Childsplay Theater’s Sustainability Survey Notes & an invitation

Thank you to the 40 theatres that participated in Childsplay’s sustainable materials survey. Here are the results:

  • The majority of respondents (20 theatres) purchase 100-500 sheets of luan plywood per year…that’s roughly 75,000 linear feet of wood that is sourced primarily from tropical rain forests.  If only 20 theatres are using 75,000 linear feet, imagine how much our entire industry consumes on an annual basis!
  • 58% of participants throw away most or all of their scenic material at strike.  At our summit, most shops estimated filling at least one large container per strike…added together, that’s quite a landfill.
  • Not surprisingly, the most common reasons for not saving materials are lack of storage space and the labor costs associated with dismantling/moving materials.
  • Of those theatres that send materials to external recyclers, steel and aluminum are far and away the most common choices.  Steel and wood are the materials most frequently saved for re-use.
  • 30% of participants are already researching or implementing “green” material alternatives: using MDF in place of luan wherever possible, looking for less toxic materials, etc.
  • 66% of participants report re-using at least some stock pieces.
  • 50% of participants would be willing to budget 5-10% more to purchase sustainable materials.
  • 55% of participants would partner with other theatres for bulk purchasing of sustainable materials; another 42% would consider it for specific projects.
  • Less than 20% of participants recycle wood during a strike.  There is a common mis-perception that the wood and steel from flats or other structures cannot be recycled unless they are dismantled and stripped of hardware.  We learned from a regional recycler that not only could we recycle our flats without completely dismantling them. Paint and fasteners were also not an issue for recycling. These are new developments (at least in AZ) that have occurred within the last three years. Many recyclers will actually send a container to your site, reducing both labor and transportation costs.

Since sending you the survey, we have made a contact at a bamboo product manufacturer who is willing to take a look at our needs for the luan replacement.

On February 26th, we held our first sustainability summit. You can read about our first meeting at the TCG blog:http://aha.tcg.org/2010/03/welcome-to-first-sustainable-stagecraft.html
Childsplay will be recycling or keeping the majority (if not all) of the scenery from our final show of the season. I’ll report back to you all about how stage-to-recycling goes at the end of May.
And finally, we have two more days of sustainability meetings coming up in May. We will explore the production process from the initial idea stage through opening night. The focus will be on opportunities for open and synergistic communication between production staff and designers.
anthony runfola
production manager | childsplay
480.921.5721 (o) | 480.921.5777 (f)
Sybil B. Harrington Campus for Imagination and Wonder at Mitchell Park
900 S. Mitchell Dr., Tempe, Arizona 85281
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