These eco friendly musicians are absolute rock stars – in more ways than one!
By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
The truth is, musicians have a lot of influence over us, especially young people. So what they believe, say and do is important.
It’s unfortunate that more and more pop stars are turning to the ‘dark side.’ That is to say, they’re glorifying gangster violence, female exploitation, and are taking clear stances in party politics that only serve to fuel division and even hatred.
On the other hand, there are, happily, a few musicians who are quietly making a difference by not wagging a finger at others and telling them what to do, or by recording songs that ‘diss’ others they don’t agree with, but by taking direct action. They’re reducing the CO2 emissions of their concerts; they’re donating to green causes, and they’re going vegan, for example.
Yep, it seems like there are many great musicians who believe “The Earth has music for those who listen,” as the American philosopher, poet, literary and cultural critic George Santayana once said.
Wondering who’s doing what? Check out our short list of eco friendly musicians we love.
All images: Wikicommons
Eco Friendly Musicians We Love
The rocking singer has a rocking body. Why? She is vegan! In 2012 Pink divulged to Shape magazine how she dropped over 55 pounds to get back in shape: her diet was composed of mainly quinoa, fresh veggies, superfood shakes, super shots, and wellness shots. Since then Pink also makes sure her daughter and husband, Carey Hart, eat healthfully–she even got a vegan carrot cake, for Willow’s first birthday.
But that’s not where Pink’s eco-commitments stop. As well as being fond of the flora, protects the fauna. She is an avid supporter of PETA and has spoken out against sheep cruelty and Australia’s wool industry. She’s also backed the animal rights group in its stance against horse-drawn carriages. Pink is truly a role model for those looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle and those looking to protect animals everywhere.
In the spring of 2010, Drake embarked on his first-ever tour as a headliner in association with Reverb’s Campus Consciousness Tour, which began with Guster in 2006. The CCT works to link artists with environmental student groups at schools across the country to raise awareness through literature and activities in tents on the concert grounds, like eco-friendly screen printing from Studio 3, an organic textile company. The ‘Take Care’ rapper is certainly trying to ‘take care’ of the planet by helping to educate the public about environmental issues!
3. Maroon 5
The popular quintet helped develop the Green Music Project. Not sure what that is? According to the Green Music Project’s official website, Maroon 5 have hosted more than 60 non-profit organisations in Reverb’s Eco-Village, fuelled their buses with 18,000 gallons of biodiesel, reduced the carbon footprint of their tours, and have offset hundreds of thousands of pounds of CO2.
The group is also very outspoken about the benefits and potential of using solar energy. No wonder they were honoured in 2006 at the Environmental Media Awards for all their efforts.
3. The Roots
What’s in a name? The band named themselves after a part of a plant to attest their homage of the origins of life. The group has worked with PETA on the Stop the Violince: Go Veg ad (spelling error intentional), and these eco-conscious musicians hosted a Pre-Grammy Jam & Green Carpet Bash, inviting artists to jam to raise awareness about green issues, and to spread the green love.
4. John Legend
Legend partnered with Jason Marz in 2009 for a super-green tour that included an investment in wind farms to offset the carbon footprint from the tour.
But that’s not all! Prior to that, in 2007, Legend was already committed to saving the planet when he launched his Show Me Campaign to provide clean water and agricultural tools for poverty-stricken residents of Mbola in Tanzania. The musician has also rubbed shoulders with a former President of the United States: he was invited to perform at the Green Inaugural Ball, an event celebrating President Obama’s focus on sustainable energy.
5. Bruno Mars
Mars, one of the most famous singers on our list, is also one of the most eco friendly musicians. He has long been a strong supporter of The Rainforest Foundation. Furthermore, during a charity event in New Orleans Bruno performed a cover of James Brown’s “Get Up (I Feel Like Being) a Sex Machine” with Brad Pitt for the Make It Right Foundation, which provides affordable and eco-friendly housing for people in need.
But the Hawaiian singer-producer has always had eco-friendliness running through the family. His older sister, Jamie Kailani Hernandez Bayot, is a talented artist who spent years as a professional model, actress, and jewellery designer. Most importantly she is the founder of the organisation Mothers About Making Amends (M.A.M.A. Earth), which encourages people to use organic and environmentally friendly goods and services while celebrating the arts. Needless to say, Grammy-award winning Bruno is thoroughly involved with his sister’s project, too.
6. Pearl Jam
The old-school grunge band from Seattle has donated $100,000 to nine organisations working on climate change, renewable energy and similar causes. In 2006 they gave $50,000 to help fund the preservation of a Madagascan rainforest that would have been cut down otherwise.
They have also adopted an educational approach towards their fans, to help spread eco-awareness: members of Pearl Jam’s official fan community, the Ten Club, don’t just get T-shirts, posters and CDs when they order merchandise; they get a physical representation of the band’s dedication to sustainability. To clarify: from 1990 they teamed up with UPS for a total makeover of its merchandise distribution process, including time-saving shipment consolidation and the use of local and eco-friendly materials. UPS provides 100 percent recyclable boxes with tape-free enclosures and soy-based ink, boxes are also printed with the carbon neutral shipping insignia, signifying the purchase of carbon offsets to balance out emissions produced in the transportation of the mail-outs.
