Today is World Earth Day. An Annual event marked by millions around the world to shine a light on the serious environmental problems we’re facing and to reflect on ways we can turn the tide and help reduce our carbon emissions.
We all have our part to play in this so we spoke to Will Townsend, co-creator of Anthropocene: The Human Era and co-director of GymJam about their commitment to a sustainable working model as well as what steps have been taken on their latest theatre project...
Hey, I’m Will and I’m here to walk you through a few reflections on how we approached sustainability on our latest project Anthropocene: The Human Era. Creating the show threw us significant challenges when considering how to make the project sustainable or at least as low-impact as possible on the environment. Not least, we were creating this show in the height of England’s third national lockdown in March 2021! Funnily enough though, the pandemic actually helped us to minimise our footprint and I think we could all take learnt behaviours from the pandemic forward into our fight against the Climate Emergency.
Think about it, we are used to minimising our travel now, when working in groups we bubble-up or find accommodation close to work, together, requiring us to eat together – further reducing travel and food delivery needs and quantities of waste. So the pandemic has forced us to adopt some pretty handy planet saving habits! Some examples of this on our project were in finding affordable accommodation to ‘bubble-up’ near the filming location at just 20 minutes away and we car-shared for the duration of the project. We fit the team of nine into two cars, minimising our fuel consumption. We had a small budget for food and we ate together as a group and bought in bulk, although much of this came wrapped in un-sustainable packaging we at least minimised our waste and recycled anything we could. You can’t always afford the eco-friendly solutions.
When it came to materials, we made it a priority to find second-hand props wherever possible. We recycled some props from previous productions where we could and then started to look elsewhere. There are a tonne of sites dedicated to recycling props and networks all over social media sites where you can call out for recycled materials or props. Search ‘Ecosia’ – a sustainable search engine – for recycled or secondhand props next time! This is not only good for your planet but good for your budget too! By the end of the project, the only new props we had to buy, was a snow globe, some Anusol (don’t ask..) and five large plastic sheets, which were all recycled at the end of the process.
Now, something a lot of people don’t think about is the equipment you use on theatre shows or films. Lights consume a huge amount of energy, and often dump a lot of that energy into wasted heat off the bulbs. So, we decided to use a rig entirely made up of LED lights, minimising our energy usage and maximising our efficiency. On top of this, all lights and other equipment were doused or switched off between intervals. We even managed to minimise our footprint one step further, by hiring the warehouse space we used for the show from a lighting company, so there were no transport emissions needed, they could just wheel the lights next door to us! Plus, the energy company they use sources it from sustainable sources.
These shifts in sourcing your projects needs have big impacts, energy usage, travel, materials and food are often the first things we try and find cheapest for any project. If you are smart, you can factor climate-friendly solutions into your budget and save money at the same time, but ideally we should all be applying climate solutions directly into our budgets.
There are so many small changes we can all start to make which will beneift our carbon footprint not to mention our budgets and our physical and mental well-being. A short checklist to start you off:
- Turn off lighting and equipment when you're not using them and consider using more sustainable light sources such as LEDs
- Try and book accomodation all together when working away or touring and share on things like travel, food and deliveries.
- Aim to find accomodation as near to suppliers and event or rehearsal space as possible.
- Recycle, reuse and reclaim, working in creative industries we're all capable of thinking of imaginative ways of sourcing things we need without having to buy everything brand new every time!
- Consider locations for shooting. Do you need to travel or could you find something that would work much closer to home?
- If office based, make sure screens are turned off overnight and not left on standby
- If you can walk or cycle to work then why not; better for the environment, cheaper, an easy way to build in your daily exercise and the perfect time to catch up on a new podcast and clear your mind for the day.
- Invest in an office kettle and proper cups. If everyone can have a coffee when they arrive you can immediately remove the need for 10 paper cups to end up in your office bin each day.
- Open windows and keep a jumper in work. Don't immediately reach for the heating, air con/controls to alter your workspace temperature.
If you have any thoughts or questions on how to improve your own sustainable working style we'd love to chat. Siimilarly if you've taken any other steps to reduce your environmental impact on an upcoming project we'd be really interested to hear about it. You can get in touch here
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