Band plants trees to offset tour
Pearl Jam has partnered with the Cascade Land Conservancy to mitigate carbon-equivalent emissions from its ongoing world tour. The band will donate $210,000 to plant 33 acres of native trees and plants in four Puget Sound communities: Seattle, Kirkland, Redmond and Kent.
Seattle Times staff columnist
No offense to Mr. Jagger, but it's never only rock 'n' roll.
It's trucks and buses, freight being shipped. It's air travel and hotel rooms. It's electricity in the arenas. It's fans driving to the show and back.
All that rocking and rolling can rack up some 5,400 metric tons of carbon-equivalent emissions.
And for Pearl Jam, it's just bad business, and no way to treat the place its members call home.
So the band has partnered with the Cascade Land Conservancy (CLC) to mitigate carbon-equivalent emissions from its ongoing 2009 world tour.
Pearl Jam will donate $210,000 to plant 33 acres of native trees and plants in four Puget Sound communities: Seattle, Kirkland, Redmond and Kent.
The band hopes to make up for the environmental damage it does during its current world tour, which heads to the Midwest next month.
"We're going to store carbon where it should be," said Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard. "In our urban forests."
The carbon partnership is the largest CLC has ever had, and one CLC President Gene Duvernoy would like other businesses to imitate.
There's no reason not to, he said. Carbon offsets are not only good for business, they preserve habitat and bring communities together, since the plantings in the four cities will be done by volunteers.
Over the next year, Duvernoy plans to meet with leading Northwest companies to see if they might return to the earth what doing business can consume.
"Learning how to do this responsibly is a great strategic benefit for any business," he said — not just a rock band.
Does he have any businesses in mind? I asked.
Duvernoy demurred. He's a nice guy, and declined to call any Northwest company out on the carbon-emissions carpet.
But Gossard had no qualms.
"Microsoft should offset their carbons," he told me. "They benefit a great deal from Washington state, bring people here from all over the world, and is a perfect company to begin to look at its carbon footprint."
To be fair, Microsoft and many other Northwest companies are working to reduce their carbon footprints. But Duvernoy knew of no other partnerships to offset emissions the way Pearl Jam is doing.
It's something to think about. Amazon may have free shipping, but is it, really? And Costco brings its goods across the ocean and across the country every day. We consumers may be saving money, but I wonder what we're costing the planet.
Pearl Jam had its tour's carbon footprint measured last month by Michael Totten, a chief adviser with Climate, Energy & Green Technologies.
The band's 14 trucks, six buses and other shipments rack up some 1,600 metric tons of emissions.
The band and crew travel 899,525 passenger miles, creating another 1,182 metric tons of carbon.
Hotel rooms add up to 3,183 nights for band and crew, and cost 114 metric tons of carbon.
The 32 venues use 484,800 kilowatt hours of electricity, or 187 metric tons of carbon.
And then there are the fans, who are responsible for 2,339 metric tons, generated by car trips to and from the shows.
Calculating carbon emissions isn't pretty, Gossard said, but it has to be done. Sort of like cleaning out the bathroom drain, I thought. Once you do it, you do all you can to make sure it never gets that bad again.
"I'm trying to be a responsible business owner," Gossard said. "I've traveled enough to realize that there's not a lot of places that look like Washington state."
With this partnership, some sections of the state will stay just as they've always been: Green.
"We cannot allow the Puget Sound region to look like every other region in the world," Duvernoy said. "If we want to conserve what we have here, we have to live differently."
To that end, Pearl Jam is happy to share the stage with other businesses. It's not only rock 'n' roll, you know.
Nicole Brodeur's column appears Tuesday and Friday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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About Nicole Brodeur
My column is more a conversation with readers than a spouting of my own views. I like to think that, in writing, I lay down a bridge between readers and me. It is as much their space as mine. And it is a place to tell the stories that, otherwise, may not get into the paper.
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