This week is National Recycle Week in the UK. People up and down the country are reminded of their collective responsibility to the planet. Businesses like Coca-Cola, the Co-op, Ocado, Danone and Waitrose have pledged their support. And we’ve come up with four ways musicians can save the environment as well.
Hands up if you have an old guitar gathering cobwebs in the corner of your room. A viola in the attic? A trumpet under the stairs? Why not give it a new lease of life this Recycle Week? Charities like The World Heart Beat Music Academy give donated instruments to young students for free. Electric Umbrella either fix-up, re-purpose, play, adapt or sell donated instruments to provide interactive music experiences for disabled people. And Sistema England is looking for orchestral instruments in fully playable condition for children who might not otherwise have the chance to learn. Instruments aren’t made to be spider hotels. Now is as good a time as any to shake off the dust and send your old instrument on a new musical journey.
Whether it’s an instrument, a CD or a music book, buying second-hand is often much cheaper than buying new. And it’s healthier for the environment as well. Buying used music books will do the planet a huge favour! According to theworldcounts.com, 199 tonnes of paper is produced every fifteen seconds. And 93% of that paper comes directly from our vanishing forests. That’s 370 tonnes of forest gone before you’ve finished reading this paragraph. But websites like Bookwise, Preloved, Hancock & Monks, eBay, and sheetmusicwarehouse.co.uk all have vast libraries of used music books to choose from. By visiting them, you could save yourself some cash, and save a few trees as well.
Let’s say you have a special performance coming up, and you need something to wear. Forget the high-street brands. Fast fashion is out of vogue. Sustainability is the new black. Hurr, Rotaro, Hirestreet, By Rotation and Endless Wardrobe all have reams of fabulous rentable outfits. They offer wine-spill insurance, credited try-on periods, and even tick-boxes to make your purchase permanent if you fall in love. It’s all too easy in our disposable world to buy, use once and bin perfectly good products. But if it’s a one-time affair, surely renting is better and less expensive for you and Planet Earth.
You may be way ahead of us here. But if you’re looking for a fast buck, how about selling your unwanted CDs, cassettes, DVDs, games, books, instruments and gear online? You no longer have to stand in a windswept field at the crack of dawn, wrapping yourself around a flask of cocoa while strangers judge you for owning glam rock albums you haven’t listened to since before mobile phones were invented. Music Magpie, Zapper and Ziffit all offer more efficient means of reselling.
And sure, there are some titles you just won’t want to part with. But even the most ardent hard-copy advocates have CDs lurking in the backs of their cupboards that they could probably live without. If you can’t find a buyer, you can also give your old items away via websites like Freecycle and Freegle. So, perhaps this Recycle Week you could help the environment and help yourself to a windfall.
Recycle Week is always a good time for us to rethink our relationship with the environment. Frank Zappa once wrote that music could eventually be banned, what with the oil and plastics used to make records, and the energy and fuel burned on big rock ‘n’ roll tours. He added that we’re fortunate to live in a part of the world where music is unlikely to be banned for any reason. But his point about our environmental footprint still stands. Hopefully, these suggestions can help us to make a small difference. Because those small differences could one day add up to the permanent change our planet badly needs.