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Students follow through on 'green' music tours
May 14, 2009
St. Olaf has long encouraged its students to be sustainable and live "green" lifestyles, but students in the college's musical ensembles took it upon themselves this year to reduce their environmental impact as they headed out on tours.
The St. Olaf Band, headed by a newly formed "Eco Crew" under the leadership of Erin Fulton '09, successfully neutralized their carbon output from their tour to California in February. As part of a program now called STOCarb, band members took steps while on the road to reduce their environmental impact. Members of the ensemble added a recycling bag to their tour bus alongside the usual garbage bag, and the Eco Crew promoted other ways to practice sustainability, including having bandies bring their own water bottle and take shorter, cooler showers.
Upon returning home, Fulton calculated the band's total carbon footprint for the tour, and then asked members for donations to offset that amount. The ensemble surpassed their goal and raised $331, which will be used to purchase carbon credits from Northfield-area farmers who practice no-till farming.
The St. Olaf Band is not the only music ensemble to make an effort to be sustainable this year. The St. Olaf Cantorei recently followed suit and joined the "green movement," as president Jimmy Coghlin '09 refers to it. For the choir's weekend tour to Kansas in April, organizers printed just a small number of tour books to pass around the buses instead of giving one to everyone. They also made the effort to print fewer concert programs and established an Eco Crew that was responsible for issues such as recycling and making sure members weren't littering.
Coghlin notes that while the choir's tour was short and the environmental impact was minimal, the initiative is symbolic. "We are showing our support for sustainable action by minimizing our negative impact on the environment," he says. "If we are going to pursue our musical goals as a group from an institution that promotes sustainability, it's best we try to be as environmentally responsible as possible. Of course, integral to all of this is the notion that the sharing of music can continue to happen without any long-lasting environmental repercussions."
Both Fulton and Coghlin are excited about the initiatives they've helped start this year and are optimistic the movement will continue in the future. In recent weeks Fulton has wrapped up her work writing up contracts with the local farmers from whom the band will be purchasing carbon credits. The STOCarb initiative has received enthusiastic support from faculty members across campus, and the future looks bright for the continuation of sustainability initiatives in the Music Department.