This article is the first in a series exploring how different film production departments can implement sustainability practices. Follow the author of this article, Jasmine Alkire, or follow Prodigium Pictures’ Medium publication for more articles on how film productions can be more sustainable.
In the midst of a global pandemic, the usage of single-use plastics has drastically increased. c&en reported that plastic consumption had risen dramatically in the US since March 2020. Workplaces, including film sets, have cut eco-friendly practices for the sake of COVID-safety, and single-use food containers and disposable masks have become the norm.
Variety followed the making of the indie film, The Knocking, and reported that “the fun group hangs at craft services now consists of individually packaged lunches.” Single-use water bottles and individually packaged meals are just some of the preventable plastics that have unfortunately made a comeback over the past year. In efforts to stop the spread of COVID on sets, fewer water bottles are being finished in fear of drinking someone else’s bottle, and food packaging waste is filling landfills.
However, this does not have to be the case, and there are many ways to implement eco-friendly practices while still accounting for, or even improving, COVID safety protocols. Sustainability is about more than just recycling, and there are plenty of ways to continue to be mindful of sustainability while keeping your cast and crew safe.
Here are 5 ways you can introduce sustainability on-set in 2021:
1. Water Filter Attachments
Attaching water filters on sinks in production offices or on location reduces the need for plastic water bottles. Fewer plastic bottles also means fewer fossil fuels are used in the production of plastic bottles, according to Long’s Ecowater. Productions can choose to have water coolers or gallon water jug refill stations or attach Britta filtration systems to various sinks (both of which are also recyclable). Empty water jugs can be returned to the carrier source or can be recycled through programs such as TerraCycle.
2. Sustainable snacks/Choosing the Best Crafty
Having individually wrapped snacks is important on set for COVID-safety reasons, but that doesn’t mean you have to create more waste by doing so. Many companies have created sustainably produced snacks, such as Epic Provisions, Cliff Bars, Barnana, and Beanfields. Many of these snacks can be purchased in bulk as well. Alongside eco-friendly snack options, opting for more sustainable catering services can lead to a more energized crew and a lower impact on the climate. Choosing sustainable catering could mean choosing an option that minimizes or removes red meat, is locally produced, or is plant-based. There are usually local sustainable catering options available for all budgets, at least in major US cities.
3. Swapping Out Plastics
The styrofoam and plastics often used for crafty are not only harmful to our planet and ecosystems, but to the consumers as well. Even if ‘recycled’ properly, these toxic materials take lifetimes to break down. National Geographic reported that single-use utensils can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. Replacing styrofoam coffee cups with biodegradable options are more accessible than ever. Wooden and plant-based materials can decompose in less than 180 days, according to Biomass .
Here are some compostable disposable cutlery and takeaway container brands such as; WoodAble, Green Paper Products, and Good Start Packaging. If you are running short on time, there are compostable paper goods options at local retailers such as Target.
4. Recycling and Compost Bins
One of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is by recycling! Landfills are overcrowded, and while it may seem like a small contribution to prevent a plate or bottle from being thrown in the trash, recycling does help when done consistently. On busy sets especially, it’s important to have clear signage posted around waste, recycling, and if possible, compost bins. Pictures of what can go in each bin also helps ensure that waste is disposed of properly.
In the times of COVID, finding places to donate leftover food from crafty/meals may be harder to come by in many cities. Composting, on the other hand, is another great option. As mentioned above, having a designated bin for compost, particularly after meals, can help reduce waste. At the end of the day, your compost bin can be taken to local compost sites to help the vegetation of the area. Litterless and NY Gov are some great sources to find composting sites in LA and NY.
5. Reusable Bottles
Did you know that reusable bottles and mugs can actually improve COVID safety? From water bottles to coffee mugs, individual reusable canisters clearly marked with the user’s name are less likely to be mistaken as someone else’s drink than your average plastic water bottle or styrofoam coffee mug. Reusable canisters can also save your production a significant amount of money. According to an article in Film Independent, West Coast Chair of the PGA, Amanda Scarano Carter reported that a typical 60-day film shoot can save upwards of $6,000 just by eliminating plastic water bottles. Film Independent shared how this led to less waste and shown to save money on set.
As filmmakers, producers, and other film professionals, we can work together to make sustainability the new normal on film sets. Making the eco-friendly decision, and working with the right partners who prioritize sustainability (like Prodigium Pictures and many of our B-Corp peers) is a win-win situation. On-set sustainability is not just good for our planet, but for everyone’s health and safety on set as well.
Follow Prodigum Pictures for more insights on on-set sustainability, purpose-driven marketing, social impact entertainment, video production, and more! You can also visit our website www.prodigum-pictures.com to view our past work and learn more about our mission.