Sustainable Musicians of Tomorrow: How to Make Your Merch Eco Friendly - Stereo Stickman

Sustainable Musicians of Tomorrow: How to Make Your Merch Eco Friendly


Whispers of Climate Change have echoed through our lives for many decades now, only those whispers have ultimately become more like thunderous shouts – the sound of one more life-shattering crisis impacting yet another corner of our world.

We’ve shunned it for too long, we’ve over-played the ‘doing my part’ card when sorting out the recycling each week – there’s no way forward now without a complete revamping of how we run things. Fortunately, many experts appear to agree, there’s still time to make that happen.

So, for the musicians, artists, promoters, music fans and gig-goers – what can we do to re-set and drastically decrease the 540,000 tons of carbon emissions the music industry creates every single year?

As part of our new Sustainable Musicians of Tomorrow Series, we’ll be exploring precisely that. And this week, we’re talking about Merchandise.

The music industry has its own crisis – we’re well aware. Venues are closing at an unprecedented rate, indie artists are struggling to make ends meet (what else is new?). Merchandise is one of the only sure-fire ways to not only make money as a modern artist, but to represent your brand and have fans celebrate and share in their love of what you do. We’re not suggesting you stop with the merch – just like we’re not suggesting you stop with the music. The real question is: How can we put on shows, how can we create and sell merch, that has little to no carbon footprint?

Revolutionizing your merchandise for sustainability requires more than just checking a box. There are plenty of experts working hard to help festivals, artists and promoters all contribute towards a greener industry. Organisations like AGF, Music Declares Emergency and Music Sustainability are just some of the professional options worth exploring. In the meantime, here are some actionable tips to help transform your merch game while minimizing your environmental footprint:

  • Do Your Homework: Embrace sustainability as a journey, an ongoing lifestyle change. Seek out sustainable materials and practices for your merchandise and share your findings with fellow artists. Collaboration and knowledge-sharing are key.

  • Choose Sustainable Materials: Work closely with your merch company to source certified organic cotton, recycled fabrics, or alternative sustainable fibers like bamboo or hemp. Look for printers and manufacturers with eco-friendly policies and renewable energy sources.

  • Engage Your Fans: Don’t shy away from the cost of sustainable merchandise. Instead, ask your fans if they’re willing to pay a bit extra for a product they can feel good about. Educate them on why sustainable options may cost more initially, but emphasize the long-term benefits for the planet.

  • Opt for Planet-Friendly Decoration: Say goodbye to toxic, oil-based inks. Explore water-based and vegan ink options like Permaset Aqua, which offer vibrant colors without harming the environment.

  • Ditch Plastic Packaging: Eliminate plastic bags and opt for eco-friendly alternatives like recycled card bellybands to wrap individual merch items. Not only is it more sustainable, but it adds a personal touch to your merchandise.

  • Prioritize Local Manufacturing: Minimize transport emissions by manufacturing your merchandise as locally as possible. Ensure that every step of the supply chain, from production to distribution, prioritizes renewable energy sources.

  • Quality Over Quantity: Consider reducing the variety of merchandise items to focus on quality, long-lasting products. Explain to fans why you’re making this choice and highlight the environmental benefits.

  • Promote Longevity: Design merchandise that stands the test of time. Educate fans on proper garment care to extend the lifespan of their purchases. Sustainable fashion is achievable when clothing is made to last.

  • Eco-Friendly E-commerce: Partner with e-commerce operations that prioritize renewable energy and plastic-free packaging for all shipments. Offset shipping emissions with tree planting initiatives, but vet tree planting partners carefully to ensure genuine environmental impact.

By implementing these tips, you can transform your merchandise into a sustainable and eco-conscious extension of your brand, while inspiring your fans to join you on the journey towards a greener future.

Music is life – art is wonder – music uplifts & relieves us of the weight of our daily world. We need that escapism, that connection & unity, more than ever. And we count, we matter; we’re part of this natural world too. We just need to think about the future now with every creative step we take.

Header Photo by vitalina.

Rebecca Cullen

Founder & Editor

Founder, Editor, Musician & MA Songwriter

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