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How the love for music can benefit the environment

Publication Date: October 17, 2018

As you stroll to and from class at Rider, your favorite songs pulse through your earbuds and remedy your stress and anxiety. When you run on the treadmill in the Schimek Fitness Center, an intense rock track or energizing pop song fuels your drive to push yourself harder.

Now, we have every genre and style of music right at our fingertips. Our playlists have come to shape our lives, whether they are pre-made on Spotify or personalized by us. The music we listen to makes us who we are. Music expresses individuality and, from my experience, Rider students asserts their uniqueness unapologetically.

As an avid musician myself in many genres, it is difficult to ignore the impact music has had on my life. However, the sustainability of the music industry is an aspect that is vastly overlooked.

All orchestras, symphonies, jazz ensembles and other music groups are fluent in different styles of music, but they all have one thing in common — sheet music. The purchase of sheet music is a $1 billion industry in the United States alone, and around 5,000 organizations purchase new sheet music every year, according to Forbes. Sheet music is crucial for any musician in an ensemble since learning one of Beethoven’s overtures by ear is not an easy feat.

Nicole Rebovich, a sophomore marketing major, is a member of Rider University’s Courtside Band, as well as the Princeton-Rider Brass Band. Rebovich expressed her discontent with sheet music referring to the amount of music she prints for herself and others as “ridiculous and worrisome at times.”

Is there an alternative to this extensive use of paper? It may be possible to start viewing sheet music digitally, although it is not widely done.

Sheet music is not the only way that our favorite beats and rhythms affect our environment. Music production requires extensive resources, including instruments, audio mixers, amplifiers, microphones and countless other tools typically used in a studio. Once tools like these break down or are replaced by something better, they become electronic waste (e-waste). A study by the United Nations University found that only about 15.5 percent of e-waste gets recycled in 2014.

However, one of the most widely known impacts of the music industry is the colossal carbon footprint it inflicts. It may be difficult to connect the two at first, but it is actually quite simple. When artists go on tour or perform at festivals, these spectacles require extensive resources. Transportation, one of the largest contributors of carbon dioxide, is necessary not only for the artist performing, but for equipment, the band members and most of all, the fans. Nevertheless, not all hope is lost.

Musicians around the world are making strides to reduce their carbon footprint and strive to offset the carbon emissions produced by their shows. Certain venues like the Greek Theater at the University of California, Berkeley had committed to offset the carbon emissions for the entire concert season, thanks to a partnership with Clif Bar, an American company that produces organic foods and drinks.

According to, their purchase of renewable wind energy credits was “equivalent to offsetting 88 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, or the amount of carbon dioxide created by 176,000 miles of car travel.”

It may have seemed like being sustainable in this industry was near impossible, but this has been proven untrue. Our upcoming green film, Landfill Harmonic, shines a spotlight on a Paraguayan group called the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura that demonstrates sustainability in a powerful and unique way.

Unable to afford traditional orchestral instruments, this group forges an entire ensemble of instruments from the garbage that floods their community. Favio Chavez, the director of the orchestra, not only devised a way to reduce waste, but used it to cultivate his students’ love for music.

It is not just in Paraguay that people are repurposing garbage for music. Kory Koch, a junior popular music studies major said he “made a set of chimes out of an old pipe left over from a shower curtain”.

The popular art form of Recycled Orchestra is more prevalent in today’s society than ever, acting as not just a skill or profession but as an outlet for the stresses we face every day as students and as human beings. Our stress relief shouldn’t have to come at the cost of the stress of our planet.

Alina Bardaji

Rider Eco-Rep

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