Saturday, August 14, 2010

Crow's Footprint

The document, excerpted here, actually has a 2-1/2 page “environmental portion” to be “strictly followed and policed.” Seeking to “minimize the overall environmental impact of our tour,” Crow demands that only biodegradable cups and dinnerware be used by the caterer. Produce should be “organic and purchased from local suppliers as much as possible.” And for the five backstage “watering stations,” water “must be sourced from a local spring water vendor.”

According to Crow’s rider, her tour party travels between gigs in two 45-foot buses, while her equipment is packed into two tractor-trailers.

Crow, 48, also offers promoters “venue greening suggestions.” She wants “traditional light bulbs” swapped out for compact fluorescent bulbs in “all offices, dressing rooms and common areas.” “Eco-friendly cleaning and bathroom products” and “post-consumer recycled toilet paper and paper towel” should also be used. Crow’s rider also notes that, “We strongly encourage you to use renewable sources and/or to buy sustainable energy credits where possible. Many local utilities offer ‘green power’ as an option--please check with yours and opt in.”

I like Sheryl Crow's music. She seems like a genuinely nice woman who obviously has a good heart, is well-intentioned and cares for the Earth, as all but the fake Al Gore Warmista type of liberals do. But this is getting a but much. This is the same person who three years ago called for bathroom users to make do with a single sheet of toilet paper. I cannot fault Ms. Crow for wanting to cut down on the waste, energy use and, to her mind, damage to Gaia that her tour will cause, in fact that is a noble effort on her part.

What I have a problem with are the logistics of the thing. Calling for the venues hosting her to use biodegradable dinner plates and utensils in her backstage rooms is fine for the environment, but that will cost the venues more, and as we all know, businesses don't pay taxes and they also pass extras costs like that onto consumers, in this case buyers of Crow's tickets. I find it bizarre that she specifies old-school incandescent bulbs be exclusively used backstage, since they consume far more power than CFL bulbs. Maybe she is aware of the mercury in those lamps and the problems that can cause, but then again those bulbs will have to be either safely stored for later use or recycled in an expensive process to contain the mercury and keep it from getting into the environment.

Wanting "eco-friendly" cleaning products is fine, but those also cost more. I actually do agree with her on that one because many common household and industrial cleaning products are toxic to humans and other life, being themselves composed partly of unwanted industrial waste (just like your toothpaste). Wanting 100% recycled napkins and toilet paper is also fine but also more expensive. And, according to her 2007 statement, she should only request one square of toilet paper per person for herself, her band and her crew.

My problem with this whole thing is that Sheryl Crow is not actually going to save energy with this set of rider demands. Recycling old products to create new retail material is enormously time- and energy-consuming when compared with creating things like plates, toilet paper and napkins anew from trees. The incandescent light bulbs increase her energy "footprint," which, by the way is a term that irritates me. And the main reason why I think it's a noble effort but a complete waste of time is that whatever savings in terms of energy and trash is tiny in comparison to the total amount involved her tour.

It's a nice gesture but it simply won't make a bit of difference. Ms. Crow's carbon footprint will remain the same, as, I'm sure, will her song.

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