The future is green, so is the music

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Everything is going green, and I'm not talking about gardens and lawns. I'm talking about houses made of Styrofoam, Lollapalooza offering carbon offsets, bands donating part of their T-shirt sales to charity or even making the T-shirts out of recycled materials.

Even the big red tent is going green and trying to save the environment. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey show donates a portion of each ticket sale to its save-the-elephant organization in Florida. The circus established the Center for Elephant Conservation to fund conservation research, study reproduction and as a retirement facility for the Asian elephants that have become such a staple in our circus experience.

Pearl Jam — a band that has never shied away from making a statement — purportedly made its 2002-2003 tour carbon neutral and has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to climate change and renewable energy organizations. The rock legends have traveled in a biodiesel tour bus since 2005.

They have spent their careers influencing music and have spent the past few years encouraging musicians to go green. Guitarist Stone Gossard helped plant vegetation in a Seattle park taken over by English ivy, helping earn the band the No. 6 spot on MSNBC's top 10 music acts going green.

Jack Johnson earned MSNBC's top spot. The surfer-turned-barefoot rocker insulated his Los Angeles recording studio with used denim and powers it in part by solar panels. Venues on his 2008 tour must meet his guidelines for cutting waste and recycling — though no one says exactly what those are.

Other big names on the list were Willie Nelson at No. 2 and Dave Matthews Band in the No. 4 slot. Dave and his band have added up the entire carbon footprint left by each venue, hotel, flight, tour vehicle and even fan travel for the summer tour.

I thought these artists were creative onstage, but the lengths to which some have gone to help the environment are impressive.

Missouri native Sheryl Crow, on a biodiesel bus of her own, made a documentary about global warming and has spoken to dozens of colleges about living green.

Take a lesson from the stars and give a little. Going to a Dave Matthews concert? Sign up for a car pool online. Reverb, a not-for-profit environmental organization has helped several musical acts clean up their act. You can learn more about their band partners and the Reverb Fan Carbon Offset Program online at

Carpool to a concert. Toss your bottles into the blue bin for recycling. Throw that paper plate in the can, not the bushes.

After all, a change will do you good.

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