As the debate rages on about the effectiveness of the Live Earth concerts, I keep flashing on the cutaways of lei-wearing Alec Baldwin rockin' out to the Police in the packed Giants Stadium. And how impressive were the taut post-50-year-old bodies of Roger Waters, Sting and (pushing 50) Madonna?<
Guitarist Andy Summers, former Vice President Al Gore, drummer Stewart Copeland and singer/bassist Sting
Alex Baldwin and Madonna at Live Earth
Yet despite her success at the gym, Madge still can't get Zen with eco critics who've labeled her tours stunningly wasteful, her personal life grossly lavish (she owns at least six homes in London and more elsewhere), and question Live Earth's choice to make her a headliner.
Now it seems that musicians' professional and personal habits are under scrutiny. How eco friendly are their tours? Do they really need to fly private jets and own palatial homes?
Styx front man (currently building his own green home) Tommy Shaw tells TGC how his band keeps it environmental. "We use reusable cups and mugs. We ask for biodegradable paper plates instead of plastic." On the tour buses, "it's real silverware all the way, and if we use plastic, we wash and reuse it."
Tommy Shaw and wife Jeanne
The renegade guitarist takes it a step further. "We've designed an eco-friendly fabric tote to sell at our concerts to replace paper or plastic when you shop for groceries. We plan to toss some bags from onstage at our next show."
Shaw may have devised his own green solutions, but a new industry has emerged to help touring bands reduce their impact; meet the green consultants. These are the guys who get the venues to cut down on the 470,00 plastic cups, 200,000 napkins and 600 light bulbs each is bound to use each year. They convince bands like Pearl Jam and Incubus to fill their rigs and buses with biodiesel.
This summer alone, green touring acts include John Mayer, Bon Jovi, Incubus, The Fray and The Beastie Boys. Mayer paired with environmental organization Reverb (which also worked eco-friendly tours for Red Hot Chili Peppers, Avril Lavigne and Jack Johnson) to erect on-site green villages and showcase eco-minded sponsors.
Incubus fan promo items include organic T-shirts and posters printed on recycled paper using soy ink. The Fray play on vintage guitars and turn their used guitar strings into jewelry. The Beastie Boys trade out a free Beastie item to fans that drop cell phones and accessories at their on-site recycling booths. (Cell phones are a huge threat to the waste stream, since the devices leak toxic substances into the water supply; recycling keeps cell phones out of landfills and available to reuse parts.)
The Fray play on vintage guitars and turn used guitar strings into jewelry.
But the trophy should probably go to the Ditty Bops, a female folk duo who traveled 4,700 miles to promote their last albumon bicycles!
These artists all follow the carbon neutral touring trails blazed by Neil Young, Bonnie Raitt, Dave Matthews and Willie "BioWillie" Nelson. (Nelson went so far as to market his own line of biodiesel fuel.) Even rock festivals like The Vans Warped Tour use washable dishware and utensils for bands and crew, run buses and rigs on biodiesel and have bands perform on a solar-powered stage.
Willie "BioWillie" Nelson
For the mountain of plastic and paper left behind at the Bonnaroo festival, a company called Clean Vibes handles trash and recycling management. Clean Vibes has recycled 56% of waste at the past five festivals!
As Tommy Shaw so fittingly sums it up: "The bell has rung. Let skeptics be skeptical, but eventually everyone will realize we have but one Earth, and by each of us doing one little thing, we can make an enormous difference for generations to come." Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.
Prince Charles and the Royal Family Go Green
The "G" list: This week's celeb-types earning a green thumbs up:
Britain's Prince Charles for lowering his carbon footprintand talking about it! A report, which claims the Prince and his staff have been carbon neutral since 2005, shows he installed woodchip boilers at his residences and converted his cars to run on vegetable oil. The green royal is also investing in sustainable energy projects. And good news for Hollywood's Coke drinkers: the world's largest soft-drink maker recently announced it would begin recycling and replenishing the water it uses (about 75 billion gallons a year)!
This week's happenings that get a brown thumbs down:
Someone should send Eva Longoria a Blood Diamond DVDher wedding ring reportedly sports 180 diamonds! *** Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wants every home in California to go solar by 2010, but poor Gore Vidal had his turned off. As reported in the New York Daily News, Los Angeles Water and Power disabled Vidal's solar power, forcing him back to electric. *** Formerly liberal comedian Dennis Miller joined the Live Earth bashing on Bill O'Reily's show by saying there's no need to campaign for awareness: "If you're not aware [of the global warming crisis] you've been out in the sun too much."
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