7 Tips for a More Sustainable Production

Author Jennie Robson

From assembling elaborate sets to feeding hungry crews, few adverts are made without a great deal of energy and carbon intensive resources being allocated across the production process. As a result, we’re becoming increasingly aware of the urgent need to make our production practices more sustainable. 

Though we’re not going to save the world overnight (if only…), there are many small steps we can all make to help mitigate the environmental impacts of creating video content, and now is the time to start promoting more sustainable behaviours. Here are seven key ways your production can start to make a noticeable change. 

      1 – Awareness

Developing a real understanding of the factors that will impact emissions from a production is one of the best places to start if you’re looking to promote real change. For example, the recently launched AdGreen Carbon Calculator allows you to determine the carbon footprint of your shoot, for free, and see where practical changes can be made. We’ve been making a number of hugely positive changes across our shoots recently, inspired by AdGreen’s insightful training and resources!

     2 – Transport

Most often, reducing a production’s transport needs will have the most significant environmental impact. Sourcing crew locally can make an enormous difference as opposed to flying people in from different cities, and using trains or arranging car-shares (Covid-19 permitting) can all have a really positive effect on overall emissions.

     3 – Catering 

Earlier this year, we decided to operate our first ever meat-free shootmaking a noticeable change on set that would signal our desire to do better. By simply going veggie on this one job (offering meat-free breakfast and lunch for 32 people per day, for 2 days), we removed 4+ tonnes of CO2 from our overall footprint. To put this into perspective, approximately 5.5 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) are emitted per person on a return flight from London to San Francisco, and since this shoot, we’ve never looked back.

Discussing with caterers if seasonal, local produce can be sourced where possible can also have a hugely significant impact. 

     4 – Waste

We always encourage our crew to bring their own water bottles and coffee cups, which is an easy way to reduce the amount of unnecessary single use plastic on a shoot. It’s also important to plan your waste disposal responsibly and have designated recycling bins visible for everyone, to save on the amount going to landfill. 

Additionally, if you’re producing content in Scotland then Vegware’s Close the Loop system is definitely worth looking into. Vegware takes clients’ used Vegware and food waste for commercial composting, and in under 12 weeks catering ‘waste’ is turned into high-grade compost that helps feed future crops.

     5 – Props & Sets

Another hugely important way to reduce the environmental impact of your production is to source and dispose of props and sets with sustainability in mind. When you’re finished a shoot, certain left-over props can be donated to charity shops or schools for instance, rather than being sent to land-fill.  

     6 – In the Office

As standard, try going digital where possible to reduce unnecessary printouts. This is important both on shoot days and in pre production, and can be easy to implement once all crew have been made aware. Sourcing sustainable suppliers wherever possible for office stationery can also really enhance your green credentials.

     7 – Engagement 

Finally, speak to your team. With climate anxiety also becoming an increasingly pressing issue now, it’s important to remember that there is only so much you can do as an individual. Improving the environmental impacts of a production has to be a team effort, and there are many hugely important aspects you can influence by simply having a conversation with your team, crew and suppliers. 

No production will be perfect, but small changes really do make tangible differences and can inspire further positive change to protect our planet.

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