April cover guy Jason Mraz may be known for his musical talent (and now awesome LGBT activism!), but this superstar also has quite the green thumb. In this Instinct Web Exclusive, Jason talks about the inspiration behind his eco-consciousness, making changes on the most basic level and taking a little boat ride with a vice president.
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Where did your eco-consciousness come from?
I guess my eco-consciousness began at home. When I became a homeowner I now had my own little patch of earth to care for. I noticed the energy my house was consuming, I noticed how much garbage was going out on the curb, I noticed how much I was spending to keep the house going. That made me very, very aware of my impact on the planet because there was the planet in my own backyard. It was probably more difficult to see when I was a renter in an apartment; it wasn’t my piece of earth to care for. I was lucky to just make the rent! [Laughs]
So that really woke me up. And then I thought if I can do it, and maybe I can get my neighbors to do it, that’s how the world changes. I started to see how one person can impact the world—just by impacting one other person.
How do your feelings and commitment toward living a responsible life manifest itself, say on a daily basis?
I want to be responsible in how I show up in the world. I have my own canteen; it’s a very simple thing to do to eliminate single-use plastics. Also, being outspoken when I’m off stage and living by example when I’m on stage. We try and create a conscious tour: use as little plastic as possible, make merch that actually make a difference in the world, use bio-fuel in our busses when available.
I have a new little mission or mantra for my tours called “E I E I O.” Jason Mraz has a farm, E I E I O. Entertain. Inspire. Educate. I Am, which is give the audience a chance to see themselves. And OMG, this is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. [Laughs] So that’s my goal when I’m putting a tour together or being out in the world. Those are the five things I want to do as an artist.
And is that in part what led to the creation of the Jason Mraz Foundation?
When I first started the foundation, I didn’t have that one direct place to act as the roof, so at the moment I have these 8-10 rotating charities that I support who inspire the shit out of me, who have invited me to do great things, whether it’s volunteer one day with quads in the ocean or rescuing enslaved children in Gana or speaking at a Harvey Milk event or being down in the Gulf Oil spill and going to face-to-face with BP police. I couldn’t turn my back on any of those foundations to start my own, so in the meantime I wanted to continue to embrace those.
Jason in ancient Greek means healer. And I started to think about ancient Greek architecture and they would have this triangular roof tops with four pillars to hold the roof up. And in mythology the architecture represented the heavens and the pillars are what filtered down to the people. So I thought we’re going to have four pillars. It basically gives me an opportunity to embrace everything. [Laughs] But it’s centered around my four pillars of service: equality, arts & education, recovery & assistance and environment preservation.
Well you’ve clearly made an impact in your environmental activism, seeing as how you were invited to go to Antarctica with Vice President Gore, right?
Who is an awesome dude! An ass-kicking, awesome guy. We both were booked on The Tonight Show a couple of years ago and that’s when I met him. I was such a huge fan of An Inconvenient Truth and what he was an advocate for. So I introduced myself and told him I had written a few songs based on Inconvenient Truth And then I guess he saw me at the TED talks last year and thankfully through my hard-working management we stayed in touch. And when Al put this trip together to take 150 people to Antarctica to have an experience, see a part of the world that is rapidly changing and learn why, and then come back to our civilized worlds and do our best to reawaken us to the realities of climate change, he asked me to join.
The whole point is not to scare people that is this all doom and gloom. But let’s remind people to live responsibly. The environment is what supports us, so it’s important that we have a daily practice in supporting it. Whether it’s single-use plastics, how much energy we’re consuming and how much we’re throwing away—it’s such a huge, huge problem. It’s probably a hundred-year battle. So we may not get around to truly understanding all of this until the middle of this century, but to have the conversation right now about climate reality is an important piece of that. It’s going to take people before politics to get involved.
What was one of the more surprising things you took away from the trip?
I was already clued in to how the system works, so I wasn’t surprised by human’s impact on climate change. What surprised me on this trip is how little people want anything to do with that. It’s sexier to just keep living the way we’re living.
So what’s your advice on this Earth Day; where does one start if they want to be a part of the change to preserve our planet?
The practice of gratitude will take you to the next level. No matter what interests you have, what party you subscribe to, what practices you have in your life, two-to-three meals a day is what we all strive to do. We all sit down to eat because that’s our fuel. So if you can sit down and say, “thank you” before you eat, that will reprogram your DNA. By being conscious of your food and where it came from, or even just to acknowledge that a billion people today don’t have it, that will show up for you when you’re doing another task later. You’ll start asking where things came from or what it took to get there. So the practice of gratitude makes you more aware in general. The longer we live in gratitude, the easier we’ll be on each other and the earth.
For more on Jason’s foundation, visit here.
(Opening photo by Emily Shur; inset photo courtesy of jasonmraz.com)