Many DJs jet-set around the world on private planes on a weekly basis to play out sets at a a near-endless array of nightclubs and festivals. Some fly private planes only. Some of the biggest stars even own their own jets. After landing wherever their booking has brought them, they hop a car back to the airport, fly somewhere else in the world, hop another car, then do it all over again, and again, and again. Their professions rely on relentless travel and accordingly, they have a larger carbon footprint than that of many us civilians.
A rather unlikely Brooklyn-based DJ, producer, and saxophone player—Sammy Bananas—is trying to balance the carbon scales for himself and his peers. He founded DJs for Climate Action (formally DJ's Against Climate Change) in 2008 with the goal of using the cultural weight of DJs as a tool to to not only raise awareness of climate change as a whole, but to actually raise money for environmental causes.
"DJ4CA flips the negative stereotype of DJ globe-trotting excess into a teaching tool," Bananas tells THUMP. "We fly a lot so we are using that fact to mobilize for good. In December each of us take stock of our travel that year and offset its negative effects by donating to climate conscious projects. Last year we raised over $4,000 for a group that builds energy-efficient stoves in Kenya."
In addition to his label boss A-Track, Bananas's group includes artists like Louisahhh!!!,Thugfucker, and Wax Motif, all of whom take their copius air miles and apply them to various relief organizations that work in trauma situations after climate change-related natural disasters. Last month, Soul Clap headlined the group's first ever showcase at SXSW, marking a new era for the group as it shifts into events designed to raise money and awareness of the impact that drastic weather has around the world.
"People usually think about sea-level and temperature rise first, but increased storm severity is one of the most damaging effects of climate change, particularly impacting areas of the developing world," Bananas explains. "The main goal of our annual drive is to assist individuals as well as the environment. Back in 2013 we decided to raise money for relief in the Philippines from Typhoon Haiyan, the most catastrophic storm that area has ever seen."
For Earth Day, the group will be take part in the #ClimateChangeIsReal social media campaign, being pushed by everyone from President Obama, to Flying Lotus, Richard Branson, and beyond. We asked its members to talk about why they got involved and what climate change means to them.
There are consequences for all of our actions, good and bad, and it would be hypocritical to travel around the world trying to spread good vibes through music and parties while at the same time not take responsibility for the massive amount of carbon emissions it takes to get us to all these places and to put on these events. We hope by lending our small voice to the voices of all those around us, collectively we can help move the conversation forward and create more pressure overall to deal with these urgent matters.
ELI AKA BAMBOOZLE of SOUL CLAP
As DJ4CA has grown over the last couple years I've stayed in contact with Sammy B and helped spread the word to other socially conscious DJs. I also played at and helped promote our first event at SXSW this year.
"It seems quite obvious that climate change is negatively affecting the majority of living creatures on the planet and as I am a living creature that happens to be a DJ, it would make sense to involve myself with DJ4CA. Because of constant touring (and hence, air travel), many members of the dance music community are leaving a massive carbon footprint that I believe is our responsibility to offset as best we can, in this case, raising money and awareness. I'm excited to be a part of a community that is conscientious of the impact we have on the world around us and also part of the effort to make our time on this planet count for something good."
Where I'm from (Vancouver, BC) the first thing visitors always notice is the beauty of our natural geography, from the Rockies to the ocean. But in fact, we have hundreds of species on the endangered list increasing every year due to climate change caused by humans. That's why initiatives like DJs for Climate Action are so important to bring awareness to.
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