Ban the Bottle

Green Music Australia is encouraging musicians and punters to ditch single-use water bottles.

Plastic water bottles.

They’re probably not the first thing you’d think of if you were asked to change Australia’s music industry for the better, but they’ve been singled out by Green Music Australia and for good reason.

Aussies buy more than 118,000 tonnes of plastic drink bottles per year, and of those less than 40 per cent get recycled. If you’ve ever witnessed the aftermath of a music Festival, it’s likely you’ve waded ankle-deep through a sea of empty plastic water bottles.

CEO Tim Hollo established Green Music Australia in 2013, taking it on himself to wipe the scourge of plastic water bottles from live music events.

“It started as a musician when I was gigging 20 years ago or more; you’d show up to a venue and there’d be jugs and glasses everywhere. Over the years, plastic water bottles started appearing and I was frustrated that there just seemed to be more and more and more of them everywhere in the music industry in vast, vast quantities. They were really the reason I set up Green Music Australia,” says Tim.

“As musicians and artists, we all tend to be very passionate and care about the environment, but beyond what we do on stage we were leaving a huge footprint that we just don’t need. The issue of plastic bottles is one that is small enough to bite off and chew… but big enough to make a sizeable impact on the marine environment, our rivers and climate change.”

Green Music Australia’s BYO Bottle campaign is currently taking a three-pronged approach to curing the plague of plastic sweeping the nation:

  1. Asking musicians to request glasses and water jugs or access to drinkable tap water in their artist riders. Musicians wanting to make the change can get a rider template here
  2. Working with small- to mid-size music events to help them stamp out single-use bottles and transition to water bottle refilling stations instead; and
  3. Empowering punters to put the pressure on 5 of Australia’s biggest music festivals – including Townsville’s Groovin’ the Moo – to make the switch.

Tim says the campaign is starting to pick up some serious momentum.

We have over a dozen events that have pledged to make the change now and about 40 artist ambassadors.

“Some of those events are quite sizeable. Caloundra Music Festival has certainly been at the forefront and Illawarra Folk Festival phased out all of their water bottles last year – in January they took the next step and phased single-use cups in all their bars.”

The move away from single-use bottles and cups is one that requires Festivals to have dishwashing facilities on-site and to educate volunteers, staff and event-goers. However, Tim says every event that has stepped up to the challenge so far has succeeded.

“Once you take that step, it’s actually not that scary. We used to do it all the time.

Tim's tips for banning the bottle

1. Ensure plenty of refilling stations both front of house and backstage
2. Encourage punters to BYO bottles or provide reusable alternatives on site
3. Consider bubblers
4. Use easily identifiable signage to indicate refilling stations
5. Work closely with your bar staff and providers to ensure everyone’s on the same page
6. Communicate with artists, punters and crew before the event

“If everyone is well prepared it can lead to big, long-term change… When you’re listening to music, your heart and your mind are open to new ideas in different ways. In that state, you will see that throw away culture is not cool and that may just carry over [to the rest of your life]. The next time you buy lunch you might choose to take your own water bottle or when you buy your next coffee you might rethink the takeaway cup and opt for one of those keep cups and to have it there instead.

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