7. Perry Farrell
The Jane’s Addiction frontman and Lollapalooza founder reduced the carbon footprint of his once-annual summer festival by ending its life as a traveling show and transforming it to a destination weekend in Chicago’s Grant Park.
He also still works to assure it’s beneficial to the community. He marks the grounds with an abundance of recycling bins and donates hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to the city’s park projects. Interactive tents work to educate fans in the Causapalooza section of the musical playground. Moreover, all paper products used on the site must be recycled.
On his own, Farrell uses eco-safe packaging for his music and aims to release new material only digitally. He also plants trees to keep his tours carbon-neutral. Together with The Doors drummer John Densmore and actor Josh Hartnett, Farrell launched the Global Cool climate change campaign to encourage the reduction of carbon emissions.
8. Barenaked Ladies
With the help of Guster and Reverb, Canadian band Barenaked Ladies in 2004 hopped on the eco-friendly bandwagon by greening their tours. The “Big Bang” theme song creators welcomed Reverb’s greening coordinators onto their tour crew, not only to ensure a good supply of organic food backstage and biodegradable supplies, but also to assist in dealing with less obvious moments of musical waste. For example: collecting broken guitar strings that could become recycled jewellery.
Clean-burning biodiesel fuel, from fat or vegetable oil, powered the Ladies’ travel, and informational Eco-Villages called Barenaked Planet were set up at live shows. The band even played a global warning awareness video as an opening act and their CDs are sold in 100% recyclable cases.
9. KT Tunstall
Scottish singer KT Tunstall joined Guster back in 2007 at the 14th annual EarthFest show in Boston, to support environmentalist music, but it was far from her first foray into green causes. Back in 2004, when she had her platinum debut album, Eye to the Telescope, Tunstall has worked to neutralise her carbon production by planting more than 1,500 trees in Scotland and continuing to donate to renewable energy causes in Sri Lanka.
Working with the Carbon Neutral Company, which provides estimates in usage and reduction, Tunstall tallies everything from the electricity used in the studio to the fuel used to tour. She also worked with TreeHugger to promote climate change awareness through music and fashion at the 2010 Shift Festival, and lives in a completely environmentally friendly house herself.
10. Pharrell Williams
The Happy singer makes us very happy with his eco-efforts! In fact, he may well be one of the most eco friendly musicians on our list.
The multitalented, multitasking eco friendly musician/designer/producer/entrepreneur/ became Creative Director of Bionic Yarn in 2009. The ‘yarn’ is based on plastic pollution salvaged from the oceans and recycled into textiles. The concept is part of the Vortex Project, an initiative by Parley for the Oceans in collaboration with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to help rid the oceans of plastic and put it to good use.
Since its founding in 2013, a variety of environmentalists, scientists, artists, entrepreneurs, creative companies and NGOs have joined Vortex. Today the advisory board includes Plastic Pollution Coalition, Ocean Alliance, Mare, Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, and the Alba Group.
G-Star, the Gap and Topshop are just a few of the clothing companies that have used eco-friendly threads produced by the Bionic Yarn. It seems anything this singer touches turns into ‘green’ gold!
He may come across as a tough guy, but Slash from Guns N’ Roses is actually a big softie when it comes to wildlife. Not only does he sit on the board of the Los Angeles Zoo (!), but he, along with the father of the late Steve Irwin, launched the Bob Irwin Wildlife & Conservation Foundation, which focuses on education, animal support and advocacy for Australian wildlife.
12. Paul McCartney
No list of eco friendly musicians would be complete without a nod to the ex-Beatle. His adamant vegetarianism is shared throughout his entire (rather famous) family. Paul helped launch Meatless Mondays, along with his daughter Stella, which encourages even non-vegetarians to shun meat for one day a week. Animal farming has a huge impact on the environment, and going meatless even one day a week makes a huge difference. He is also a big supporter of PETA, and animal rights in general. For example, he once travelled to Canada with his ex-wife, Heather Mills, to draw attention to the issue of culling of baby seals.
13. Russell Simmons
Eco-consciousness is a perfect fit for this hip hop icon’s lifestyle. Simmons if fully devoted to living a life of spirituality and eco-friendliness. He practices yoga every day, is a vegetarian, and donates both time and money to myriad environmental causes, including PETA.
14. Wyclef Jean
The Fugee-turned-politician has partnered with Justin Timberlake to design some eco-friendly footwear. All proceeds from the shoes were donated to his Yele Haiti Foundation, which aims to rebuild the broken nation. He is also a strong advocate of organic and sustainable agriculture, and has visited farmers in Haiti to promote these practices.
His extravagant lifestyle is a bit at odds with tracks like “Take our Planet Back”, which goes: “If we’re so technological, why are we still burning oil/ ‘Cause I got a car you plug into the wall that’s faster than a GTO/ We shot for the stars, put rovers on Mars, make planes like UFOs/ So why are we borrowin’ money to make planes like UFOs/ So why are we borrowin’ money from China to buy oil from the Gulf and destroyin’ the world?” It’s all fine and well to spread the word, Will.i.am, but walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk! Still, with the number of fans he’s amassed, spreading the message should have some kind of positive impact.