Sustainable thinking must be a core part of every theatre-makers’ toolkit. 
Can we reuse this prop / piece of furniture?
Is it financially sensible to break this item and replace it with new every performance?
Should we send our set to landfill after the show?
If we buy this cheap equipment, we can just throw it out and buy a new one when it breaks – that’s OK isn’t it? 

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A Practical Guide to Greener Theatre
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Sustainability Ideas

Electrical efficiency

  • Power off the lighting rig when it’s not being used (particularly moving lights)
  • Investigate lower-wattage light sources (e.g. LED) for backstage working lights, 
  • Replace high wattage tungsten halogen lanterns with LED equivalents
  • Replace moving lights with LED equivalents
  • Talk to building managers about replacing light fittings around the theatre with more energy-efficient sources.
  • Use occupancy sensors in dressing rooms and toilets etc. to turn off lighting when the room is empty. Do not use these in any areas used for performance unless you can override them!

Reduce Wastage

  • Ensure spare catered food is saved and distributed to local shelters
  • Use cable ramps or rubber mats to replace large quantities of gaffer tape to hold cables down
  • Donate unwanted gel to local play schemes
  • Reuse or Recycle unwanted set / props, or set up a local scheme to store set & prop items for reuse by other companies
  • Use secondhand costumes and props rather than buying new
  • Store costumes and props carefully so that they’re in good condition when you use them again and again.
  • Design modular scenery that can be reused repeatedly (by repainting or recovering). 
  • Avoid printed materials (posters / flyers) and use social media. At Fringe Festivals where flyering is a big part of the marketing plan of many groups, use photo opportunities, QR codes on clothing etc and encourage passers-by to take a photo of you to remind them about the show rather than taking a flyer. Use recycled paper and non-glossy recyclable card for flyers if you need to print them.

Reduce Plastics

Bungee Cord - Cable Ties
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Resuable Black Cable Straps
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  • Reusable water bottles can be refilled hundreds of times, to reduce plastic bottle use
  • Don’t use plastic straws – metal, paper or bamboo straws are available
  • Avoid glitter (a harmful microplastic) in prop-making or make-up.  
  • Reusable bungee cords, rubber ties or short lengths of tie line or rope can replace PVC tape on lighting rigs or for coiling cables
  • Velcro cable ties can be permanently fixed to cables to remove PVC tape use


See also

Save Stage Lighting (2018)


BBC Low Energy Lighting Guidelines (September 2011)
[8.37Mb PDF]

LSI: Julies Bicycle (March 2011)
[External Website]
From Lighting & Sound International

LSI: Greening Up Your Act (August 2010)
[External Website]
From Lighting & Sound International

ETNow - Hall for Cornwall Goes Green (May 2011)
[External Website]
From ETNow

ETNow - Royal Court Liverpool to save energy (September 2017)
[External Website]
From ETNow

LSI - Green Talk (October 2021)
[External Website]
From Lighting & Sound International

Yungblud (April 2023)
[External Website]
From Lighting & Sound International

LSI: Recycle Paths (October 2023)
[External Website]
From Lighting & Sound International

LSI: Clean Up Your Act (December 2023)
[External Website]
From Lighting & Sound International

Green Growth (April 2024)
[External Website]
From Lighting & Sound International

Talking Sustainability (May 2024)
[External Website]
From Lighting & Sound International


Sustainable Theatre Companies


External Links


Arcola Theatre


Kirei ECHOPanel sustainable acoustic panel [USA]


GreenClover (formerly Scenery Salvage) Recycle your scenic waste instead of chucking it out! [UK]
Ready, Set, Recycle Props, Set, Equipment [USA]
ReSet - An Encore for your production [USA]
Set Exchange [UK]


Albert Sustainable TV Production [UK]
Broadway Green Alliance
Entertaining Sustainability (website unavailable) Practical Advice [UK]
Green Production Guide (Film) [USA]
Green Shoot Film & TV sustainability
Green Theatre London, September 2008
Interview - Paule Constable (Staging Change)
ISO20121 Event Management Sustainability Standard
Julie's Bicycle Sustaining Creativity [UK]
Roadies to the Rescue - Sustainable Gig Ideas
Staging Change Network [UK]
Sustainable Production Toolkit
The Sustainability in Production Alliance [UK]
Theatre Green Book
Tips for Green, More Sustainable Shows The Guardian, 29 January 2014 [UK]
Vision2025 Sustainability for Outdoor Shows


Sustainable Design - Julies Bicycle Live Design