It’s nice and all that, that award shows such as the Golden Globes and the Oscars are serving plant-based foods and forgoing plastic water bottles, but it’s on the sets of films where the movie industry can actually make a big environmental impact.
After all, producing a film is akin to a military operation with hundreds of people under a run-and-gun mentality, where every minute costs thousands of dollars. With all that pressure and motion and noise, thinking about how on-set decisions can negatively impact the environment often isn’t a priority for the crew. But that’s starting to change.
In Brooklyn, for instance, there is an on-set consulting group called Earth Angel, which assists film crews in making sustainable film production. They meet with production teams before filming begins and advise them on building sustainability into the bottom line. Using LED lights, electric-powered/gas-free generators, and streamlining transportation logistics can curtail fuel costs and carbon emissions.
According to Earth Angel’s 2019 impact statement, they have so far diverted 927 tons of material from landfills. Sets working with Earth Angel averaged a 73% diversion rate, with 91% their current highwater mark. 46,732 meals have made it to local food banks, the recycled paper saved 161 trees and avoided using 513,616 single-use plastic water bottles. Not only is Earth Angel sparing the environment, but it’s also saving money.
Industry-wide cooperation and standards for sustainable film production will be needed to make a true dent in Hollywood’s carbon footprint. The Producers Guild of America offers a Green Production Guide, which Earth Angel consulted on. Using the guide, studios are working together to optimize and spread green set practices. Together, they can leverage their buying power to shift the industry and make sustainability the standard.