05.06.2019

How music organisations are fighting for a greener live music scene

Words by Kate Streader

Wednesday June 5 is World Environment Day and despite the recent re-election of the Liberal party, who have made it abundantly clear they will continue to neglect the urgent climate crisis, there are many Australian organisations dedicated to reducing emissions and combating waste.

Over the past few years, there has been a palpable shift in the live music industry, prompting a step away from the unsustainable practices that go hand in hand with live events. Considering our government isn’t committed to climate action despite the current environmental crisis, it’s crucial that individuals and organisations take action. There is a long way to go and it’ll take event organisers and attendees working together to make an impact. In any case, here are some of the organisations working hard to get the ball rolling in creating a greener future for Australia’s live music industry.

Green Music Australia

Green Music Australia is a not-for-profit organisation working towards a complete industry overhaul that will see live music venues and recording studios powered by solar. Artists would also sell organic, plastic-free and Fairtrade merchandise, and single-use plastic water bottles would be kept out of music festivals. Established in 2013, GMA has accrued a long list of supporters, including the likes of Paul Kelly, Missy Higgins, Bernard Fanning and Killing Heidi. According to their 2018 Annual Report, the use of 1 million plastic cups and bottles was avoided last year as a result of 32 festivals joining GMA’s #BYObottle campaign, including BigSound, Bluesfest, Splendour in the Grass and Party in the Paddock.

FEAT. (Future Energy Artists)

FEAT. (Future Energy Artists) is a world-first movement that invests in solar farms in partnership with Australia’s first fossil-free superannuation fund, Future Super. The initiative was established by Cloud Control and lead by an array of artists in a bid to reduce the carbon footprint attached touring. The slate of artists on board with FEAT. includes Midnight Oil, Jack River, Peking Duck, The Rubens, Vance Joy and Regurgitator, to name a few. FEAT. worked with carbon analysts to crunch the numbers on the emissions which result from the average tour and found a single band touring just one country produces the equivalent of a typical household’s yearly emissions. FEAT. looks to offset these emissions by investing in solar farms, the first of which is an 80-hectare project in Queensland.

Splendour in the Grass

Splendour in the Grass has long championed sustainability and continues to set a standard for eco-friendly practices in the live music scene. When buying your tickets, SITG offers a Green Offset option which, in partnership with Enova Energy and COREM, helps fund innovative climate initiatives. The festival has a long history of pushing punters to think green through programs such as its tree planting initiative. Troupes of Eco Cops and Waste Warriors also visit campsites throughout the festival to lend some green tips and ensure festivalgoers are doing their part. SITG also offers award-winning waterless composting toilets and, looking forward, will begin to rule out single-use plastics by encouraging attendees to bring their own water bottles and cups.

Yours & Owls

Last year, Yours & Owls partnered with local groups Plastic Free Wollongong and Blue Citizen in a push towards more sustainable frameworks for festivals. The initiative saw Yours & Owls swapping plastic water bottles, straws, cutlery and takeaway food containers with reusable and compostable alternatives in hope of keeping 150,000 plastic items from ending up in landfill. Festival organisers introduced a tree-planting initiative which planted 500 native species to aid bush regeneration and encouraged people to get involved by offering free tickets to the festival. Though Yours & Owls are yet to confirm whether this year will follow suit, the success of 2018’s green initiatives suggests we can expect another eco-friendly year at Yours & Owls.

WOMADelaide

WOMADelaide has been working to create an environmentally friendly festival for several years now, first establishing the use of compostable cups in all its bars in 2014. WOMADelaide currently keeps 98 per cent of waste out of landfill by focusing on compostable options, though the event organisers are still looking to do more. Last year, the festival moved to reusable cups and bottles in a shift towards a waste-free festival. In 2019, WOMADelaide will trial alternatives to disposable cable ties and is dedicated to investing in over 3,000 re-usable ties. A collaboration with Greening Australia also sees WOMADelaide contributing $2 from every ticket sold to native tree plantings.