On-Set Sustainability… in the Time of Covid

This guest post is penned by Emellie O’Brien, Founder and CEO of Earth Angel Sustainable Production Services LLC:

It’s safe to say that everyone has had a very long and trying pandemic. The film and television industry is no exception, as you all know. Everyone had to rally to make their departments compliant with the ever-changing on-set COVID rules. This gave Earth Angel the opportunity to collect new tricks of the production sustainability trade while continuously adapting to the “new normal.” Here are our top five tips on how you can do the same:

5 On-Set Sustainability Tips in the Time of COVID-19

  1. Avoid Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles
    While one of our top priorities is always to avoid single-use plastic, we had to rethink our approach to ensure that keeping hydrated is also pandemic-safe.
    1. The first option is to use touchless water dispensers. After you advise your cast and crew to bring their reusable water bottles, everyone can use these dispensers to hydrate sustainably and keep their germs to themselves! We recommend Avalon or the WaterMonster hands-free dispensing kit.
    2. Another option when you really need a single-use alternative is to always have Mananalu Water available on set. It comes in aluminum bottles that are infinitely recyclable, rather than petroleum-based plastics (yuck)!
  2. Have a Foolproof PPE Recycling Set-Up
    In order to avoid the cast and crew’s instincts to throw out their PPE in the general trash when they switch it out or when they’re off for the day, put labeled PPE recycling bins at every waste station and ship your PPE waste to TerraCycle. You won’t regret putting extra time in now to save a lot of waste later.
  3. Green Your Lunch
    1. You can order in! Companies like Deliver Zero and Jybe partner with restaurants prioritizing eco-friendly materials. Yes, please!
    2. Another part of the “new normal” is not being able to eat together. But reusable dishware is still very much a safe and sustainable option, even in a pandemic! Unless explicitly marked sterile, disposable items inevitably have a certain level of bacterial contamination from passing through so many different hands. Disposable items are also more likely to be contaminated from a stranger’s cough than something you already own.
    3. If you do need disposable to-go containers for cast and crew, you’ll want to make sure that the containers are compostable and made out of fiber and bamboo. This is a surefire way to create a low impact lunch on set!
  4. Use Electric Generators
    By using an e-generator instead of a typical one, you’re not only reducing your carbon footprint, but you are also creating a safer space that is helping slow the spread of COVID-19. Since they generate electricity from battery storage rather than burning diesel fuel, this alone increases the surrounding air quality. COVID-19 rates are proven to be higher in places with poor air quality. This is another great way that productions can do their part to help end the pandemic.
  5. Go Paperless!
    We, of course, always recommend going paperless—for obvious reasons—but it’s even more convenient during these times. Here are some great options to avoid wasting paper and spreading germs:
    1. Scriptation is known for having useful tools and features for every production department. Whether you need to annotate scripts or do a file dump, it always comes in handy.
    2. ProductionPro is a great program to use for production collaboration that keeps everyone updated of script changes, schedule changes, and plenty more. There’s nothing better than having an update right in front of you instead of doing yet another re-print.
    3. TiM, a.k.a. Time is Money, is a program that will do a 180 to your crew onboarding paperwork process. Incredible! It comes with preexisting templates for your start paperwork (don’t worry—you can customize your own, too), you can speed up your approval pipeline, you’re able to track the status of everyone’s paperwork in one place, and many more time-saving features.

Now that you have more tools under your belt to improve your on-set sustainability, you can put them to good use and continue to help drive their importance on all of your productions.

Watch our Speaker Series panel on sustainable filmmaking, featuring Earth Angel’s Emellie O’Brien, Tandem Pictures CEO Julie Christeas, and Audrey Vinant-Tang, Senior Manager, Global Sourcing—Energy, ViacomCBS.
See environmental activist Jane Fonda‘s speech as she received the inaugural Jane Fonda Humanitarian Award at the 2021 WIF Honors, presented to her by RuPaul Charles.