Published: September 28, 2019

The climate crisis: what pipers and drummers might do to help

Raising cane. [Photo: Pixabay]
Across the world, countries, cities and towns are participating in a global climate strike – galvanized by teen activist Greta Thunberg. pipes|drums works with facts, and the research of thousands of environmental scientists are facts.

Piping and drumming is a fun hobby, but we’re not exempt from playing a part, however small it might be, in being less-destructive to the environment.

Here are a few ideas on how we all might help to alleviate the crisis.

Play local, act global – cheaper and more convenient air travel has enabled pipers and drummers to literally fly in and out of pipe band practices and competitions. That has not only cost community-based pipe bands from being, well, community-based, it costs the environment. Rather than flying over or driving past the regional band’s practice hall, think about returning to play with your local pipe band.

Share a lift – it’s not a new idea: get together with band-members to carpool to practice. Not only is it less destructive to the environment. And non-UK bands should consider using a bus once or twice a year to travel to a contest, rather than a fleet of 30 cars consuming gas and money. All of this also builds camaraderie in the ranks.

Re-use – piping and drumming are not exempt from throw-away habits. That synthetic bag replaced by this year’s new and improved model shouldn’t be chucked in the rubbish. It’s useful for some other piper. Same with synthetic reeds. There’s a big market for secondhand gear, so make sure you’re not part of the single-use plastics problem.

Look for sustainable practices – whether it’s blackwood pipes or cane reeds or plastic chanters or brand new drums, get assurance from the manufacturers that they are sourcing from suppliers that use adhere to sustainable practices and environmentally sound systems. Confirm also that they are recycling or disposing of excess materials in an environmentally responsible manner.

Respect CITES – yes, it’s an inconvenience, and we often get in high dudgeon that our ivory-adorned drones should be sacred exemptions, but CITES is there to protect threatened and endangered species. There is merit to the argument that the simple display of ivory mounts or badger sporrans is implicitly condoning the exploitation of endangered animals.

Question your values – is it more satisfying to say you played with _____ band in Scotland for a year or two as a fly-in player, or that you were part of building long-term success locally? Are your goals more self-indulgence and personal conceit, or do they consider a bigger and more meaningful picture?

All of the preceding might seem like a whole lot of no-fun. It would be nice to continue our ways without consequence.

Even if you for some reason don’t accept the climate change reality, being environmentally considerate generally means you can conserve money, so what’s not to like?

The truth is that pipers and drummers can do our small part to be a little less damaging to the environment, while at the same time helping our own little world.

 


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