Are Concerts and Festivals Harmful to the Environment?

2023 was a big year for concert tours and music festivals. Artists like Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, and Drake had sold-out tours. They brought in an estimated $9.17 billion in ticket sales. Music festivals were also popular. Festivals grew to an estimated $30.4 billion globally in 2023. And the trend looks to continue. There are over 44 highly anticipated tours already scheduled for this year. But when the last of the glitter falls and the equipment is packed up, our eardrums aren’t the only things left hurting. Unfortunately, our environment feels the impact of the shows. The planet feels it long after the lights go out and the acts move on.

How is it possible for these seemingly harmless events to cause environmental damage?

Concerts have become much larger productions in recent years. With ballooning budgets and bigger expectations, the need for more comes at a cost. Beyoncé’s recent tour required over 160 vehicles to move its stage between cities. Taylor Swift uses a private jet to travel from locations. Her jet produced an estimated 8,300 tons of carbon emissions in 2022. Combined with travel from fans and staff, even getting to the event adds to climate change.

These events don’t happen without physical waste either. Coachella is one of the most famous music festival. It produces over 600 tons of solid waste. But only 20% gets recycled. For music festivals of that size, the waste can end up in wetlands. This creates hazards for wildlife. Plus, other single use materials can break down and release harmful toxins over time.

The demand for concert-specific fashion also heightens the environmental impact. Fast fashion accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions. It also adds to the physical waste because much of the clothes aren’t used after the event. The production of these garments also depletes non-renewable resources.

What can these events do to lessen their impact?

The answer is simple. Scaling back their production is a key solution. Constructing stages and using equipment that are simpler to transport. Concert-goers can carpool and use public transit. That can have an effect, but that isn’t enough. The organizers of these events must put environmental consciousness over profits.

Safeguard our waterways from waste. Demand Congress pass wetland protections.

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