Discussion, Music, Advice

A Greener Option?

The Environment & The Music Industry

I don’t know about anyone else but the recent Extinction Rebellion Climate Change protests in London and, to a lesser extent, in Shaftesbury last Saturday (no, really) got me thinking about some of the ways the music industry addresses the issues. For example, the go-to material for dark wood guitar fingerboards was, up until recently, Rosewood. This became protected on the CITES list in 2017 and restrictions placed on its trade across international borders. In response, many manufacturers, most notably Fender, switched to alternatives such as Pau Ferro or Walnut.

Image by Niklas Pntk

Image by Niklas Pntk

As the regulation was actually aimed at halting illegal logging in the furniture industry, there is a feeling that, in this instance, musical instrument manufacture was caught up in the crossfire. Industry leaders are debating whether to lobby for Rosewood to come off the CITES list for finished musical instruments, instrument parts and accessories at the CITES meeting in Sri Lanka in May 2019. For more info, click here to read the report from the Musical Industries Association.

The response from Fender to remove Rosewood from their manufacture shows that even the biggest names in the industry can and will take environmental issues seriously. The Canadian manufacturer Godin (which includes Arts & Lutherie and Seagull) source their materials from the Canadian forestry commission: trees that have to be cut down as part of forest management, creating fire breaks and so on to protect the forest, are used in the guitar manufacture. It is a sustainable by-product that allows the natural habitat to remain healthy.

Local Musicians and Music Stores Doing Their Bit

Shopping Locally:
Buying an instrument on-line might seem like a sensible thing to do to cut emissions, however, it may not always be the case. For example, if you buy an instrument from your local supplier, it can be done as part of your planned shopping trip. Buying that same instrument on line might actually increase the number of traffic movements significantly as the delivery firm has to collect it from the retailer, return to the distribution hub and then move it back out for delivery to the customer. Also - I always advise people to buy the instrument they have actually played rather than the picture they’ve seen on line!

Not saying it’s the best option but worth considering… (Image by David Mark)

Not saying it’s the best option but worth considering… (Image by David Mark)

How many times do you see bands arrive at venues in 4 cars rather than the minimum number required? Drummers, I am not necessarily aiming this at you - you have enough kit to actually need the whole car! No, I am thinking about when you are playing at a venue that already has PA and yet we still turn up with one musician per vehicle. I know it’s not always possible, but there are times when we can do better so it’s definitely worth considering.

As musicians we can do more than simply write protest songs: it’s got be worth a go, right?