Green Rockers: Music Artists Support Sustainable Causes

Music tours require a lot of energy. Boarding planes, transporting equipment, lighting stage sets, making use of large venues, and other factors emit a large amount of carbon, resulting in a large environmental footprint.

Aneil Lutchman.

Artists, however, tend to consider their actions on a general scale. Therefore, several major musical acts took further action to remedy the negative consequences of touring. In turn, these musicians have taken a leading role in driving progressive efforts and positive energy to live a life conscious of humanity’s impact on Earth.


Drake performing on the Summer Sixteen Tour in Toronto in 2016.
Show Come on.

When it comes to offsetting its carbon footprint, Champagne Papi doesn’t mess around. Drake has implemented eco-friendly changes to his tour, which include selling merchandise made from sustainable materials, increasing his supply of biodegradable catering, and running his tour buses on biodiesel.

Drake has also asked eco-conscious startup Aspiration to scale back and balance its lifestyle, which includes a 50,000-square-foot home and private jet. According to Rolling Stone, the rapper joins celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Downey Jr., and Orlando Bloom in investing in Aspiration, but Drake’s partnership goes deeper than buying his way.

Aspiration asserts itself as a sustainable alternative to competing banks and fintech companies because it does not invest in fossil fuel companies or other non-sustainable ventures. In addition to financial services, customers can track their carbon footprint and use a portion of their spending on tree planting and charitable donations.

“The aspirational innovative approach to fighting climate change is inspiring and I hope that together we can help motivate and create awareness,” Drake said last June.


The 1975 perform in Nottingham, England in 2020.

British pop rock band (and friends of Greta Thurnberg), The 1975 teamed up with the non-profit organization Reverb to help create a 2020 Green tour that tackles environmental and social issues. The band’s July 11 2020 show at Finsbury Park, north London is notable for its emphasis on sustainability.

Organizers said it was the first time in UK history that traceable and sustainably sourced hydrotreated vegetable oil supported the entire event. HVO is a renewable diesel produced from European vegetable fats and oils, which reduces the show’s carbon footprint. The concert was also Finsbury Park’s first paperless show, with all tickets available digitally only.

Additionally, The 1975’s sound is supplied by a hybrid-powered generator with a solar array, and food vendors operate a traffic light system that alerts concertgoers of each meal’s carbon footprint. Concert promoter, Festival Republic, planted 1,975 trees in the area surrounding the show through a partnership with Trees for Cities. The band has pledged to plant a tree worldwide for every ticket sold through the One Tree Planted initiative.

Perry Farrell

Lollapalooze with Chicago Skyline in the background.

Since its inception in 1991, Perry Farrell’s traveling Lollapalooza festival has provided a platform for various environmental causes. Starting out as a multi-city event with multiple bands joining Jane’s Addiction’s farewell tour, Lollapalooza was turned into an annual event at Chicago’s Grant Park in 2005.

(‘Lollapalooza’ is an ancient word meaning incredibly impressive. Farrell claims he chose the festival’s name after he heard it used in the film Three Stooges.)

Since then, the rocker has donated a portion of the weekend festival proceeds to a city park project.

“Having a party, and then not leaving a carbon footprint; letting it really be enhanced and embellished,” says Farrell, “is what Grant Park dreamed of and it sure is.”


The Roots performed at The House of Blues, Orlando, in 2016.
Michael Seeley.

The Roots takes a collaborative approach to sustainability. In addition to partnering with organizations such as PETA and the Common Ground Foundation, Roots played the Earth Day Climate Rally in Washington, DC, and hosted the Pre-Grammy Jam & Green Carpet Bash in 2007. The party aims to raise awareness about environmental issues. and even provide autographed compost.

While hip-hop stars worked to neutralize their C02 emissions while touring, they also teamed up with the environmental nonprofit Reverb to found the Green Music Group. Together with artists such as Maroon 5, Sheryl Crow, and Willie Nelson of country music, the organization aims to facilitate a large-scale greening of the music community as a whole.

Dave Matthews Band

The Dave Matthews Band performed live in Melbourne in 2005.

Dave Matthews’ Bama Green Project — a spin-off of the charitable organization Bama Works Fund — is another Reverb ally, educating fans around the world on how to take simple, positive steps to protect the planet. Matthew practices what he preaches, relying on biodiesel-fueled tour buses, reducing waste when traveling, and eating local at tourist destinations. Through these efforts, Matthews and the band have managed to neutralize the carbon footprint of his entire touring career.

radio head

Radiohead performed in New Jersey during the 2012 'King of Limbs' tour.

Best known for their quirky voices and heady lyrics, Radiohead are as dedicated to the environment as they are to unconventional new songs.

Led by singer Thom Yorke, Radiohead has been touring continuously since 2008 with the launch of the “Carbon Neutral World Tour.” Having collected carbon dioxide measurements from their previous tours, the band is devoted to reducing their environmental impact.

Today, these efforts have been joined by environmentalists like Friends of the Earth. In addition, the British band implemented environmentally friendly measures on the road. These include shipping equipment by ship instead of air, running buses on biofuel, drinking from water flasks instead of single-use plastic cups, and encouraging fans to take public transit to shows.

pearl jam

Pearl Jam bows to fans at Madison Square Garden in New York City, 2016.

Pearl Jam joined other major 1990s actions in raising awareness about sustainability in the early 2000s. Since 2003, Pearl Jam has been involved in a number of carbon mitigation programs. This includes hiring an environmental scientist to calculate the metric tons of carbon dioxide output from each of the band’s tours, and allocating a portion of the road profits to environmental projects.

Carbon Portfolio Strategy donated $100,000 to nine non-profit organizations working in climate change and renewable energy. Recently, Pearl Jam also donated $210,000 to plant 33 acres of native trees and plants in and around Puget Sound outside their hometown of Seattle.

Bonnie Rait

Bonnie Raitt performing at the Berkeley Community Theatre, 1976-1977.
David Gan.

2008 may seem like a pioneer year for ongoing endeavors, but blues and rock goddess Bonnie Raitt has been playing concerts to raise awareness of the environmental movement since the 1970s. Considered the godmother of green touring, Raitt even created a touring branch dedicated to sustainability.

Green Highway is a non-profit educational and outreach institution founded at all of Raitt’s concerts, supporting its concert tours with outreach programs and collaborative efforts with other bands and organizations. blues women 2022 Like that The tour will continue this effort with one dollar of every ticket purchased donated to grassroots local, regional and national organizations whose work focuses on safe and sustainable energy, social justice and human rights, environmental protection, and blues education.

Neil Young

Stephen Stills (left) and Neil Young (right) performing together on the 2006 Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young tour.
Matthew Harris.

Neil Young was one of the first eco-rock stars, to practically pioneer the burning of biodiesel for fuel, setting an example for the rock community past and future. Young’s interest in environmental issues and climate change activism for most of his five-decade career continued into the 21st century on his 2004 tour featuring 15 vehicles powered by vegetable oil and soybeans.

Young also had a LincVolt prototype — a 1959 Lincoln Continental refitted into a fuel-efficient hybrid, which the Godfather of Grunge hoped to use as a low-emissions car model in the future.

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