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4 simple tips to make your production sustainable

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Tackling sustainability can be a huge task. Here’s a few ways you can make an impact:

Throughout my 10 years of working within sustainability I have seen various changes in the working environment from the simple yet impactful reduction in plastic water bottle use through to the current shift towards sustainable power solutions. I remember the early conversations I had with HODs who didn’t understand why sustainability was applicable to them in their working life, let alone promoting it throughout their team. Nowadays, I get calls from the same HODs asking me what the gold standard is and how they can exceed it.

This cultural shift is a main factor in improving our industry in all facets of sustainability. We all have a part to play in moving our industry towards a sustainable future but sometimes this can feel like a mammoth task. Here are a few things you can do to help change the course of our industry:

1.   Speak about sustainability within your production

At the beginning of your employment with production you should ask about the sustainability intentions for the show. At first, this may be met with some quite blank expressions but the more we ask the more we sow the seed. Often I am asked to share sustainability plans with key Cast members and this tells the Producers and Production teams that key stakeholders will be keeping an eye on this – why can’t this be the same with HODs, Coordinators and all members of crew?

2.   Create a departmental sustainability plan and share with production

With more Producers and Production Managers taking a key interest in reducing a show’s carbon footprint, any departments taking an active approach to sustainability are going to be seen as more attractive. Think about areas of sustainability your department may have an impact on and look at ways to reduce these. Please get in touch with us for help putting something together and most importantly share this with key stakeholders and other crew members.

3.   Talk about waste

Look at the waste you produce and see how you can best deal with this. Think of the mantra reduce, re-use, recycle:

·        Reduce – Can you find ways of reducing what you are using? There is a tendency to over purchase when working on a production just to be sure (it isn’t your money after all!).

·        Re-use – Look at previous asset lists to see what might be waiting around for a new home, cross share materials and tools between departments and utilise redistribution services. 

·        Recycle – Commercial waste streams aren’t always the most reliable, so look for solutions that offer more specific waste streams. For bigger items, or the more bizarre items, look at donation options that may be available to you. When starting on a production make sure you ask for adequate recycling streams and try to find out what happens to your waste.

4.   Get your suppliers thinking

One of the best things we can do as buyers on production is to ask suppliers for their environmental policy or for their range of sustainable materials/items. They may not have any but by asking the question you are showing there is a market for this.

I want to do more, what’s left?

Some departments have created excellent sustainability guidelines, the Camera Branch with BECTU have created a useful guide for their department as well as the incredible work from Sinéad Kidao with the Costume Directory. These are both great examples of crew led sustainability wins and just show what a little extra work can accomplish. Why not think about creating a sustainability working group with other departmental colleagues on different shows, or look at crew led climate actions groups such as Cut It? Again, by working together we have a better chance of turning this mammoth ship!

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