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NLWA Wise up to Waste

Arcola Theatre (Hackney)

Arcola is an award-winning Off-West End theatre with a strong sustainability focus. In 2007, the organisation set out to be the world’s first carbon neutral theatre and has been working ever since to reduce its environmental footprint and engage people about how they can make sustainable changes in their lives.

Arcola has taken a number of steps to reduce waste in all its areas – the office, the café bar, the theatres and rehearsal spaces. These include:

  • Developing a set of ‘sustainable production’ guidelines for theatre companies with suggestions of how they can reduce waste in creating their productions, for example:

    • Sourcing props and sets through the set-exchange website, which is similar to networks like freecycle, where people post items for others to reuse.

    • Borrowing or hiring props and costumes rather than buying new each time

    • Using clean, untreated timber to build sets. Arcola’s heating system is run by a wood-fired boiler so any timber that can’t be reused in sets will be used to keep the building warm

  • In the office, setting double-sided printing as standard – even for scripts – has had a huge impact on the amount of paper used.

  • In 2011, Arcola switched to digital marketing – no longer posting out thousands of theatre brochures, many of which were returned through the post. This also increased their social media presence

  • The bar team has reusable bags on hand for daily purchases, such as milk and bread.

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