Billie Eilish is a Grammy-winning artist who has made lowering the environmental footprint of her music a top priority. This includes not flying private and prioritizing plant-based food and renewable energy at her concerts. In 2022, she launched “Overheated,” a climate action event which convened for the second time in August 2023 in London, bringing together youth activists, musicians, and designers on panels discussing how to tackle the climate crisis.
What is the single most important action you think the public, or a specific company or government, needs to take in the next year to advance the climate agenda?
It’s hard to pinpoint the single most important thing, because it’s all connected and all equally as important but the destructive impact of animal agriculture has not been front and center in most climate conversations, and it should be.
There’s also plenty of room for change in my own industry, by changing the current systems (that make it almost impossible for artists not to create waste) from production of product, touring, to photo and video shoots, artists have huge platforms and a lot of influence but it’s just as important for us and our teams to be reducing our own impact in every aspect of our careers where we can. This past year, working with my team, and the nonprofit REVERB, for the Music Decarbonization Project which I am a co-founder of, I was able to utilize solar-charged intelligent batteries to power my set at Lollapalooza. The zero-emissions battery system reduced the use of highly-polluting diesel generators—an industry standard power option—to provide stage power. The music industry must immediately adopt solutions like this and others that can rapidly reduce and ultimately eliminate our reliance on fossil fuels. And that extends beyond the stage to every aspect of music, from producing physical platforms like records, to creating sustainable or upcycled merch, to all the supply chains that are utilized within the music industry. When an industry as big, visible, and culturally important as music leads on climate action, others will follow.
What sustainability effort do you hope will gain popularity with the general public this year, and why?
Eating a plant based diet. Animal agriculture is one of the largest contributors to climate change, destruction of our oceans and loss of biodiversity and yet it is not talked about enough in climate conversations. One of the most impactful things an individual can do to reduce their impact on the environment is switch to a plant-based diet. Prioritizing plant-based over animal-based food products drives down greenhouse gas emissions related to raising livestock, reduces deforestation, and drastically cuts down the drain on natural resources needed to produce food. On my last world tour, we provided over 24,000 plant-based meals for our touring crew and also worked with venues to ensure plant-based options were available to fans. By making that shift, we estimate to have saved 8.8 million gallons of water, 240,000 square feet of forested land, 123 tonnes of CO2e, and over 8,000 animals. I know that not everyone can or will switch to a completely plant-based diet, but even incrementally reducing consumption of animal-derived food can have huge impacts on our planet. According to an NRDC study, if every person in the U.S. ate just ¼ lbs. less beef each week, it would be like removing 10 million cars from the road each year.
Where should climate activism go in the next year?
It’s important that we don’t separate “activists” from all who care about climate change and help make everyone feel that their actions matter, because they really do. We have to overcome apathy and hopelessness. At the same time, because it is an election year in the U.S., we have to focus on getting people to vote for candidates who make climate change their highest priority. That can make real change.
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