50 Things You Can Do Towards Being a Green Theater

This is just a beginning!

In the Office

If you have meters, monitor building energy usage and set goals for using less.

If you do not have meters, investigate what it would take to get them installed.

Use paper with as large a percentage of recycled content as possible—preferably in post consumer waste–for all printed material as well as programs and posters. (We had to order some just for our department)

Use soy inks when possible.

Print on both sides of the paper.

Print on white paper.

Use paper products (TP, tissues) with recycled content

Use more energy efficient lights and turn them off when not in room.

Install light sensors where feasible.

Recycle office paper–putting container in prominent location helps.

Recycle bottles and cans.

Encourage staff to bring reusable tableware. (You may want to make room for them so they can live at work.)

Use green cleaning products. (no ammonia, bleach or harsh chemicals)

Turn off computers when you go home.

Install plumbing fixtures that reduce water usage.

Sell Travel Mugs with your theater logo. See if you can strike a deal with the cafeteria to give students a beverage discount for using their mugs.

Send audition materials electronically.

Don’t print out your e-mails—archive them electronically.


Design smart—design for the elements you need

Inspect your facility for proper ventilation

Design for disassembly (less glue, more screws)

Reframe from cutting lumber that could be used uncut need (10 foot tall flats instead of 9)

Use non-toxic paints

Reuse sets—plan season around the set. (The diner set could be used in Bus Stop and The Spitfire Grill)

Use modular sets

Investigate local industries to see if there is a market for wood waste (for example for press logs or hog fuel.)

Stop using foam


More renting and thrift- shopping for costumes.

Make mock-ups from thrift-shop sheets rather than new muslin.

Use sustainable fabrics such as hemp, bamboo, organic cotton, wool.

Less dying and less toxic dyes when you do.

Less or no bleaching fabrics

Less or no hair dye.

Buy only non-toxic makeup.

Use only pump hairsprays.

Dry clean less. Build less than needs dry cleaning and use woolite or shampoo when possible as an alternative to dry cleaning.

Investigate local industries to see if there is a market for fabric waste (quilters?)


Use compact fluorescents in lobby, or new LED technology.

Use reusable/washable utensils and cups.

Make aprons out of sustainable fabrics.

Buy local foods, organic when possible.

Buy organic coffee.

Ban styrofoam.

Plant water efficient landscaping.

For Education

Let the public know what you are doing… Publish a sustainability mission statement on your website or brochures.

Put in the program and posters “printed on recycled paper” if you are able to do so.

Keep MSDS sheets on all chemicals used in all of your shops in binders in each shop–make sure everyone know where they are.

Print in your student handbooks sustainability goals.

Educate staff—Buy books for the department (Greening Up Our Houses by Larry K. Field and Theresa May, The Health and Safety Guide for Film, TV and Theater by Monona Rossol, Brilliant: Shuji Nakamura and the Revolution in Lighting Technology by Bob Johnstone.)

Have think tank sessions to think of your own ways to increase your department’s sustainability.