Every year, the world throws out 20 to 50 million tons of electronics, including music players, speakers, and other audio equipment, recycling only 18% at the most. Digital downloads and streaming audio may be pushing physical CDs out of the marketplace, but is streaming digital truly “no footprint” if music players and computers are, on average, replaced every two years, the discarded components exported to environmentally hazardous “e-waste” dump sites in Ghana, Nigeria, India, and China?
There are eco-friendly ways to build music products, including CD packaging, music player speakers, and even area-ready electric guitar cabinets. Companies both big and small are acknowledging what Chris Campbell, operations manager for Innova Recordings, describes as a “sea change” among consumers who love music and are concerned about a product’s environmental footprint. Here are just a few eco-friendly companies and products creatively addressing this concern.
Artists outside of the mainstream are also taking care to package their music in a similarly green way. “So many of our artists are mindful about things like being “eco-friendly” because it’s just part of who they are,” says Campbell. “It’s not a calculated PR move.” Such eco-friendly CD packaging can be expensive and labor intensive, such as the thin, 7″ x 7″ cardboard, ornately designed, letter pressed sleeve that houses string quartet Ethel’s newest CD Heavy. But Innova, being a non-profit, artist-friendly label, don’t factor in such costs when it comes to realizing an artist’s vision. “We’re lucky to have a really good vendor who’s aware of our needs and is very accommodating,” says Campbell. “It comes down to case by case basis for packaging costs.”