One flippant remark to our editor Pete during lockdown, that’s all it took. I was simply telling him about my frustration with the COVID-19 pandemic putting climate change on the back burner (no pun intended). Seizing on this, he asked me to channel my thoughts into an article: what we could do as DJs, but also what we could do as consumers.
I’ll put my cards on the table. I’d been dreading writing this! Will the readers of a DJ magazine want to read something that has nothing to do with DJing? What if I come across as patronising or worse still ‘virtue signalling’? Years of trying to be an environmentally conscious consumer have made me aware that many of the eco-friendly purchase decisions I make sadly cost more than their mass-market equivalents. I’m sure the last thing a bunch of out-of-work DJs want is some do-gooder telling them to buy an electric van right now!
However, like many of you, in March 2020 the global pandemic robbed me of the job I love. If that wasn’t bad enough, as 2020 progressed, Mother Nature started to really stick her boot in. The US and Australia competed to see who could have the biggest forest fire. Brazil’s President Bolsonaro stuck up a middle finger to the world as he continued to plunder the Amazon. Temperatures soared, flash floods raged, and there were so many storms that authorities used up the official alphabetical list of hurricane names for the first time ever. As I write this, my radio has confirmed that 2020 was the joint warmest on record. Record breaking hasn’t been this bleak since Ed Sheeran occupied 9 places out of 10 in the UK singles chart back in 2016.
So what difference can one man make whilst watching the planet merrily skip towards hell in a handcart? Well, this one chose to dig a wildlife pond in his back garden. At least that’s precisely what I was doing when Pete rang me for a chat. I figured that I may not be in control of when I can get back to DJing, but I can try and make some positive changes to my life and to my environment, and boost my mental health while I’m at it.
My hope is that this article inspires you to make just a few small, positive changes. It’s based on both research and my first-hand experience going through these changes myself. I’ve laid out what I hope are some useful ways you can do just a little bit more for our planet.
Let’s start with my favourite subject, food! My family receive a weekly organic fruit and veg box from riverford.co.uk. One of the things I love about our regular box is how you can stay in touch with the changing seasons. We’ll get strawberries and raspberries in the summer months and in the winter months we’ll get cabbages, kale and Swiss chard. Because the produce is locally sourced, it has fewer air miles. Nothing comes wrapped in plastic and as it’s organic there are no nasty fertilisers.
In our house, we still eat meat, but probably no more than three times a week. I still love a bacon sandwich as much as the next man (so long as the next man isn’t Euan Bass or Tony Winyard) but embracing some meat-free days is better for your health and the environment.
I’ve never really considered the environmental impact of web hosting and the internet. All that data, all those servers whirring away. It all uses energy. However, there are green alternatives like kualo.co.uk, powered purely by renewable energy though planting trees, or buying carbon offsets to reduce the environmental cost of running your business. Most green companies cost the same or less than companies running servers using fossil fuels. As well as being good for the environment, moving your website over to green hosting can make great business sense too. Demonstrating your social responsibility by finding ways to go green could give you an advantage over your competition and help attract clients who themselves want to make greener choices when choosing their DJ.
Resist the Impulse
I’m sure we all have that little voice in our head that whispers to us about buying new DJ kit. Mine comes out to play every time I open the pages of Pro Mobile. He sidles up to me and seductively implores me to buy that new DJ controller. You know the one, it’s got all those extra features that I just know are going to make me a better DJ! I mean, just look at it, the saucy little minx with its shiny black platters, light up pads and all those buttons. It’s calling to me…I need it NOW!
A restricted DJ income certainly helps you to weigh up DJ purchases in the cold light of day, but there’s another compelling reason not to buy new gear as often.
Now, to be clear, I’m not saying you shouldn’t “Just Call Clive” or Mike at Phase One or any of our other lovely UK DJ retailers. It’s important we support them. But just go through a mental check list: Does my current kit need replacing or do I just crave that warm, fuzzy endorphin rush that buying new stuff gives me? What difference will this new mixer/speakers/lighting make to me and my business? Can I get another 6-12 months' life out of my current kit? If you can’t put off the purchase then consider whether you can buy second-hand instead of brand new. Many DJ retailers offer a great selection of ‘pre-loved’ kit and will even give you part-exchange on your old gear. Buying second-hand is good for the planet and your wallet.
Take it to the bank!
It’s no secret, banks have long been known for their unethical practices. They sit behind some of the most controversial industries in the world – from nuclear weapons to the exploration for new fossil fuels. Once we put money in our bank accounts, we tend to think that it just sits there until we spend it. But in fact, your hard-earned cash can be invested anywhere in the world, and not necessarily in ways we would approve of. Figures suggest that for every £100 you invest in the average high street bank, about £2 of that is lent to organisations linked to fossil fuels and other forms of environmental destruction. From UK fracking sites to coal mines in Colombia, many banks pursue profit at the expense of the climate. HSBC, Barclays and RBS are among the worst culprits.
However, there are alternatives. The most ethical banks not only prohibit the financing of dirty industries, they help fund the transition to a fairer, more sustainable economy. I’m just in the process of transferring my current account from NatWest to Triodos Bank (triodos.co.uk). Yes, there’s a small monthly charge for my banking, but I know my money will be financing ethical businesses – everything from green-energy projects to sustainable community-led housing. The bank switching process is now totally hassle free, so if you want to switch your account, then it’s easy enough to do online. Also check out ethicalconsumer.org to see how your bank ranks and find out more about green banking.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 106, Pages 54-57.