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Sustainable Music From The Forest To The Stage

LoggingDeforestation harms communities, ecosystems, and the planet. (Photo: geograph.org.uk)

There are many things you may personally know and love about your guitar, from the sound that it makes to the way it feels in your hands when you play. But if it is an acoustic guitar, what do you know about the wood that it’s made of? Illegally harvested wood in products that we use every day, including guitars or drumsticks, is a real problem.  That’s why some musicians are standing up and showing their commitment to the environment by saying ‘no’ to illegally sourced wood in instruments and other products.

The Barenaked Ladies, Guster, and Ben Folds Five are taking part in an eco-friendly music tour, “Last Summer on Earth,” sponsored by REVERB, a non-profit group dedicated to making these music tours more environmentally sustainable. These popular bands are using their platform to promote environmental causes, including curbing deforestation and stopping the illegal timber trade. They believe it is important for musicians to know where the wood in their instruments comes from because of the environmental implications of illegal logging and trade in illegally harvested wood.

Deforestation, for example, is a serious problem driven in part by the illegal timber trade. And although the U.S. government has a powerful law in place to help curb illegal logging and timber trading, the Lacey Act, trade in illegally harvested wood still occurs. These bands, with the support of groups like REVERB, the Sierra Club, and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), want to share with music fans the far-reaching power of the Lacey Act.

Efforts to combat trade in illegally harvested timber fit into the larger climate struggle, as trees are necessary to help stabilize our climate. The ability of the trees to transform carbon dioxide into oxygen may be one of our best defenses against climate chaos. Moreover, illegal logging also affects indigenous communities who strive to protect their lands from illegal encroachment. When loggers act illegally, our environment isn’t the only victim -- whole communities also suffer.

If you play the air guitar exclusively, this post may not be for you. But if you, your friend, or your child plays the viola, bass, acoustic guitar or another wood instrument, then REVERB, the Sierra Club, EIA, and bands like Barenaked Ladies, Guster and Ben Folds Five are all working toward a more sustainable and musical future for you.

Last Summer on Earth” launched today at the Verizon Center in Denver, CO and will run through July 30, 2013 where it will end in Brooklyn, NY. To find a concert near you, check out barenakedplanet.org.

--Kristen Elmore, Sierra Club media team intern

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