Billie Eilish is fighting climate change with her “Happier Than Ever” world tour, which kicked off late last week.
The Grammy Award-winning musician announced last year that her 2022 tour would be climate positive. She performed the first show on a cold and rainy Thursday to a sold-out Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.
The coronavirus-delayed tour is Eilish’s first in two years and celebrates her chart-topping sophomore album of the same name, which was released last July. Twenty-four-year-old pop artist Dora Jar was originally booked as the opening act but came down with an illness just before the show. “Bone aching fever has just arrived, Covid is a sneaky devil,” she tweeted.
This led Eilish to start the show thirty minutes early, at 8:30 pm. Wearing one of her signature baggy outfits—a yellow t-shirt, shorts, and short black hair in pigtails—the 20-year-old singer emerged from beneath the stage to “Bury a Friend.”
Her brother, co-writer, and producer, Finneas, played keyboards, bass, and guitar throughout the 90-minute set. During her performance of “All the Good Girls Go to Hell,” footage of environmental disasters played on the screen behind Eilish, NOLA reports.
“I cried like five times in rehearsals,” she revealed after the song. “But it’s important that we see what the [censored] is going on.”
Billie Eilish is fighting climate change on tour
Eilish, who is notably outspoken on social justice and environmental issues, is partnering with the music-led environmental nonprofit REVERB to minimize the footprint of playing huge shows and traveling for months at a time with an entourage of crew and equipment.
REVERB’s “Music Climate Revolution” project aims to help bands reduce their environmental impact. It also helps them to educate and empower fans to take climate action, and partner with other music-related businesses and organizations to make the industry more sustainable.
All of the “Happier Than Ever” tour’s carbon emissions will be carefully calculated, from transportation to hotel stays, and then offset through the funding of “diverse global projects with a focus on frontline and BIPOC communities facing the worst effects of the climate crisis.”
At each of Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever” shows, REVERB will also set up an Eco-Village on the concourse for all ticket holders. Each village offers custom reusable bottles in exchange for donations. Free water refill stations will encourage reuse and discourage disposables.
Fans can meet groups doing important community work, connect with HeadCount to fight ongoing voter suppression in the U.S., and test their climate knowledge with a quiz designed by REVERB. Those who take action at the Eco-Village can also enter a prize draw to win a signature Billie Eilish x Fender ukulele signed by the artist herself.
“I’m thrilled to work with REVERB to make climate action part of my tour and everything I do,” said Eilish in a press release for the Music Climate Revolution. “We face a climate emergency, and we all have a responsibility to spread that call to action.”
Plant-based food, compostable containers, and recycling
According to REVERB, other efforts include priced-matched plant-based food and drink options at all venues, as well as plant-based catering for everyone on the tour.
Support + Feed, a plant-based nonprofit fighting food insecurity, will also be in attendance at each Billie Eilish show. The organization was notably founded by Maggie Baird, an actor and the mother of Eilish and Finneas.
Reusable or compostable bottles, service ware, and utensils in catering and on buses, plentiful water refill stations, excess food donations, excess toiletry donations, recycling, composting, and battery reclamation will all help to trim the astronomical quantity of waste typically produced by a tour of this size.
Bands such as Coldplay and Massive Attack are also exploring this issue, while musicians including Brittany Howard, Jack Johnson, Jason Isbell, Maroon 5, The 1975, The Lumineers, and Shawn Mendes have all signed up to REVERB’s Music Climate Revolution.
During her sold-out show at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena on Saturday, the performer paused the show after noticing an audience member struggling to breathe. Eilish paused the show, to ask: Do you need an inhaler?” She picked back up after giving the fan a moment to recover.