Away We Go on Our Green Journey

Greening Media from the Inside Out

In response to the climate crisis, media companies are taking great strides to green themselves from the inside out—greening production practices, content, and raising public awareness through public service announcements.

Focus Features and Big Beach’s Away We Go, directed by Academy Award–winner Sam Mendes (Revolutionary Road) and starring John Krasinski (The Office) and Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live), scheduled for release in June 2009, was the subject of a precedent-setting pilot project to develop a methodology to reduce environmental impacts from transportation, energy, waste management, and construction/set materials. The tips learned through the pilot project on how to green movie production are practices we can implement in our own offices and homes. The following is a short list of Away We Go successes that we can use in our homes and offices.

Find Creative Ways to Reduce Travel
Away We Go is about a couple going on a road trip across the US, calling for shoots in locations across the country. The script typically would call for filming in seven states, requiring hundreds of cast and crew members to fly all over the country. This traveling would result in additional costs, energy consumption and release of greenhouse gases. By seeking alternatives to travelling, the production team was able to limit filming to just three states. While not all industries will experience the same level of reduction in travel and associated savings as was experienced by the Away We Go crew, by using web and video conferencing and combining business trips, we can all work to reduce our miles traveled, greenhouse gas emissions, and save some money.

Drive Hybrid Vehicles and Car Pool when Travelling by Car
Hybrid cars were requested for all rental car reservations and driven for approximately forty-five percent of the rental car miles driven during the production. The production saved $15 to $41 in fuel cost for each hybrid rental. Personal transportation (i.e., home use) is responsible for thirty to fifty percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and fueling passenger cars accounts for more than one quarter of world oil consumption. By driving hybrid vehicles, taking public transportation, or participating in rideshares like GoLoco, we can all reduce fuel use and the impact on the environment.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The Away We Go set took great strides to reduce waste and recycle, achieving a waste diversion rate of 48.8 percent. One of the ways Away We Go reduced waste was by using reusable aluminum water bottles rather than using single use bottled water. By using reusable water canteens, the production team estimated that they prevented the circulation of 14,000 plastic water bottles over the course of the production. Recycling and using reusable grocery bags and water bottles are other everyday ways that production teams, businesses, and households can save money and the environment.

The production staff undertook many other initiatives to reduce and measure its environmental impact. To share lessons learned and to explore new opportunities, the Paley Center and the Producers Guild are cohosting a forum on April 21, Earth Day Eve, convening local vendors and major studios to share insight and discuss how the industry can forward the green production movement.

More information on the greening of Away We Go can be found at EarthMark/Green Media Solutions Report: Away We Go: A Pilot Study of Sustainable Film Production Practices.

(Pictured at right: Katie Carpenter, Green Media Solutions, moderator of our April 21 forum.)

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