#GoGreen: Top Tips For Sustainable Touring

RPM has captured best practices from artists, industry leading experts, and organizations that have experience creating more sustainable concerts, festivals, and tours. Below are our top tips for artists who want to make their tours more sustainable (not just greener).

RPM is here to help. For more sustainable touring tips or assistance implementing any of these strategies, contact us directly at info@revolutionsperminute.net.
What Your Fans Can Do: #GoGreen to Shows

The Problem: Fan transportation constitutes up to 85-90% of the carbon emissions on a tour. Encouraging fans to use public transit or carpool is the most important and effective way to reduce emissions.

The Impact:

If just 10% of the concert goers who normally drive took public transit or carpooled, we would prevent 35 million pounds of carbon from entering the atmosphere per year. It would take 800,000 trees being planted every year to scrub that much carbon!

The Solution:

  1. Add a sentence about public transit and carpooling to all of your tour announcement pages and in social. Below is some sample language.
  2. Book into venues most accessible by public transit.
  3. Offer incentives, like a lottery to win free downloads or backstage passes, for those fans that do use eco-friendly transit. And then promote it in your social and fan communications.

→ Sample website language: By taking public transit or carpooling to concerts, we can prevent 35 million pounds of carbon from entering the atmosphere–800,000 trees would have to be planted every year to prevent that amount of carbon from harming the atmosphere! Google Transit can help you get to our shows using public transit. See you there!

→ Sample social language:

Twitter: Take public transit or carpool to our shows. Together we can curb 35 million pounds of carbon per year #GoGreen http://bit.ly/X5pYp9

Tweet a photo of how you are using public transportation to get to our show & you will be entered to win a backstage pass.

Facebook: #GoGreen by carpooling or taking public transit to our shows. Here’s how: http://bit.ly/X5pYp9 Together we can help prevent 35 million pounds of carbon from entering the atmosphere–800,000 trees would have to be planted every year to mitigate that amount of carbon!

Share a photo of how you are using public transportation to get to our show and you will be entered to win a backstage pass.

What You Can Do:

Use reusable water containers on your tour. A single tour can keep 18,000 plastic bottles out of the garbage by simply using reusable water containers. These can be refilled at rest stop water fountains or grocery stores instead of getting cases of bottled water. Request that the venue provide water coolers backstage for use with refillable water bottles in riders. Bring the containers on stage to use so that fans see and can emulate.

To help put these practices in action:

  • Give each band and crew member a labeled water container to use for the tour.
  • Ask bus companies to use filtered water on the bus so that you can refill.
  • Request or bring your own water coolers backstage.
  • Sell branded water bottles to fans to encourage them to use reusable containers.
  • Carry your own reusable utensils rather than using plastic ones.

Route Tours Wisely. Book tours in the most efficient way possible by routing them within a few hours of each other and taking the shortest routes possible to avoid unnecessary mileage and eliminate backtracking.

Keep Flying to A Minimum. Flying has the highest climate impact of any form of transportation. When you have to fly, do it during the day whenever possible–studies have shown that night flights release more emissions–and try to fly airlines with environmentally sustainable policies and practices and newer fleets.

Tour Lightly. Consolidate the number of trucks and buses on tour as much as possible and use trucking, busing, and van rental companies with sustainable policies. For example, Bandago is a van rental company that caters specifically to the music community while continually finding ways to incorporate new technologies and greener policies into the services they provide. During shows, don’t leave buses idling; if they need energy, hook them up to a green-powered generator.

Create an Eco-Rider. Incorporate environmental requests for venues directly into a rider. Many of the tips listed here can appear in your rider. Here are just a few examples of what other artists have included in theirs:

  • Venue will have a complete recycling program backstage, throughout the audience area, and in parking lots.
  • Venue to allow concertgoers to bring their own bottles and provide free refills to reduce packaging waste.
  • Venue to purchase renewable energy credits or carbon offsets for each show.
  • Caterers will provide washable or biodegradable plates, cutlery, and cups for all meals.
  • Venue to have an in-house composting program for catering scraps.
  • Concessions company to use 100% biodegradable food ware and/or recyclable plastic cups and bottles to be recycled by venue.
  • Dressing room and backstage facilities to have water-efficient appliances.
  • Venue to provide water coolers backstage for use with refillable water bottles.
  • Venue to provide bike racks (if cycling is possible in this location).

Biodiesel. Newer fleets sometimes run more efficiently than old buses using biodiesel. Check with your bus company to see if you are using the most efficient bus and trucks. If you are interested in using biodiesel, contact Reverb.

Stay at Hotels That Promote Sustainable Practices. The Green Hotels Association maintains a list of hotels that have pledged to conserve resources and increase energy efficiency. Staying with friends and family along a tour is a greener option than staying in a hotel and is a must for those bands on a budget.

Produce And Promote Merchandise and Music Responsibly. Produce all materials and signage with ecologically friendly materials. Use organic cotton shirts or shirts made from fibers such as bamboo, hemp, and soy. Plan ahead and limit excess overnight shipping of t-shirts and other merchandising products to venues.

Do a Bike Tour. Artists like Blind Pilot, Ben Sollee, and Benny Benassi have found bike tours to be an innovative way to produce a more carbon neutral tour while raising fan awareness and support for the issues they care about. The promotion and support of bike coalitions and biking as an alternative transportation method can encourage fans to make lifestyle changes that go well beyond the day of the show. For more on bike tours and advocacy, contact us directly.

Partner with Local Organizations. Get involved in energy and environmental policy efforts with local organizations. Call RPM to connect with organizations that have worked with artists on a wide-range of issues and for other resources and research on partnering with organizations.

Offset What Canʼt Be Reduced. After all other carbon reduction activities have been exhausted, purchase carbon offsets and renewable energy credits to help neutralize a tourʼs remaining contribution to global warming. Native Energy and Green Mountain Energy are two artist-recommended offset providers that have specific teams dedicated to working with the artist community and can help calculate the carbon emissions for a specific tour. Remember that while offsets can be part of a comprehensive solution, they should not be seen as a substitute for better practices.