Photo: Guadalupe López-Íñiguez

Simple Guide for the Eco-minded Artist

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Climate change is real. It is possible you might have listened to "ignorant" politicians who believe climate change is not happening, and that we have no reason to worry. But that is simply a lie. There is evidence on our planet such as acidified oceans, severe weather events, rising sea levels, higher atmospheric concentrations of CO2, changes in vector ecology, and the decline of water and food supplies, especially during the last decade.

 

If you want to know the science behind this problem and embrace an eco-friendly quest, you can read more in the websites of United Nations and NASA. I also found an interesting short documentary by National Geographic featuring activist and actor Leonardo DiCaprio called “Before the Flood”. This documentary might serve as a quick start to undersdand the complexity behind the problem.

 

Artists, as do other professionals, make an impact on the planet. Therefore, it is our responsibility to take action now and contribute our best efforts to save our home, in order to leave a healthy environment for generations to come and for species to continue to exist. I encourage you to follow what DiCaprio is doing, but any small initiative is welcome. So I just wanted to share a few small recommendations that could make long-term positive changes.

 

Artists travel frequently. Whether performing, teaching, or researching, we are continuously collaborating with other artists and intellectuals in different locations, or performing for different audiences. This means we need cars, airplanes, and other vehicles to carry on with those activities. Why not share a car or use public transportation? Or try the wonderful Uniarts bikes to move from one academy to another? Flights are often necessary, but we can try to combine several activities within one trip to work more efficiently. Consider promoting cultural activities within your region instead of going elsewhere. Have you thought of attending masterclasses or conferences online instead of in person? Could you conduct telecommute performances (like performing over Skype or video conferencing)?

 

Artists use quite a lot of materials and equipment. Depending on our specialties, we may use musical instruments and scores, canvas and brushes, costumes and furniture, or cameras and lights. Why not recycle as much as possible, or give to others what you don’t need? Use your own reusable shopping bags instead of putting your new items inside plastic ones. Are you sure throwing away your backs of paper is a good idea, even if you can endlessly make photocopies again? Do you really need to buy that book for a short query, or can you borrow a copy from your library? Are you sure you need new concert clothes and shoes? Could you consider using ecological fabrics for your choices at least?

 

Artists use increasingly new technology. Do you really need the very newest model of iPhone, or can you wait a little longer? The production of parts for these “intelligent” phones impacts our natural resources, and children in Africa who work to provide us with those suffer every day as a result. Can you recycle equipment or buy used items instead of buying them new? Can you just clean your slow computer and bring it to the customer service for a check instead of getting the latest one? Are you sure your listening device isn’t good enough? What about vintage ones? (They are usually fantastic.)

 

Artists drink a lot of coffee/tea and (sometimes) eat. Avoid disposable containers for your beverages. You can get creative with this topic and go for a zero-waste life. My favorite blogs on this topic are Trash is for Tossers and Zero Waste Home. Both offer great ideas for raising consciousness about our consuming behaviors. And keep in mind that organic food is always a good option, though the price might be a bit higher.

 

Going ecologically conscious yourself is hard; going ecologically conscious within the arts industry is harder. So while the arts and music industries have a long way to go before they’re environmentally friendly, it’s easy to find small ways to do your part to reduce your environmental footprint. Consider supporting the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) or Leonardo DiCaprio’s initiative.