A Guide to Greening Your Music

A few tips for reducing your musical footprint.

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Greening your music is not all about "Kumbaya" or even "Big Yellow Taxi." It's about little lifestyle changes you can make in the way you enjoy music and contribute to the industry to bring about change. Here are some tips for reducing your musical footprint.

Buy MP3s, not CDs. For some, this probably comes as a no-brainer, but if you're still buying CDs, tons of nonbiodegradable plastic, packaging, and shipping miles go into their distribution. Cut your footprint by signing up for iTunes or another online service, and you'll have the instant gratification of immediate music, along with a lighter impact.

Support green musicians and green tours. I know, I know—taste is personal, and just because Miley Cyrus wrote a song about the environment doesn't mean you're going to like her, or should. But a lot of musicians are going green (in their actions, rather than their lyrics, which is where it counts), and supporting them can send a message to other gas-guzzling bands to clean up their acts. A list of eco-friendly musicians can be found here—is your favorite band one of them? Attendance at green concerts and tours, such as Seattle's Bumbershoot, tells other venues that being green is a draw, not a detraction, for shows.

Carpool with other fans to shows, or take public transportation. Green musicians will encourage their bands to ride-share, which also builds a close-knit community of fans. Facebook has a carpool application (which should be an addition to my list of eight eco-friendly Facebook applications), which, in combination with iLike's concert finder, should help you get a ride to the show if public transportation isn't available. Some bands, like Wilco, have set up ride-sharing systems on their site.

Buy sound equipment that will last. Look for audio equipment that is Energy Star rated. Treehugger's Alan Graham recommends the Sonos system for its sound and efficiency. Try to buy better and fewer gadgets.

Then, recycle it when you're done. When your equipment becomes obsolete, don't let it sit in a closet, and definitely don't throw it in the trash, where its toxic chemicals will leach into the ground. You can trade it in for cash that will go toward your next sound system.

Support terrestrial radio. My search for a comparison of the footprints of terrestrial vs. satellite radio yielded no meaningful results, but it seems reasonable to assume that launching a radio satellite into space consumes more carbon and resources than building towers on the ground. Say what you will about Clear Channel and other radio conglomerates' effect on local radio, the company has taken steps to go green, such as building efficient offices and setting up a bike-sharing program in Washington, D.C.

But if you're listening to satellite radio while you carpool to the show in your hybrid—well, you're probably OK.


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