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Green Queen Billie Battles the Vinyl Wasteland



Billie Eilish, the chart-topping pop force known for her edgy style and environmental activism, is taking aim at the music industry's wasteful vinyl wars. "It's like The Hunger Games for vinyl!" Eilish exclaimed in a recent Billboard interview. She slammed the practice of artists releasing mountains of near-identical vinyl pressings just to boost sales figures.

"It's incredibly frustrating," said the 22-year-old singer who strives for sustainability throughout her career. "Here I am, bending over backwards to be eco-friendly, and you have these megastars dropping 40 different vinyl packages, each with some tiny tweak, just to make you buy more and more."

Eilish isn't pointing fingers in a vacuum. The Rolling Stones' 2023 album "Hackney Diamonds" boasted a whopping 43 variants, each with a different colored disc or artwork, but none with a different song. Similarly, Taylor Swift's upcoming album promises four colored vinyl editions, each with a unique bonus track — a tactic some fans see as blatant exploitation.

In contrast, Eilish's own 2021 album, "Happier Than Ever," offered four vinyl options. But here's the green twist: they were all made from recycled materials, with colored scraps for variants, and wrapped in sustainable sugarcane packaging. Most vinyl releases, on the other hand, rely on virgin plastic and wasteful single-use plastic wrapping.

"It's just maddening," Eilish said, "that some artists prioritize numbers and profits over the environment." She, along with her mother Maggie Baird, proposed a solution: limitations on vinyl variants. Baird suggested Billboard, the music industry's gatekeeper, could set a cap, "like no more than four colors. Some kind of rule, because you can't blame artists for playing the chart game."

Eilish's commitment to sustainability extends far beyond vinyl. She powers her festival sets with temporary solar farms, offers high-quality, long-lasting merchandise, and even convinces London's O2 Arena to serve plant-based food during her 2022 residency. Her influence even reached the world of fashion. At the 2021 Met Ball, she partnered with Oscar de la Renta to ditch fur in their designs. Collaborations with Nike and Gucci resulted in vegan alternatives to popular products.

Billie Eilish is proving that rocking out doesn't have to mean rocking the planet. Will the music industry listen to her pleas and break free from the wasteful vinyl cycle? Only time will tell, but one thing's for sure: the Green Queen is here to fight for a more sustainable sound.