It’s been a few years since I made the commitment to run our company as green as possible. It might seem contradictory – a technology company can’t be environmentally conscious, can it? Here’s just some of what we do to increase responsibility and decrease footprint.
1. Update equipment slowly.
One of the first things I noticed when I started this company, is the relentless pressure to constantly upgrade equipment. Camera companies market small differences as if they were major. Competitors and peers ask you, “Did you get that new product yet?”. And clients ask for broadcast quality even when their projects will never appear on television.
In order to reduce our use of limited resources and to be less wasteful overall, we use all equipment for at least 2 years before even considering an upgrade. I prioritize investment in crew over gear and quality of work over cost of materials.
2. Reuse and recycle old gear.
When it’s time to buy a new camera or computer, we find a local educational program or aspiring filmmaker to donate old equipment to. We also hold onto some items that can be upcycled into new uses. Many new field monitors run off of old camera batteries, for example.
3. Rechargeable batteries everywhere.
Speaking of batteries, we use a lot of them. When I first started in the business almost 30 years ago, it was common practice to simply trash every battery at the end of the day, even if it had been used for only a few minutes. Those batteries are still sitting in landfills – their mercury and lead seeping into our water and food supplies.
Nowadays we have great batteries like these ones made from recycled parts and these ones which can be charged and recharged. CBV uses rechargeable AA batteries in lights, sound equipment, and even inserts like this one.
They last for years and get sent to a local e-waste disposal when they finally die.
4. Less lights, better bulbs.
Today’s cameras make this next environmental choice possible. With camera sensitivity way up, we don’t need the big huge tungsten lights we used to. As a result, today’s lights require less electricity and also run on LED or CFL bulbs. (Or ‘globes’ in Hollywood parlance.) They also run cooler too, so talent doesn’t need quite as much make up or water between takes!
5. Work locally.
Being a small, local business has it’s perks. I’m able to schedule most client sessions close to each other. Our crew don’t burn miles and miles of gasoline to get to shoots. Some days we’re even able to walk or bike to work. We’re proud to be located in the Bay Area – with some of the most accessible public transportation in the country.
When we work with clients out of town or out of state, we still keep travel to a minimum and use tools like WeTransfer, Zoom, and Skype to go over work.
6. Use paper as little as possible.
This is the most obvious way to be green – and yet it requires a bit of self discipline as well. We prioritize digital copies of deal memos, purchase orders, invoices, contracts, scripts, and storyboards. We type notes at meetings – or convert hand written notes into digital copies with tools like Evernote.
When we do use paper, we use as little of it as possible, buy stock that is at least 30% recycled, and recycle all paper scraps and garbage.
7. Green cleaning and garbage disposal.
Speaking of garbage, we do separate. Religiously. And give compostables to a gardener who has her offices right next door to ours!
8. Encourage clients & subs to be green too.
Finally and most importantly, we encourage our clients and subcontractors to be green too. We share all the ways we make it work and all the tools we use (like using digital signatures with PDF’s without printing).
I was inspired to go green by reading some of the work of my uncle, Arthur L. Dahl. He’s been working in sustainable development for decades. He was also the first person to point out to me that the precious metals that made the camera in my hand (and my livelihood) possible were not a limitless resource. ‘When they’re gone, they’re gone.’ he said. Since that conversation, I’ve set limits on my consumption so that our collective creativity can continue to be limitless.