Production can be a wasteful industry with a big carbon footprint - think entire set builds sent to landfill after a week, energy-hungry equipment, reliance on paper printouts, countless air and road miles, and plastic bottles a-plenty.
This is where Jo Coombes, our Head of Production and AdGreen founder, wants to make a difference, with a vision of a more sustainable future for advertising production.
In 2014, Jo launched industry-wide sustainability initiative AdGreen, and thereafter has campaigned tirelessly to support the advertising world’s transition to environmentally sustainable production methods.
Frustrated by what she was seeing on set as a production manager: masses of waste, catering on polystyrene plates, and entire set builds being thrown in skips; she decided to do something about it, and AdGreen is now the go-to resource for anyone working in advertising production.
Here, we chat with Jo about what sustainable production means to her.
How did your interest in sustainability begin?
As a kid, my dad called me Sting’s right-hand man because I was always telling people to cycle and passionately embracing my school’s recycling initiatives. In the industry, I was affected after seeing the amount of waste produced on-set firsthand.
I spoke to Aaron Matthews, BAFTA’s sustainability advisor, and he told me what they were doing over at Albert. I was so impressed that I immediately wanted to adapt the initiative for adland. Of course, the pace of change is never as fast as you want it to be - there's still a lot of work to do!
What does a sustainable production look like?
The most sustainable production is one that has reduced carbon emissions as much as possible, be that via reducing waste, energy or fuel use, and then offsets only what is absolutely unavoidable.
How are you implementing sustainable practices at a service production company?
It’s fantastic to be able to support the production team as we grow in keeping the carbon cost of our projects low.
In terms of waste and energy use, we're reducing our impact by making small changes on set, supporting sustainable suppliers and measuring our carbon footprint to see where our biggest issues are.
Looking to the future - we are thinking big by looking at everything from offsetting carbon emissions from travel to utilising renewable energy sources on set and in the office - we are starting to adopt the zero-waste and carbon-neutral mindset.
What are the top five easy ways that people working in production can make things more sustainable on set?
1. Go Paperless | Use digital devices to send and display call sheets, scripts, invoices, casting docs, schedules and storyboards.
2. Ditch Polystyrene and Correx | Use Locamats or Ram Board instead of Correx protective flooring, and source reusable or compostable plates, cups and cutlery for catering.
3. Reduce Water Bottles | Hire or buy table-top water coolers and encourage everyone on the call sheet to bring a reusable bottle, or provide your own.
4. Rehome Your Leftovers | Donate leftover food to a local shelter or charity like City Harvest, and donate props and costumes to other charities in need (full list of charity and recycling suggestions here - everything from textiles to lightbulbs)
5. Recycle & Compost | Organise accessible food waste and recycling facilities on set, and use companies like Quantum Waste to collect all of your recyclable and compostable waste.
Find out more about making your next production eco-friendly using the fantastic free resources available from AdGreen, and catch up on Jo's writeup of the most recent AdGreen Green Production Get Together, put together in collaboration with Albert.
You can buy the Pitch Fanzine Cannes Special featuring more on Jo here.
Say hello to Jo - firstname.lastname@example.org