Okay, so it wasn’t exactly with Dave Matthews, but it was his initiative at his concert – that’s close, right? My friend Kathy found out about this great program called So Much to Save, where fans can volunteer to collect recycling from DMB concert goers and then get free admission to the show. This past Saturday, Kathy, Dave, and I spent four hours digging through garbage, being hugged by strange people, getting beer offers, and receiving almost all gratitude from the concert goers tailing-gating in the parking lot. In all, we collected over 30 very full bags of recycling, and it was great – really great.

The program is part of DMB’s (didn’t know that acronym before the show, but it sure is faster than typing out Dave Matthews Band every time) Bama Green Project, which includes all of the “green” things the band does from using biodiesel in tour buses to trying to have local, organic food backstage at shows. Some fans were a bit confused that “Bama” might have something to do with Obama, but it doesn’t – Bana is just the goofy band name for various things, like the Bama riff, which was written in, that’s right, “Alabama.”

I have to say that I was impressed by several things through this process. First, I was blown away that a band would be trying so hard to offset their carbon footprint from a tour. (Note, there may be some link between the start of these efforts five years ago and the band’s well-publicized incident with garbage, a tour bus, and the river, but in any event, if that’s the case, the band has more than made up for that moment of stupidity.) Second, I was very awed in two ways by the fans themselves – first, most of them were very excited about the program and dug through trash or held out cans to recycle when we came by again; and secondly, because some people (a clear minority but still) seemed almost hostile to the idea of recycling. I’m not sure where that second feeling comes from – maybe it was the “Bama”-Obama perceived link – but that people would be unwilling to recycle when we would take all the effort just baffles me. Finally, I was really blown away by how seriously I found myself taking this work. Still, three days later, when I see a can on the side of the road (and I see far too many), I want to pull over and pick it up. As we left the show after a great concert of killer jams and solos, the parking lot was full of recycling again, and I really wanted to stop and pick it all up. I don’t think I”ll ever again be able to just throw a can away if there’s not a recycling bin nearby; I should probably start carrying a little bag to store my recycling until I get home. I think I’ll do that.

So if you’re interested in recycling or in green living or in DMB, check out the Bama Green Project and get involved. You’ll be glad you did. And if you volunteer to recycling during tail-gating next year, be sure you’ll smell like beer for a couple of days but that you’ll be proud of the smell for once.