted music lovers. But vinyl records, made up of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) use more than twice the plastic of cd manufacturing. (Streaming is not carbon neutral, but that is another article.) Possibly good news on the horizon though.
Evolution Music UK has developed a bioplastic LP. They write
Our initial flagship product is the bioplastic LP – available from the second half of 2022 – using circular economy principles to replace the harmful production and use of single use plastics and minimise waste in the music industry. We make it easy for labels and artists to make the change by producing bioplastic LPs (instead of PVC) using the record pressing plants’ existing machinery and production processes.
They are currently seeking artists interested in working together on reducing plastic use. Electronic duo Bicep were on Evolution Music’s debut LP.
Green Vinyl Records is a Dutch company with a similar mission, to use less harmful ways to produce LPs, from the materials to the process to the distribution.
How can live events be better?
Festivals and live music events have started reducing or replacing consumer plastics at their events. The Gasparilla Music Festival has long used boxed water or refillable bottles. Businesses like Clean Vibes help festivals figure out how to be greener. Nonprofits like REVERB advise artists and companies on greener practices at every step.
Water bottles and plastic cups/cutlery are two big issues at live events. Live Nation, one of the biggest event groups, has pledged to use reusable cups. Festival wristbands are being made with bamboo or wonderful biodegradable bands with seeds! Now if we can get someone to change the lanyards into something sustainably made.
What can artists and fans do?
Musicians make a good chunk of their income selling swag. Looking for products that avoid virgin plastic and plastic entirely is a start. Instead of using plastic packaging, there are companies like Paperfoam that use biobased products. Unfortunately, the high price of recycled plastic clothing make them unlikely contenders for tour shirts. Thinking smaller helps right now, though hopefully that will change.
Why not try compostable guitar picks? Or wooden ones? There are also headphones, speakers, and turntables made without any plastic, from The House of Marley (yes, they collaborate with Bob Marley’s family).
Instead of being freaked out about all the plastic (though we urge you to look at Greenpeace’s report, there are steps you can take. Large scale plastic challenges, like National Geographic’s Innovation Challenge/Ocean Plastics, can move industries forward.
There are educational challenges created for students at all school levels, like Practical Action’s plastic challenge. These can be adapted to various programs. Check out our Green Resources page to see many of the ways you and the music industry can be more sustainable. Challenge yourself to limit single use plastics to only a few every month. The Marine Conservation Society has some helpful tips. Every bit helps.