Sustainability on Tour Vol. 2: Going Backstage & The Hunt For Plastic
I will dig into the topic of tour riders and explain how the communication between artist and venue works. We will also have a closer look at the topic of waste, featuring Philipp on a hunt for plastic and learn how we can encourage eco-friendliness.
Follow me backstage.
The backstages of the world are where touring musicians and crew spend most of their daytime. They are the living- and bathrooms, kitchens and offices, where we hang out, eat and get ready to step on stage. They come in many shapes, sizes and varying features, like the venues themselves. Some of them vintage and historical, some modern and functional.
So to create some sense of stability in a hectic tour schedule, artists send out a tour rider to the venues in advance, a document that lists stuff the venue should provide to meet the individual needs. You probably know this from some more lavish examples like having picked out the brown M&Ms or stocking the backstages with a certain italian brand of towels (find some more entertaining examples right here).
In sum, this is where artists specify what they want to consume on a daily basis. What better place to start applying eco-friendly policies?!
The Green Tour Rider
“Greening” the tour rider can be a quick and low-cost step to reduce the environmental impact of a tour. While this can vary widely depending on the individual needs, the implementation of such requests are ultimately in the hands of the local producers. In the case of Milky Chance’s Mind The Moon Europe Tour 2020 rider, next to the usual beverage and food requests, we decided to mostly stick to the recommendations found in Julie’s Bicyles’ draft. It covers pretty much everything between encouraging the switch to green power, reducing energy consumption overall, giving tips on how to decrease waste and water and even includes topics like audience travel as well.
But while it’s easy to ask venues to equip backstages, stages or even the whole house in a sustainable way, it's only logical that the artists themselves should contribute to realizing such requests as well.
Again, heading towards sustainability can only be achieved by working together and in cooperation. We cannot expect real change to happen, if we shirk responsibility by passing the buck to others.
The problem with plastic
Something we really wanted to focus on as a starting point, was reducing the usage of single-use plastics as much as possible.
Why? To put it in a nutshell, global plastic pollution is an environmental catastrophe. Almost every piece of plastic ever produced, still exists. Only about 9% of all plastics get recycled, with the rest sitting in landfills, piling up in the streets or washing up in the oceans. Humanity is addicted to the stuff, that takes hundreds of years to “decompose” while it breaks down into tiny pieces (microplastics). It is posing a threat not only to animals but human health alike.
“ ...the top 100 tours in 2015 sold an estimated 60 million plastic water bottles (the equivalent of 48,000 barrels of oil)...” The Huffington Post
And this is water bottles alone. Watch this little clip I recorded strolling through the audience area after one of our recent shows.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
For the tour, we really just followed some of the general tips to reduce plastic usage. This includes e.g. bringing our own steel coffee cups and water bottles, combined with asking for (green tour rider) refill stations backstage and renouncing single-use plastic within the catering context.
Who needs tiny single portion sachets of ketchup? They’re never enough anyways, right? ;)
We’re certainly far from perfect and the goal here is not to create shame around using this material or blame venues for providing it. In a world where this stuff is just everywhere - and a lot of the times even valid in order to serve e.g. a very current topic: hygiene! - it is extremely difficult to go from 100 to 0 overnight. While different venues have varying consciousness for or access to alternatives, we can use something like a green tour rider to help build awareness for the subject.
Overall, our requests have been met with dedication and we saved a considerable amount of single use plastics during the European Tour. But to portray just how much we use it even if we want to renounce doing so, enjoy watching Philipp on a hunt for plastic backstage in Paris.
The backstages are the home away from home during the day, but what happens at night? Coming up next: Clemens gives you an exclusive tour through our nightliner (a la MTV cribs 🤪) and discusses how transportation adds to the carbon footprint of being on the road.
Wanna dig deeper?