Environmental sustainability shares the stage with musicians


Lindsay Benza '23

Musicians address environmental issues by making sustainable alterations to concerts.

With concerts attracting large crowds of people around the globe, environmental issues arise due to waste and carbon emissions.  Artists such as Coldplay, Mr. Harry Styles, and Mr. Jack Johnson are taking the initiative to create engaging shows for fans while also focusing on environmental sustainability.

Mr. Matthew Blake, Sustainability Coordinator and Upper School Theology and English Teacher, shares the importance of environmental sustainability.  He explains the impacts of climate change on the world if environmentalism is not pursued.

“We need to avoid a reality in which our planet increases in temperature by more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels,” Mr. Blake said.  “If this occurs, the world would experience a plethora of disastrous environmental consequences.  Sea levels would rise by a meter or more, intense wildfires would rage around the world, and the weather would become more unpredictable and more intense.  Climate change is already here even though we’re still working to avoid that 2-degree Celsius increase.”

Coldplay performs for fans at MetLife stadium.  Lindsay Benza ’23

Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres Tour aims to lower carbon emissions by 50 percent.  Rather than using fossil fuels, the concerts use solar and kinetic energy to power the lights and other features in the show.  While solar energy receives its power from nature, concert attendees produce kinetic energy.  Fans have the opportunity to utilize stationary bikes and dance floors throughout the venues.  When people pedal and jump on the dance floor, the kinetic energy charges the reusable batteries, according to coldplay.com.

The band teamed up with Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) to create reusable and rechargeable batteries.  Instead of using fossil fuels, Neste, an oil refining and marketing company, supplies biofuels for the show’s transportation.

Inevitably, the band and its equipment need to fly from one location to the next.  As they will often utilize commercial flights, Coldplay is transparent about occasionally needing to charter a plane.  Coldplay utilizes Sustainable Aviation Fuel when flying, which costs a surcharge, according to coldplay.com.  Algae, agricultural residues, oil seeds, and wet wastes are examples of materials that create Sustainable Aviation Fuel, according to energy.gov. 

The band’s stage is made of recycled steel so it is reusable for future usage.  In addition to the sustainability of the stage, Coldplay uses biodegradable confetti during their performance as well as LED wristbands composed of plant-based matter, according to coldplay.com.  Mr. Chris Martin, the lead singer of Coldplay, expresses his gratitude for the opportunity to implement these changes on the band’s world tour.

“We are very blessed that we have the resources to be able to do it because it’s very expensive to try these things for the first time,” Mr. Chris Martin said, according to The Washington Post “We’re so privileged that we’re in a position where we can change.”

Mr. Johnson is also taking strides toward environmentally friendly concerts.  On his tour, he donates two dollars from each ticket purchased to nonprofit organizations aiming to resolve climate change, according to The Washington Post.  Mr. Johnson partnered with REVERB, a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainability within the music industry, to make his tour, Meet the Moonlight, green.  The goals for Mr. Johnson’s tour are to recycle and compost to prevent waste, utilize environmentally friendly transportation, and serve locally grown food from farmers near venues, according to reverb.org.

Mr. Johnson works with REVERB to make his concerts eco-friendly.  Courtesy of reverb.org

Mr. Harry Styles also teamed up with REVERB for his world tour, Love On Tour.  In his partnership with the organization, he was able to minimize the waste by selling reusable water bottles and installing water fountains around venues.  Over 4,000 fans utilized these water refilling stations, and 8,108 people bought the reusable water bottles, according to reverb.org.  The proceeds of the water bottles benefit other environmentally sustainable causes.

Mr. Blake comments that fans should also be responsible for making environmentally friendly choices when attending concerts.  He shares that environmentalism and entertainment are not antagonistic.

“You can have fun at a concert and do so in a sustainable fashion,” Mr. Blake said.  “Fans can think about transportation.  They can think about carpooling, they can think about actually placing products consumed during the event in the correct receptacle if there is such.  If you’re eating before a concert or event, you might try to find a restaurant that sources food locally.”

Mr. Blake echoes Pope Francis regarding the significance of sustainability.  He believes if more entertainers and venues continue to prioritize the environment, the world will see the effects.

“As Pope Francis said in Laudato si’, environmentalism is no longer optional and so large events like concerts should be thinking environmentally,” Mr. Blake said.  “I think that we really need this huge shift in imagination from thinking about sustainability as something like a secondary concern.  I think the more venues and event planners think about the environment, the more positive impact we will have.”

Featured Image by Lindsay Benza ’23