Update: To join our Plastic Free July push, click here
Imagine music festivals and venues keeping musicians and punters healthily hydrated with no single use disposable plastic water bottles in sight. It’s actually not that hard to imagine, because it’s what we all used to do! And there are several amazing leaders in Australia, like the Caloundra Music Festival, doing it again.
Single use, disposable plastic water bottles are an entirely unnecessary product in Australia, with demand manufactured by marketing campaigns, and with a massive environmental impact. The waste from the hundreds of millions of bottles Australians buy and throw out every year ends up mostly in landfill and, too often, in our waterways, leaching toxic pollution into our soil and rivers. As well as damaging local environments, the manufacture and transport of the bottles generates over 60,000 tonnes of planet-warming greenhouse gas pollution each year, according to Cool Australia, who have a great summary of the problems with bottled water here.
Over the last 20 years, single use bottles have gone from an oddity to everywhere, and the music scene is no exception. Musicians themselves, instead of being given jugs and glasses of water when we perform, frequently find trays of small disposable bottles as the only water provided by venues and festivals. Audience members are often handed free plastic water bottles when arriving at festivals as a reminder to stay hydrated, and food and drink stalls sell them by the thousand, creating a rubbish headache for organisers as well as an environmental nightmare.
While we mightn’t think of water bottles as part of the music industry’s environmental footprint, it’s no exaggeration to suggest that they could easily account for one of our biggest impacts. They are also extremely visible, there are readily available alternatives, there are existing leaders in the industry already phasing them out or banning them altogether, and, being a product manufactured by marketing, they are highly vulnerable to a cultural campaign.
Green Music Australia is going to take them on, and we need your help!
What can we do
Artists: “green riders” and merch
As an artist, there are two great options for taking part in this campaign.
The first is super easy – write a green drinks rider! You can make it clear to venues and festivals that you do not want disposable bottles provided as part of your drinks rider, but you do want jugs, taps or refilling stations made available. By doing that, you not only avoid using them yourself, but you also draw the issue to the attention of the venues and festivals you play at, getting them thinking about alternatives and hopefully encouraging them to take broader action.
We’ve drafted language you can cut and paste and start using straight away, in the right hand column of this page. As more people use it, we’ll share the list of artists committed to BYO Bottle on the site.
Secondly, you can make reusable bottles as part of your mechandise, and promote them with a strong environmental message. Green Music Australia supporter, Ash Grunwald, has done this recently, with this gorgeous bottle.
Green Music Australia can advise you and help you with both these approaches.
Festivals and venues going plastic water bottle free
If you run a venue or festival, you have an incredible opportunity to be a leader on this issue and make a big difference to our industry’s environmental impact. It can seem like a big leap, but it’s actually not that hard to do – all it involves is providing alternatives and promoting them, then taking the step to tell contractors, caterers and sponsors that you won’t be having disposables on site.
The main alternatives are water refilling stations. These can be attractive and fun, and are a great idea for sponsors to embrace instead of handing out free disposable bottles. Alongside the refilling stations, you can sell high quality reusable bottles as part of your merchandise.
Most important, once you’ve got the alternatives in place, is to communicate – with your musicians, your contractors and caterers, and, of course, your punters. If people know there won’t be disposable bottles available to buy on site, but that there will be plenty of refilling stations, they will make sure to bring their own, or buy one there.
Hey, we’ll need your help! Firstly through getting prepared and bringing your own bottles, but also helping us spread the word, and put pressure on where it’s needed, to get major venues and festivals to change their practices.
The best thing you can do right now is sign our open letter calling on five of Australia’s leading music festivals to ditch disposables and go #BYOBottle!
Sign up to our campaign mailing list and we’ll be sure to call on you when we need your help!