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The Green Life: The Ultimate Summer Playlist

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June 20, 2013

The Ultimate Summer Playlist

Girls playing guitarSchool is out and the summer solstice has arrived, which means it's the perfect time to make a playlist to accompany your summer activities. Whether you listen while you exercise outdoors or use them to create an atmosphere for your lemonade stand, this list of songs from eco-artists will harmonize with all of your sizzling summer experiences.


“The Sound of Sunshine” by Michael Franti & Spearhead

Michael Franti, of the reggae fusion band Michael Franti & Spearhead, is quite the environmental activist. This vegan musician organized of the Power to the Peaceful Festival in 2010 where music merged with eco villages, green organizations, healing sanctuaries, and green food vendors. Additionally, recycling was encouraged everywhere on the festival site, no bottled water was sold, and his tour bus ran on biodiesel. Though none of his songs directly reference his passion for the environment, his music is very relaxing and it perfectly complements the feeling of soaking in the sun at the beach. Check out the video below.

“Agolo” by Angelique Kidjo

Angelique Kidjo was born in Benin and has won a Grammy for Best Contemporary World Music Album. As a Patron for the UN Music and Environment Initiative, Kidjo has released songs in support of environmental awareness and acted as an ambassador for LiveEarth. Her video for Agolo tackles environmental issues that played a part in the Seal the Deal campaign for the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009. Furthermore, she is active in raising awareness about women’s rights in Africa. This song is perfect for a stroll in summer heat with a delightful ice-cream treat.

“Prettiest Tree on the Mountain” by Ben Sollee

Singer/song-writer/cellist Ben Sollee, drummer Jordan Ellis, and tour manager Katie Benson are touring the US. . . on bikes. It’s called the Ditch the Van Tour. All three of these bold cyclists are carrying instruments and band merchandise on the back of their bikes. Ben Sollee is blogging about this experience on Treehugger and is heavily involved in the fight against mountaintop-removal strip mining in Appalachia. This love song to nature is the perfect tune to play while packing for the summer's hiking and camping trips.

“It’s Oh So Quiet” by Björk

Icelandic singer/songwriter Björk tends to stay out of political discussions but has decided to take a stand against spoiling Iceland’s natural environment. She has started the Nattura campaign which strives to skip an industrial revolution and go straight into using sustainable resources for energy and production. To further raise awareness about this cause, Björk has written an article in the Times and released a documentary in connection with her Nattura campaign. This fun, quirky song, though not about the environment, is a celebration of love and ease: perfect for some homemade lemonade.

“Radio Song” by Esperanza Spalding

Let’s face it: sometimes the summer isn’t all that enjoyable. For example, when the temperature is just way too high and you’re just trying to get home so you can be indoors. But the seemingly-infinite line of stationary cars in front of your EV won’t let you get there! This song is for that moment. It might help to keep in mind that Esperanza Spalding is all about the environment. She released a song called “Endangered Species,” from which all proceeds from this song go towards Earthjustice and Amazon Aid Foundation. As a teenager, she got involved with United Way and they hired her to work in Portland’s Forest Park. The artist is enthusiastic about taking care of the earth and the beautiful landscapes that come with it.


Want even more eco-tunes? Check out our list of the 28 best songs with environmental themes.

-Image by iStockphoro/llhedgehogll

Ailsa Sachdev is an editorial intern at Sierra. She is a rising senior at Mount Holyoke College and spent the last semester reporting on witchcraft in Morocco. She is passionate about food and travel, and knows "I'm hungry" in over 10 languages.


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