13 Ways Clarinetists Can Become More Eco-Friendly

We live on a wonderful planet filled with awe-inspiring nature, people, and of course…music!

You don’t have to play a green clarinet to be more environmentally conscious!

Here are a few ways clarinetists and musicians can be more eco-friendly as you share your music with the world:

  1. Recycle your reed cases. If you use reeds that come in plastic reed sleeves, make sure you are recycling the cases! One of the reasons I love Vandoren reeds is that you can recycle the reed cases, so you can play on great reeds without guilt. (If you’re not ready to get rid of the reed cases, here are some ways you can upcycle your old reed cases if you want to get creative.) If you have a clarinet or saxophone studio, teach your students the importance of recycling by providing a box for them to put their old reed cases for you to collect and recycle.
  2. Consider switching to vegan clarinet products. I’ve been an avid vegetarian for over 15 years, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I even considered animal products on my clarinet! If you’d like to switch to vegan products, research alternative cases, pads, ligatures, and other clarinet components to use.
  3. Forgo plastic cotton swabs. One of my clarinet essentials is cotton swabs, which I use to remove water from tenons, clean tone holes, and a multitude of other uses. But many brands use unnecessary plastic, so find some which offer more eco-friendly materials, such as bamboo.
  4. Use eco-friendly toothbrushes. You should always brush your teeth before playing clarinet, but make sure your toothbrush isn’t made of plastic or any other harmful material to the environment. Bamboo toothbrushes are a great alternative. Be sure not to run water while you’re brushing your teeth to maximize your eco-friendliness.
  5. Choose your pencils wisely. Which is more eco-friendly – wooden or mechanical pencils? That depends on how you use (and reuse) them. If you opt for mechanical pencils, make sure that they’re recyclable and that you reuse them as long as possible. Wooden pencils cut down on plastic…but can also contribute to deforestation. If you opt for wood, check out some sustainable options, such as pencil planters which contain seeds for you to plant after you’ve used the pencil.
  6. Use reusable bags when purchasing music or accessories. This is more of a general lifestyle suggestion, but it applies to music purchases too. Many music stores still use plastic bags, so carry around bags to use for all your cool purchases (music or otherwise). You can even rep your favorite musicians, groups, or companies if you have their tote bags.
  7. Use tablets and avoid unnecessary photocopies. Save paper by performing off your tablet. Many sheet music publishers are getting high-tech and will allow you to download music, which also saves on packaging and shipping waste. If you still prefer to use physical scores, avoid making an unnecessary copies of the music. (Copying music hurts the music publishing industry and is usually a breach of copyright law anyway, so this is a win-win!) Studio teachers should also be careful to limit handouts during lessons or masterclasses.
  8. Replace batteries with adapters and chargers. Batteries are harmful to the environment, so consider omitting or replacing any products which use batteries from your practice room, such as tuners, metronomes, and recording devices.
  9. Use natural light while practicing. As much as possible, practice near windows or other natural light sources to save electricity. If you do use lights, make sure they’re energy efficient and you remember to turn them off before leaving the room (even during quick breaks!).
  10. Carpool to rehearsals. One of the joys of being a musician is hanging out with all your cool musician friends! Talk to your fellow musicians about carpooling to rehearsals and performances. If you live in a city with public transportation options likes buses or subways, consider using these more frequently. If you live close to the venue, you could even bike there to get in an added workout.
  11. Buy a reusable water bottle. Water is essential to life – and to reeds and musicians! Avoid using single-use plastic bottles and invest in a leak-proof reusable water bottle. (Bonus points if you make the switch to coffee or tea tumblers too!)
  12. Reevaluate your performance wardrobe. Fast fashion may be trendy, but it’s not so good for the environment. When it’s time to buy some new concert clothes, consider purchasing from sustainable and ethical retailers.
  13. Buy (or sell) digital tickets. If you’re attending or hosting a concert, go paperless by offering digital tickets.

Together, we can continue to make a difference – both in music and the environment! What other suggestions do you practice to lead a more eco-friendly lifestyle as a musician?

3 thoughts on “13 Ways Clarinetists Can Become More Eco-Friendly

  1. >Copying music hurts the music publishing industry and is usually a breach of copyright law anyway
    Music publishing industry has hurt itself beyond repair anyway, why bother? 😉
    Selling public domain pieces at a price that can buy you a week’s supply of hard drugs on the black market is not even ethically questionable. Print on demand costs the same whether it’s a Twilight fanfic or a symphony, there’s no justification.
    Selling still copyrighted music at even higher prices, but how much of it goes into supporting young composers,?

    What we need is a coordinated community effort towards actually digitizing classical music: not scanning, but typesetting in an open, machine-readable format that can be automatically transposed for different instruments so that no one has to buy dead tree copies of it to begin with.

    Right now I’m liberating Kapralova’s Military Sinfonietta that is now public domain but no digital versions exist, so I had to buy it from the Czech Radio Archive and they don’t even sell parts, just the conductor’s score.

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