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The 15 Most Eco-Friendly Rockers

How Radiohead, Drake, Phish, the Roots and others are going green by recycling, using biodiesel and planting trees


The life of a musician is known for its excesses. But the abuse stars do to their bodies doesn't even compare to the toll that recording, releasing and performing music takes on the environment: Just one stadium show might produce as much as 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide. The good news is that increasingly artists are attempting to take responsibility and move toward greener alternatives, either by cutting back on their use of harmful products like fuel and plastic or by devoting time and money to promoting environmental causes. Here's a look at 15 artists on the forefront of a still-growing movement.


By Joe Coscarelli

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Phish have used their influence and extensive touring schedule to bring awareness to environmental issues. Their WaterWheel Foundation oversees all of the band's charitable activity by choosing organizations to support through donations and the sale of signed merchandise. With a focus on urban gardening, clean water and land conservation, WaterWheel has donated more than $550,000 to over 325 groups. In association with Reverb, Phish have also started an outreach organization called the Green Crew to clean up their tours, including their 2010 summer trip, and to inform fans about "traveling light" using the band's recommended resources for organic food, ride-share programs (with quantified emissions savings) and eco-friendly lodging. The group even incentivizes action with contests like the chance to win a live taping of the show by signing up to carpool.

Photo: Phish perform at Austin City Limits in Austin, Texas, October 8, 2010.


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Perry Farrell

The Jane's Addiction frontman and Lollapalooza founder switched his annual summer festival from a traveling show to a destination weekend in Chicago's Grant Park. But he still works to assure it's beneficial to the community, marking the grounds with an abundance of recycling bins and donating hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to the city's park projects. Interactive tents work to educate fans in the Causapalooza section of the musical playground, while all paper products are required to be recyclable material. On his own, Farrell uses eco-safe packaging for his music and aims to release new material only digitally. He also plants trees to keep his tours carbon-neutral. Together with The Doors drummer John Densmore and actor Josh Hartnett, Farrell launched the Global Cool climate change campaign to encourage the reduction of carbon emissions.

Photo: Perry Farrell at Lollapalooza in Chicago, August 5, 2007.


Don Henley

Founder of The Eagles Don Henley, Rolling Stone's 87th greatest singer of all-time, created the Walden Woods Project in 1990 to increase awareness of and prevent development on the land of author and notable naturalist Henry David Thoreau. In 1993, Henley released Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles, with proceeds going to the Walden Woods Project; five years later he assisted in the development of the Thoreau Institute to extend teachings of the intersection between philosophy and the environment. Henley's Caddo Lake Institute works simultaneously to fund ecological research, protecting the 26,000 acres of Texas wetland and the state's only natural lake, where Henley was raised.

Photo: Don Henley walks down a path in Walden Woods with President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in Lincoln, Massachusetts for the opening of the Walden Woods Preservation Project, June 5, 1998.

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Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow estimates she neutralized nearly 1.5 million pounds of CO2 by greening her 2010 tour by using biodegradable and compostable catering, biodiesel fuel and reusable water bottles for the band and crew. The tour's total carbon reductions were equivalent to 81 homes not using electricity for an entire year. Portions of the tour also went toward the Laurelbrook dairy farm in Connecticut to help purchase a methane digester to reduce the amount of toxic gas entering the atmosphere. At every show Crow required an Eco-Village to house informational booths for more than 50 environmental groups. In the past, Crow worked with StopGlobalWarming.org on a college tour and partnered with ZimRide to encourage carpooling to shows. She even planned an eco-friendly baby shower in advance of her son's birth.

Photo: Sheryl Crow performs at the final concert of the Stop Gloval Warming College Tour, April 22, 2007 in Washington, DC.


Thom Yorke

"Plastic anything is like contraband," the band Liars wrote about touring with Radiohead. "Every bus and truck runs on biofuel. There is no idling, rather some new-fangled way to deliver electricity cleanly. They don't do airfreight, either. The list goes on. Everything is supremely managed to reduce the 'footprint.'" Instead of flying their gear, singer Thom Yorke insisted on buying two sets of equipment and at one point even threatened to quit touring altogether, citing environmental concerns. But instead of hanging it up, the band worked to green their tours and support climate change awareness campaigns like Friends of the Earth. Though Yorke refused to meet with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss the environment, citing his lack of "environmental credentials," he's similarly critical of himself. "I haven't done enough," he told an Australian newspaper in 2006. "The job I'm in is a job that wastes energy left, right and centre. It's madness."

Photo: Thom Yorke attends the COP15 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, December 18, 2009.

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