5 Top Tips for String Players to Live a More Eco-Friendly Life | Blogs
The calendar seems jam-packed with ‘Hallmark Holidays’ these days: Friendship Day, Grandparents Day, and even National Chocolate Covered Cashew Day (count me in!). On April 22, we are called to celebrate Earth Day, a very important date that has been observed in the United States since 1970 and around the world since 1990. On Earth Day 2016, 175 countries signed the Paris Agreement.
Dedicating a special day to climate awareness is fantastic, but seeing green businesses and eco-activists mark the event in impressive fashion can make our own small actions pale in comparison. I’m here to encourage you to make small changes can make a big difference! If you know me, you’ll know that one of my favorite green quotes is this:
“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly. – Anne-Marie Bonneau, La Chef Zero Déchet
If we have a chance of reversing global warming, then EVERY day should be Earth Day! But what can we do to reduce our impact on the environment and help protect our struggling planet? here are my 5 Top Tips for String Players to Live a Greener Life:
1. Keep a reusable bag on/in your instrument case
Most waste reduction advocates recommend keeping reusable bags in your purse or car ready for any situation. If you’re like me, you feel like a turtle without its shell when your instrument isn’t on your back! So why not also attach a reusable bag to your case, or keep one in the music pocket?
2. Go digital
Whether your students have forgotten their books again or you’ve been sent music to prepare for your next concert, consider whether photocopies are necessary or whether viewing the music digitally might serve you just as well. Most prints are only used for a few minutes anyway! If printing is a necessity, keep a supply of scrap paper next to your printer – it will be just as easy to grab as a fresh piece.
When you go to concerts, also take advantage of digital tickets and program notes.
3. Used sheet music
Most of us wouldn’t hesitate to buy sheet music new, but why not check out eBay and other second-hand dealers the next time you decide to expand your library? You might find some amusing annotations from past owners, and sending someone a few pennies as they clean up their own sheet music collection could really make their day.
This trick works both ways: give yourself an afternoon (OK, probably a week…or a few months!) to play on your old sheet music and decide what might bring someone else more joy – you might even find duplicates! By decluttering your own library, not only will you be able to find your favorite tracks more easily, but your old music can bring joy to others.
4. Used instruments
This will seem like a no-brainer to most, especially if you’re sitting at home next to a beloved relic from the 1800s, but it’s easy to forget that there are used student instruments out there, too. Beginners at the comprehensive school where I teach receive free instruments, which were all ordered new.
I recently started browsing Facebook Marketplace instead of instruments, and as young people become more concerned about the environment, my students loved receiving their pre-loved instruments. It also frees up people who free up space in their cupboards, knowing that the instrument they felt guilty about neglecting has gone to an eager new learner!
5. Donate your old ropes
As a professional performer, I change my strings mostly because they’ve gone down in tone rather than because they’ve broken. Since even a high quality dull string will easily outperform a low cost beginner string, I often give away my old strings to students. It’s amazing the difference a good string can make to the sound of a student level instrument!
If you live in the US, you can also live near a Terracycle Rope Recycling Point – find out here.
For everyday decisions in all areas of life, keep the 5 Rs of zero waste champion Bea Johnson in mind. Follow them in order: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot. If we all work together to make better choices, we can move forward to a brighter future where music can thrive on a prosperous planet.
(And if anyone wants to join me in celebrating National Chocolate Covered Cashew Day, it falls on the eve of Earth Day!)