Guest Post: A Gen Z Perspective On Sustainable Touring
Guest Post by Eleanor Anderson
Eleanor Anderson has degrees in Economics and Psychology from the University of Chicago, and through her knowledge of behavioral economics and choice architecture techniques she hopes to drive substantive changes in current environmental practices. She currently works in sustainable energy and is a member of the steering committee for Music Sustainability Association (MSA).
My generation lives and breathes music. We constantly have our earbuds in – checking out TikTok musicians, listening to new tracks, playing the same song on repeat. Of course, this isn’t necessarily something new. Whether you are a “boomer,” a “millennial,” or a “zoomer,” music has been and always will be a crucial part of life.
That’s the thing about music. It’s at the crux of our society: it feeds our souls, it parallels our culture, and it creates a sense of community. That’s why concerts are so incredibly important. Nothing can compare to the feeling of standing with tens or even hundreds of thousands of people, swaying to the beat as we all get lost in the music.
What’s different about my generation is that we feel more strongly about climate change, a trend that will likely continue with each subsequent generation. This is because as climate change continues to progress, new generations will experience more firsthand accounts of its devastating effects. To put it simply, the reason why my generation is passionate about climate change is because it has always been a salient feature in our lives. We have never not lived in a world of polluted cities, fire seasons, floods, and late spring snowfalls.
So how exactly does the music industry fit into this trend toward climate awareness? As I mentioned earlier, music is intrinsically tied to our culture. This means that musicians can affect our actions and what we believe, and on the flip side that the current culture and climate of our world can also impact a musician’s work. So, as more zoomers start to attend concerts and take center stage, there will be a call for sustainable touring practices. Soon musicians and fans alike will demand more from our sustainability practices, and sustainable tours (e.g., Coldplay, Jack Johnson) will become the norm, not the exception.
So as an industry, what can we do? Because fans and artists will both start to request sustainable practices, it is important to adequately prepare for this change. In short, we get ahead of the curve so that we don’t get left behind. To do this, start the process now and get acclimated to the general feel and flow of sustainable touring. This will help ease the transition as sustainable practices become a more dominant feature in our industry. For now, these changes don’t have to be difficult to implement. After all, starting small is a step in the right direction! Ask your venues for shore power plug-ins to reduce idling. Have recycling, trash, and compost bins readily available. See if you can provide discounted public transit to and from the venue. And if you feel overwhelmed, reach out for help (try Music Sustainability Association for the U.S. and LIVE Green for EU/UK). These small changes are easy to implement now and will take us those important first steps toward what will become the new paradigm for the concert industry.
For those of you ready to set an example – there are plenty of options to be greener: Eliminate single-use waste items both backstage and in concessions. Measure your energy consumption to reduce the number of generators procured. Stipulate in your contracts that the venue must provide sustainably sourced shore power. Build sets from non-virgin materials. Have the trucks collect solar power during transport. The list goes on and on. There are so many ways for us to reduce our carbon footprint, all it takes is a little creativity and some hard work.
Whether we like it or not, the world is working to become sustainable. Attitudes are shifting, climate change is progressing, and my generation is watching and expecting change. So regardless if we take small steps now, or large steps later, our industry will come together to create the world of sustainable touring.