If not us, who? If not now, when?

The pile of garbage bags grows as we’re about to wrap out on another Bay Area “low-budget feature for festivals.” Somewhere a P.A. waits for instructions on where to take it. I have to admit, I did ask for it: “I’ll do the recycling.” I sift through garbage removing water bottles and soda cans. I post signs: “This is Garbage,” and “This is Recycling.” It takes seven days to break a habit. This two-week feature gives me hope.

Most of us do it at home anyway: Separating out bottles, cans, plastic and cardboard. Yeah, we’re busy making a movie and we’re on the run. With nine cast members and 15 to 20 crew coming and going, that’s a lot of cases of soda cans and water bottles. No more excuses. Here are a few simple things production managers can do to reduce their carbon footprint on a movie set:

BYOWB: Bring your own water bottles and refill them from five-gallon portables, or better yet, use the tap. If it’s vitamin water you want, add instant vitamin powder. There’s an added benefit to this eco-friendly practice: Cash savings. If you just can’t switch to BYOWB then put a permanent marker next to the water bottles and have everyone put their names on the bottles they’ve opened so they can finish them.

ELIMINATE STYROFOAM: Just don’t buy it. Get it off the set—period. Instruct craft services and catering to purchase biodegradable and high-content, post-consumer recycled paper products. Apart from keeping this obnoxious and toxic material out of the landfill, your coffee flavor won’t be spoiled by melting styrene (which, by the way, is a known carcinogen). Or, add a crate of ceramic mugs to the craft list and have a P.A. take the cups home and run them through the dishwasher. Take it a step further by asking staff to bring a coffee mug. It’s not that hard to put a coffee mug in your backpack. By the way, if you’re going to shoot up in Portland, Oregon, anytime soon, you’ll have to do all this—it’s the law. There’s no Styrofoam in Multnomah County, by voter approval quite awhile ago. Just for fun, do an Internet search for “banned Styrofoam,” and you’ll find a host of communities getting rid of it.

PRINT BACK TO BACK:Just do it, whenever possible, and use soy-based inks. And make it high-percentage, post-consumer, recycled paper. Use those one-sided drafts your friends marked up to print the shot logs, call sheets, strip boards and contact sheets whenever possible.

POWER DOWN: Turn the power off at meal breaks whenever possible.

EAT LOWER ON THE FOOD CHAIN:Go veggie whenever possible.

WORK WITH ECO-FRIENDLY COMPANIES: Utilize businesses and suppliers that support energy savings, and hotels, that support sustainable laundry practices.

CHANGE A BULB: Replace incandescent bulbs with high-efficiency ones wherever you can.

CARPOOL: Carpool, carpool, carpool to the location, location, location.

RECHARGE YOURSELF: Two simple words: Rechargeable batteries. Get rid of the disposables. They’re not—and they’re toxic.

RECYCLE OLD BATTERIES: Put a bag or a box next to the bottle and can bin and make a sign for battery recycling.

GO DIGITAL: Many of us have already made the jump to HD, bypassing all those nasty polluting, chemicals from traditional moviemaking from the last century.

Sure, it’s asking a lot, but we really can make a difference with every choice we make, so be part of the solution. Someone is going to be inconvenienced by it and complain, but these are the kinds of changes necessary if we’re going to save the planet.

And by all means, add to this list. Start with cardboard, battery, bottle and can recycling and see where else you can go with it. It’s a start. Reducing our carbon footprint can easily translate into our working environment.

For more information on ordering and pricing out biodegradable food service products, visit:


Hester Schell is a staff writer at Bay Area Casting News, and worked on the feature Truth, shot in Half Moon Bay, California in February 2008. She can be reached at {encode=”[email protected]” title=”[email protected]”}.