It’s never too late to create a more sustainable theatre. As Earth Day approaches, it’s the perfect time to think about your theatre’s environmental effect on your community – and the world at large. If you take a look at your day-to-day operations and general behaviors, there are sure to be a few places where some small adjustments will reap major rewards for the environment – and for you.

Whether you’re already an advocate for living greener or just curious about the concept, striving for greater sustainability is never a bad thing. On The Stage has compiled a list of strategies to help you run a greener theatre. 

Strategies for a More Sustainable Theatre 

If you’re unsure where to start toward sustainable theatre practices, try out a few (or all!) of these suggestions.

1. Partner with Local Vendors

Sourcing your materials, services, and equipment locally will benefit you and your community. From a sustainability standpoint, you reduce carbon emissions by combining deliveries and minimizing the number of cars and trucks on the road. 

Secondly, you’re infusing more money into your economy by staying local. Thirdly, you’re creating positive relationships with community partners, which can lead to sponsorships down the line.

2. Utilize Energy Efficient Technology  

While budget can always be a concern regarding technology upgrades, the consensus is that energy-efficient tech saves everyone money in the long run.

Lighting is typically a major energy sucker, but a few small changes can help the environment and bring down your utility bill in the meantime. Energy-efficient lighting like CFLs and LEDs is an excellent and easy switch, and you should also consider installing motion sensors in backstage and storage areas that are not frequently occupied.

Consider power strips for your office and backstage areas, and remind your team to always turn off lights, sound equipment, and air conditioning units at rehearsals end.

3. Reuse and Repurpose

Most thrifty theatremakers are already reusing and repurposing items between shows, but they may not realize how powerful an environmental impact that’s making.

Whether reupholstering furniture, repainting a prop, reworking a costume, or deconstructing a set piece to rebuild it again, make sure you’re throwing away as little as possible during your set strike

4. Go Paperless 

It’s no secret that paper is a major contributor to waste in virtually every industry. You can do your part by limiting its use as much as possible.

With online ticketing (more on that later), consider creating digital programs, marketing materials, schedules, posters, and the like. With most folks online and on their phones more than ever, you’ll save money in printing costs and help the environment – all while showcasing your work as consistently as you would with paper materials. 

5. Use Rechargeable Batteries

With the amount of tech a theatre uses, you’re sure to use a lot of batteries. So why not invest in rechargeable batteries to save money, reduce hassle, and be a little more sustainable instead? 

After all, rechargeable batteries are 32 times less harmful to the environment than disposables and can save money compared to regular disposable batteries. Use rechargeables for portable on-stage equipment, and always recycle batteries after use. 

6. Encourage Carpooling 

Reducing cars on the road is a major way to make a powerful environmental impact on your community. But how do you do it?

Firstly, encourage carpooling within your theatre’s ecosystem itself. For actors and crew members who live close by, ask them to ride together to rehearsals. This fosters cast bonding and gives you a sustainable practice to implement. 

For audience members, suggest public transport to visit the show, with an incentive – like a free small popcorn with proof of a train/bus receipt. If you have the budget, you can also rent buses to pick up patrons from schools, retirement homes, or other popular spots around town. 

7. Recycle and Donate 

While reusing and repurposing costumes, props, and set pieces is always the goal, sometimes that’s just not possible. But before you head to the dumpster, consider whether the item you’re about to throw away could be recycled or donated to someone who needs it.

Consider utilizing a production waste service that recycles materials rather than sending waste to landfills. You can also partner with local nonprofits or donation centers to ensure that your efforts benefit the less fortunate in your community. 

8. Prioritize Sustainable Theatre Materials 

While it will take a little extra effort, being resourceful and purposeful about the types of materials you’re using will make a major difference in the environment.

Consider where the items you’re buying are sourced—are they local or from a reputable business? Avoid man-made petroleum-based products and opt for sustainable materials like Velcro, bungee cords, or fabric ties. When choosing paint, try to find water-based options that have low volatile organic compounds.

Sustainable materials don’t stop within the theatre itself. When selling concessions, opt for reusable plastic cups, containers, and the like. Also, encourage patrons to bring back the materials when they’re finished. Eradicating the need for single-use plastic in the theatre is paramount to greater sustainability, after all. 

9. Take Care of Your Items

This behavior change requires nothing except a little effort. The better you treat your equipment, the longer it will last and the better it will run.

So, don’t forget to clean filters, perform general upkeep, and only run equipment when necessary. This increases efficiency, reduces costs, and lowers the use of fossil fuels. 

10. Offer Theatre Streaming and Virtual Events 

Offering patrons virtual streaming options has a variety of benefits. From a sustainability perspective, it decreases cars on the road and eliminates the potential waste another in-person patron can bring to a theatre. 

Streaming also creates accessibility and inclusivity for patrons who may be far away, immunocompromised, or unable to make a trip to your theatre. 

11. Utilize On The Stage’s Online Ticketing Platform 

As we mentioned, going paperless at your theatre is a great way to become more sustainable, but navigating digital ticketing platforms can be tough without some help. 

That’s where the On The Stage (OTS) Online Ticketing Platform comes in. Elevate your patron experience, streamline your box office process, and simplify ticket sales with our comprehensive booking, box office, and front-of-house suite of tools. With our tools, you can: 

  • Simplify ticket sales with flexible ticket types, promo codes, subscriptions/flex passes, and entirely digital ticketing
  • Increase conversion rates by 35% and provide a best-in-class user experience with a robust ticket widget embedded direction on your site
  • Elevate your patron experience with accurate seating charts, ticket scanning, mobile-friendly e-tickets, promo codes, and expedited entry times
  • Streamline your processes by managing all your box office needs in one consolidated portal

Even more, OTS’ digital ticket scanning speeds up the arrival process, professionalizes the patron experience, protects your ticket sales, drives more revenue for your organization, and eliminates the need for pesky paper! 

So what are you waiting for? Partner with On The Stage today to begin your journey towards a more sustainable future!

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