Piuma's Climate-Friendly Record Journey

Happy World Environment Day! We're celebrating with an interview with the greenest Cali progressive rock band.

Piuma, a progressive rock band out of L.A., recently released their first vinyl record this past November. Piuma’s front man, David Small, has a long history of using music as a force for nature. As a film composer, he wrote music for Surfrider Foundation’s documentary trailer, The Twenty, which raised $80,000 to protect undeveloped Southern California coasts. He wanted to make sure that the Piuma record was made using the best environmental practices available, and then went a step above with carbon offsets.

Small has written a comprehensive article detailing the process he went through to produce this record in the most environmentally responsible manner. We’ll be putting it up on our Green Roster resource list so that other bands can learn from Small’s pioneering work. Check it out here: Making an Environmentally Friendly Vinyl Record.

Some highlights include:

  • Using renewable energy to power the studio (at only 3c per kW more than conventional energy!)
  • Partnering vinyl production manufacturers with TreePeople to offset carbon emissions by planting trees in Angeles National Forest.
  • Donating an additional $1 per record sale towards additional tree plantings. This means that Piuma will take out 600,000 pounds of carbon when all the physical records are sold.
  • Cutting down on packaging and using recycled papers.
  • Getting the records pressed at Record Technology, Inc, which recycles as much waste vinyl as possible.

In recognition of World Environment Day today, we got to hear from David Small himself about the process of producing such an eco-friendly record.

How receptive were the different production companies when you told them you wanted to do an eco-friendly vinyl release? Did any companies turn you away?

The manufacturing vendors were very receptive and supportive of the eco-vinyl release, especially Stoughton Printing who has been pioneering sustainable printing techniques for decades.  No companies turned me away; however it definitely took some follow up to get everyone on board with making a donation to offset their carbon output.   

For your next release, are there additional sustainability measures you want to take?

Yes.  I went back and forth about including shrink wrap on the compact discs and even though the plastic is recyclable and nominal; I was worried that people would spill drinks on CDs at shows and they would get scuffed up or look unprofessional without shrink wrap—and it was a hard decision for me to include the wrapping on the CDs.  Now that I have them, I really think the shrink wrap is unnecessary.  There is always a possibility they will get damaged, but the shrink wrap is mostly annoying to open and would only be necessary for an in-store placement—and all our placements in record stores are vinyl (which has a reusable outer sleeve). 

Have your audiences been supportive of your green efforts?

Absolutely!  I think there is a lot of overlap between people that love music and care about the environment—and one of my philosophies is doing what is in our power—and how that can inspire other people to do what is in their control.  I’ve been pretty blown away by the support of fans as we have been putting the record out into the world.

Would you say that most of the measures you took are accessible to emerging bands?

Yes.  One of the easiest things they can do is use the vendors I noted in the article, since I spent a great deal of time researching to find manufacturers that create really high quality products, but are also eco-conscious.  Another thing is that all the parts are local to Southern California, and need to be shipped to the pressing plant before being finally shipped to the ultimate destination; so that saves on shipping carbon output (as opposed to parts being shipped all across the country).  I don’t think the vendors would be interested in offsetting their power for every band—so I think that was something unique to this album, but if bands donate a small % of their revenue, they can at least go carbon neutral after some sales.   And the efficiency strategies, in terms of the packaging are pretty simple to utilize.  I don’t know how accessible green energy is for each city, but solar is becoming easier to acquire.  And if neither are possible, then that can be added to the offset tab. 

Watch a video of the manufacturing process of Piuma on vinyl, along with the Angeles National Forest reforestation work done to offset the record’s carbon emissions.

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