Recycling is, let’s be honest, not the most rock’n’roll subject matter. It’s not something which you expect protest songs to be written about and it would surely inspire fits of boredom if even an arch-pontificator like Bono were to start speechifying about it from his stadium pulpit.
It is, in a day to day sense, something anathema to popular music, a medium very much focused on the present moment and which makes little concession to forward planning or to fostering a sense of civic responsibility.
Yet as those of us who are grown-up enough to have our own front door and a red box to put next to it should know, sorting your bottles and cans gets to be an obsession after a while, especially when you come to think of it as your own small contribution to battling floods and hurricanes. Despite the best efforts of Radiohead to inaugurate green touring (no plastics, no air freight, all biofuels) around the time of In Rainbows and attempts by some festivals to clean up their act (is a cash deposit for a beer cup an incentive when the drinker is too drunk to stand?), there’s not a lot the average music fan can do to make their hobby any friendlier to the environment.
Fellow red box owners might, then, find ourselves drawn to the concept behind Make Noise, a national club tour starring Radio 1 DJ Benji B and Scots electro-indie outfit Conquering Animal Sound, which comes to the Sub Club in Glasgow tonight. There’s no entry fee – instead, customers are asked to donate a small, recyclable electrical item they no longer need to get in, and for every piece handed in five pounds will go to a nominated local studio for new equipment.
“It’s a fun way of getting the message out,” says Carl Gosling of Heavenly, who are programming and organising the tour. “People can bring anything from a couple of batteries upwards, although a lot of them try to outdo one another with more and more outlandish items. It’s important that we’re talking to a young audience with disposable income, who are the kind of people who get drawn into the annual mobile phone upgrade or having the latest console.”
“The old stories about fridge mountains are no longer true,” Says Scott Butler of the tour’s co-producers ERP (Electronic Recycling Platform), a European agency formed by the electronics industry to help meet their end-of-life recycling obligations. “The UK recycles close to half a million tons of electrical products every year, and we’re getting better at capturing it. The area that’s most challenging, though, is the smaller stuff that gets lost in a drawer or will fit in a bin.” These parties, he says, see lots of old Nokia phones, MP3 player speaker sets, torches and digital cameras handed over, all of which still have a value to somebody – including those getting to have a great night out in return.
• The Make Noise Electronic Recycling Tour is at the Sub Club, Glasgow, tonight, with Benji B, Conquering Animal Sound and Martelo. www.facebook.com/makenoiseuk.