Careful and creative planning can reduce set-related waste dramatically. Design and build with strike and wrap in mind. Set up all construction and shop spaces with detailed waste management systems, and make sure the waste hauler is tracking landfill waste versus recycling.
- Begin discussing sustainability methods early.
- Remember the four “r”s: Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle.
- Design for disassembly, so that sets can be easily repurposed and materials easily recovered.
- Incorporate salvaged materials.
- Coordinate the design and shoot schedule to allow for reuse of set walls, platforms and lighting grids.
- Think of wrap during prep, and line up schools, theaters or arts organizations to take donations of used sets and materials.
- Use reclaimed or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood.
- If FSC-certified products are unavailable, look for farmed maple and birch.
- Avoid luan, a term for plywood products made from imported tropical hardwoods.
- Avoid plywood and particleboard, which typically contain formaldehyde-based adhesives and can release harmful vapors at room temperature.
- Take the pressure off of over-harvested species like mahogany by choosing wood alternatives such as sorghum, bamboo or palm and less popular species like sweetgum, madrone and California oak.
- Repurpose wood sets and set dressing when possible.
- When possible, use steel scaffolding instead of wood for platforms.
- Designate an area for wood scraps, and check the pile before using new materials.
- Recycle any wood scraps that cannot be donated, or hire a wood chipper to convert wood waste into garden mulch.
- Use no-VOC or low-VOC paints, sealants and lacquers.
- Look for paints certified by Green Seal or other such organizations
- Avoid spray paint.
- Use plant‐based paint strippers.
- Buy gallon cans made from recyclable steel instead of plastic five gallon buckets.
- Use leftover paint from previous productions as primer.
- Consolidate like colors of unused paint, clearly label the cans and donate them or use them on a future production.
- Run rollers and brushes over a sheet of cardboard to remove excess paint, and store them in plastic bags between use.
- Never rinse excess paint down the drain. Start an “excess paint” bucket to be disposed of as hazardous waste.
- Dry out and recycle empty paint cans.
- Dispose of used paint supplies including brushes, rags, and containers, as hazardous waste.
OTHER MATERIALS & SUPPLIES
- Whenever possible, rent instead of building or purchasing a structure.
- Source building materials locally.
- Choose biodegradable materials, such as canvas, paper, wood and cardboard, and materials with high percentages of recycled content.
- Look for sustainably produced materials, such as bamboo, cork, and Homasote.
- Avoid products containing the following ingredients:
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
- Phthalate plasticizers (often referred to as “fragrances” on product labels)
- Brominated flame retardants (when possible)
- Chromate copper arsenate
- Use no-VOC or low-VOC and solvent-free caulk and adhesives.
- Look for water-based glues like Elmer’s or Sobo.
- Use solvent-free butcher’s wax.
- Choose a slower setting joint compound, like Murco 100, to avoid harsh solvents and preservatives.
- Use rags instead of paper, and rinse and reuse them as much as possible before discarding.
- Shut off the power, HVAC, catwalk, house lights and all appliances when not in use.
- Allow rechargeable batteries to fully drain before recharging.
- Use screws, instead of nails or glue, so that construction materials can be easily salvaged.
- Recycle metal, carpet, polystyrene, pallet wrap, sash and non-rechargeable batteries.
Download a PDF copy of the Set Design, Construction & Scenic Best Practices.