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Sustainability is a Team Sport

April 22, 2024
5 min read

April is Earth Month, which is the perfect time to reflect on ways we can better help the planet, and think about the impact of choices we make in our industry.

Idling vans, powerful generators, air-polluting flights by the dozen, wasteful prop materials, and massive amounts of food waste on set are some of the topics that are starting to come into conversation when we think about sustainability in film production. There’s surely A LOT to think about and reconsider. While we wait for studios to adopt change, we’re excited to see a growing movement of crew members, producers, and film professionals making impactful choices.

Since sustainability is just starting to come into focus in our industry in recent years, there’s a feeling of the playbook and process being written as we go along. We believe in leaning into that feeling, and like many other areas of our industry, treating the process of making sustainable choices as an act of creativity. This means sometimes figuring things out on our own, not being afraid to try something new, using the awesome resources emerging from organizations like Green the Bid, and exchanging ideas and success stories with our peers and fellow professionals.

In that spirit, we’d love to share some of the solves we’ve made this year to make our sets a little bit greener. We welcome you to keep these ideas in your back pocket for future productions!

Challenge: When plane travel is a must….

Hometeam is built on a global model that enables us to avoid plane travel and local transportation by working with local filmmakers and crews, no matter where we’re filming. This approach has saved us roughly saved 84.9 metric tons of CO2 in 2024. In some situations, though, flying people is essential to the project’s success - a recent example of this is “Climb Higher” for Robinson Helicopter Company, a global docu-series, in which we filmed three different episodes in three different countries. While we were able to crew up locally, the Director and DP for the project would need to be traveled, as well as clients. Hometeam EPs, Jason Oppliger and Jen Brown began to brainstorm ways that we could neutralize the long flights from LA and NYC to Australia and Brazil. That’s when they came across the company Gold Standard.

Gold Standard is a not-for-profit organization that manages “the world’s leading carbon and sustainable development standard, enabling the accurate measurement of the impact, both for carbon credits and other financial tools.” Through Gold Standard, Jen was able to purchase carbon credits for all of the international flight travel incurred during production. These high-integrity carbon credits allowed us to take responsibility for emissions, and while emissions can’t be eliminated, purchasing credits enabled us to offset the metric tons emitted by contributing to a net zero ambition. What’s even more amazing about Gold Standard is that the credits go beyond reducing carbon emissions and directly benefit communities that need it most. When you purchase credits, you’re able to intentionally select where you’d like your impact to be focused, for example, you can contribute to a cleaner and safer water initiative in Cambodia, a wind power project in India, and a safe water project in Uganda that promotes and implements gender equality practices in the community, to name a few.

We recommend including the costs of purchasing carbon credits in your bids whenever possible and explaining the positive impact of these credits to clients. You can use this guide here to estimate how many credits you’d need to purchase to offset your travel.

Challenge: Can we be more ethical about our crafty choices without sacrificing production time?

While crafty might not make the top five list of sustainability issues in our industry, it’s definitely one of the biggest eye sores on set, and contributors to food waste. We’ve all seen our share of half-filled plastic water bottles, food wrappers on the floor and especially in a post covid world, more individually packaged snacks than ever before. Single use plastics have got to go!

As the person who typically builds our crafty lists, I started thinking about how we can solve these pain points. I also started to reflect on the household brands we were “curating” and had a sneaking suspicion that while they’re tasty and easy to find at any supermarket - they probably weren’t sustainable. I was right… but the reality is not every shoot has a Whole Foods nearby and I didn’t want to source any product that would slow down a fast-moving production timeline.

That’s when I did a deep dive on Amazon and was surprised to find some really useful resources for sourcing sustainable snacks - from there, the Climate Friendly Crafty List was formed. This list is entirely sourced through Amazon, which means no supermarket runs. I used the “Climate Friendly” search function to filter results that meet various sustainability certifications. There’s a healthy list of sustainability certifications that Amazon has either created or partnered with and that list can be found here. While Amazon does use ground and air travel, we recommend using carbon credits and bundling deliveries/purchasing bulk orders whenever possible.

Some of the certifications that are covered in our crafty list include:

  1. Compact by Design (Amazon-developed Certification) products have reduced water and/or air in the product or packaging for more efficient transportation.
  2. Fair Trade Certified  products are made according to standards that promote safety, sustainability, and empowerment in the workplace.
  3. The Forest Stewardship Council certified products support responsible forestry, helping keep forests healthy for future generations.

By using this list, we’re able to avoid plastic water bottles and cutlery, reduce the volume of food packaging, and support brands that are making a positive impact on the environment.

We encourage you to check out our Climate Friendly Crafty List and try it out on your next production!

Do you have a sustainable solution you’ve implemented? Let us know! We’d love to keep the conversation going. After all, sustainability is a team sport and the more we share and exchange ideas, the more we can collectively make a positive impact on production and the planet.

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