Music festivals make plenty of green, but are they green enough? It’s no secret music festivals produce an alarming number of waste and carbon emissions. In the United States alone festival-goers produce 53,000 tons of waste each year. While the pandemic forced many cancellations and burned holes in pockets, there was a COVID-19 silver lining. 569,790,848 pounds of single-use products didn’t get used. Artists are taking note and planning for a greener return when touring music festivals and club shows.
BLOND:ISH and Camille Guitteau, the co-founder of her Bye Bye Plastic a sustainable non-profit, have launched Stay’ge Positive. The sustainability mentorship program aims to grow climate change awareness and action among artists. It will take place over a four-week period and will include classes both live and pre-recorded, allowing access for changemakers from around the world. Registration for the workshop has begun here.
The foundation’s female-powered team of music insiders creates sustainable movements geared toward the music industry. This includes the Eco-Rider, part of their #PlasticFreeParty pledge, which has been signed by over 1,500 DJs globally, and the Greener Sounds Workshop (now available to watch for free).
According to Billboard, 32 million people attend at least one music festival every year, which equates to ~ 2,891,648 lbs of single-use plastic waste (cups, straws, water bottles) for a single day.
The two founders shared perspectives about the sustainability climate within the music industry and present a solutions-based approach for how artists can each do their part to help protect the environment.
You’ve gone from starting your own non-profit Bye Bye Plastic to now running a full program for other artists who are as passionate about the environment as you are, but not as informed; what did it take for you to get to this point?
Thank you! In all truth, it takes a great team! None of this would be possible without Camille, the co-founder of Bye Bye Plastic. Like me, she feels the same need to make eco-conscious changes in the world and wants a sustainable, regenerative, and plastic-free music industry. But while I had the vision and the platform to share our mission, Camille had the knowledge and how-to.
To get here today, it took me a lot of awareness. I got to see and experience firsthand everything that was wrong with single-use plastic consumption in the music industry. I lived it. That’s what helped me get a clear vision on what needed to be done, where we fall short, and how to speed up the process, and that’s by supporting artists as we have more influence than we realize we do. So let’s use it. We’ll guide you!
“We need more accountability on the venue and promoter side because the responsibility for fulfilling the artists’ requests relies on the person advancing the rider. We are now working with agents to introduce Bye Bye Plastic and the Eco-Rider earlier in the booking process, so that the sustainability of the event is thought of ahead of time, instead of considered as an afterthought.”
It takes a village to keep it green and clean.
What is the process for implementing an Eco Rider? What still needs to be done for these to work?
We made it super easy for musicians or their management to get set up. You can download the Eco-Rider from our website, which you can easily add to your existing hospitality rider.
In order for these to work we need more accountability on the venue and promoter side, because the responsibility for fulfilling the artists’ requests relies on the person advancing the rider. We are now working with agents to introduce Bye Bye Plastic and the Eco-Rider earlier in the booking process, so that the sustainability of the event is thought of ahead of time, instead of considered as an afterthought.
Was the process of making the mentorship program Stay’ge Positive a result of being disturbed by how much trash is left behind at festivals?
Yes of course…stepping on a mountain of plastic on a dancefloor always triggers that. In all seriousness though, it really came from speaking to artists and having endless conversations backstage about the Eco-Rider. We started to understand artists’ needs and frustrations on the topic of sustainability and decided to turn those into actionable solutions!
We love being the bridge that connects our goals towards a sustainable dance floor and tricks to reach the most people we possibly can in as little time as possible, all while making it easy and accessible. We just want everyone to enjoy life and live in harmony with nature – that’s our version of a happy ending!
“Never assume that other people already know what you know and/or share your opinions. Information channels are very segmented today, so it’s easy to get lost in our own perception of the world.”
You don’t know what you don’t know. Share your knowledge with others.
What would you say is the most important thing you’ve learned since starting your journey as an Eco-Friendly Leader?
Such an interesting question! Personally, I’d say the most important thing I’ve learned is to never assume that other people already know what you know and/or share your opinions. Information channels are very segmented today, so it’s easy to get lost in our own perception of the world. I’m very passionate about plastic pollution reduction and circular design. I’m a bit of a nerd on the subject! So it’s easy for me to forget that a lot of people haven’t spent as much time as I have, harnessing awareness and knowledge about this passion of mine.
Do you have any tips for how to stay focused in an industry that still needs to put more effort into eco-conscious behavior?
One thing that is important for everyone: positives are hidden in the game of perspective. Yes, climate change is raging. Yes, the music industry, like any other industry, has its demons and challenges to solve, but none of it is unfixable. Think about it. It took less than a century to really mess our Earth up (± the industrial era, the 1950s). Now, look at all the progress our society has made, working together and aligning on ways to reverse our negative actions – huge investments in R&D for biotech, biomaterials, circular designs, higher levels of corporate investment, etc… This is actually unprecedented!
So how do we keep creating impactful changes? By continuing to look at the positives, and making continuous and collective efforts – accountability! That’s why we want to help more artists and DJs stimulate a global, planet-forward culture. By becoming creative climate leaders, they have a unique opportunity to help reach more people, our goal of a brighter future and a regenerative society. All wins!
The pandemic left a void for people to look at their carbon footprint, and an article from National Geographic highlighted how a plunge in carbon emissions from lockdowns will not slow climate change. So while we’ve seen a decrease in emissions as a result of the pandemic, where there normally would have been a full schedule of touring (and dancing), there’s still more to be done. How can festival organizers plan for better large-scale events without doing a major overhaul that might cost dollars they don’t have?
There definitely is a LOT more work to be done! The way we look at the pandemic at Bye Bye Plastic, is that it wasn’t so much of a break but more of a kick starter. It was time we needed to truly realize the extent of the damage, and the planet’s way of letting us know that “business as usual” is not an option anymore!
It was time we needed to truly realize the extent of the damage, and the planet’s way of letting us know that “business as usual” is not an option anymore!
There are two things organizers can implement easily:
First, planning! Designate a sustainability manager who can come up with a strategic plan of action, provide them with the tools and help needed from research and organizations like Bye Bye Plastic. Break down the changes you want to implement by order of importance, prioritize those and celebrate the small wins!
Secondly, get more involved and collaborate with industry organizations that are here just for that! For example, we are part of the AFEM Green Initiatives Group and lead the subgroup dedicated to increasing the use of sustainable riders in the industry. The goal is to make it a mainstream practice thanks to easy and standardized guidelines for everyone. By doing so, we are putting an emphasis on collective knowledge, and we all know that we are stronger and more powerful together!