Updated: Apr 21, 2019
We need to ask the people in positions of power how they're incorporating sustainability into their practice.
While individual behaviour change is important as part of wider trends and shifts in society, the ability to make significant change depends on the participation and leadership of businesses and governments who have large footprints and wide influence.
In the theatre industry, the development of sustainable practice in large venues and theatres and venues is crucial for the greening of the industry. Thanks to the work of Julie's Bicycle and Creative Carbon Scotland, venues across the UK are doing fantastic work to reduce their environmental impact.
As a network of theatre makers striving for a greener theatre industry, finding out how favourite venues are working to improve their sustainable practice is a simple way to encourage change beyond your shows. Your questions could be the beginning of a venue's sustainability journey or the final nudge they need.
Whether you're performing at a venue or writing to your favourite theatre, here are five questions we think you should ask!
1. Is the venue using renewable energy suppliers?
The theatre industry uses a considerable amount of energy powering lights and sound systems. By signing up to energy suppliers that supports electricity produced from renewable sources (such as solar, wind or tidal), venues can significantly reduce their carbon emissions.
Learn more about renewable energy suppliers with Julie's Bicycle's factsheet.
2. Does the venue record and share its carbon footprint?
Measurement is the key to setting benchmarks against which to make change. Julie's Bicycle work with the Arts Council England on a portfolio of over 130 arts organisations, including National Theatre, HOME (Manchester), and the Young Vic. The portfolio organisations have reduced energy consumption by 23%, and as a result have reduced carbon emissions by 35% since the collaboration began in 2012.
3. Does the venue use sustainable couriers and transport?
Air pollution is an issue rising up the agenda, killing 7 million people globally each year. By using more sustainable courier services that use green transport, such as electric cars, bikes and ultra-low emission vehicles, theatres can reduce their carbon emissions, as well as any negative impact on the air around them.
4. Does the venue have clear and effective recycling bins?
Having separate bins for general waste and recyclables leads to better recycling rates. Making sure these bins are clearly (and if possibly, amusingly) labelled will encourage positive behaviour from theatre visitors.
5. Does the venue offer reusables in its bars and cafés?
Thanks to David Attenborough's Blue Planet II, plastic pollution has become the focal point of mainstream discourse around environmental issues. While it is important not to conflate the issue with climate change, it is significant issue, particularly as plastic is now found ubiquitously in our food chains.
By finding reusable alternatives to (or doing away completely with) the common offenders (e.g. plastic cups, straws and cutlery), venues can cut down on unnecessary plastics.