Theatre productions are a source of much harm to the planet. The amount of time, energy and materials to put on a single show is massive. A shockingly negative impact on the environment can be witnessed because of the costumes, lighting, scenery, marketing materials and travel considerations for audience after audience. So what can be done to reduce the harm?
- Engage everyone involved
Combine the efforts of everyone involved in the production to dedicate themselves to make sustainable choices that fit the artistic visualisation and budget, so that a show yields the least amount of emissions to the earth. Productions that have most successfully implemented new ways of sustainable working place the importance of environmental considerations on a par with artistic and financial decisions. For example, MacBeth, which featured James McAvoy, made use of costumes that were reclaimed, reused and recycled from army surplus suppliers, vintage and charity shops, undoubtedly saving money for the production and generating a sustainable option through cooperatively deciding to repurpose costumes.
- Reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle
By reducing the amount of finite or non-recyclable supplies, and by seeking to utilise materials that can be reused, you can recognise the opportunity to repurpose existing items to be remade anew. This guarantees that as much as possible is recycled, and a greener production can be realisable.
- Use and experiment with sustainable materials
In being creative with materials that one can use, the negative environmental impact of theatre productions can be reduced. Examples would be in understanding where materials are sourced, such as timber which is FSC-certified. This ensures it has been produced from sustainably managed stock. Manmade, petroleum-based products such as PVC tape and toxic finishes can be replaced with alternatives, such as Velcro, bungee cords, fabric ties, and natural lacquers.
- Be energy efficient
Energy is almost always a production’s largest controllable environmental impact. The largest energy impact in auditoriums is heat, which can be controlled by communicating with the building manager. By adjusting the building’s parameters, this allows for flexibility in temperature and natural ventilation. Additionally, with increased options for efficient and environmentally sustainable power suppliers, better choices can be made.
- Design energy efficient lighting rigs
By designing a lighting rig that uses every light purposefully, selecting the lowest wattage lamp and exploring low energy lighting such as LEDs, a more energy efficient production is attainable.
- Use rechargeable batteries
Rechargeable batteries are 32 times less damaging for the environment than disposables. This can save the production money and reduce the negative impact on the planet. Rechargeable batteries may be used in portable on-stage equipment and should always be recycled after use.
- Reduce transport
By combining deliveries, sourcing materials and equipment locally, using public transport, maximising occupancy in cars and vans and creating a set that fits into an economical space, particularly for touring productions, relative carbon emissions can be brought down.
- Recycle materials after the show
Recycle all sets, props and costumes after the show, utilising production waste services that don’t send waste to landfill sites and donating items to local organisations, schools and schemes. This develops a friendly relationship between the community and planet.
- Monitor your environmental impacts
By monitoring energy use, observing the carbon emission of key materials by utilising a production calculator and identifying where savings and further impacts can be reduced, production companies can continue to assist in the fight against the climate crisis.
- Talk about it
By telling your stories and ambitions to suppliers, artists, collaborators, funders and audiences, further ideas and encouragement to follow a greener production process will be obtained. Additionally, by spreading the word about ambitions to be more environmentally conscious, more productions will do the same. By urging audiences to act more sustainably and reduce their carbon footprint, they can travel greener and amplify and share your commitment to being an ecological production.
Ultimately, following the tips displayed in the eco advice above creates a more sustainable and eco friendly show. Hopefully, in implementing these practices, the theatre industry can revert its reputation for the negative impact it leaves upon the planet, so that it may become a standard for other industries to follow.