8 ways to be sustainable in the Theatre | How we try to put them into play

As we draw to the end of Sustainable September, we thought it would be ace to highlight some of the ways you can be sustainable in the theatre ALL year round.


The cast and creative team of La Musica were given a tree in Vauxhall as a present at opening night to commemorate the show being a Classics for a New Climate Production.


1. Up-cycling and reusing sets

🌱 So many times at the end of a production, if it’s not of immediate or foreseeable reuse, all that beautiful set goes straight in the skip. Not only wasting perfectly good materials but filling up our landfills. And we’re in an industry that is currently full of budget cuts, what is going on?  The Young Vic works with Scenery Salvage and Set Exchange, who aim to ensure that sets have a long and meaningful life post-production or are dealt with in the most sustainable way possible when they are no longer required. Recent examples include donating the sand from Ah, Wilderness! to a local nursery, the timber from The Trial being re-appropriated for La Musica and the rubber crumb from Yerma coming from a previous production at the Donmar Warehouse, rather than buying new.

2. LED lighting in the theatre

🌱 LED lighting is the way of the future because quite simply they use a fraction of the power of a normal light bulb…. meaning LOW POWER CONSUMPTION. Woop. Our production of La Musica was a Classics for a New Climate production – and included an LED light box. Capital Refurbishment Projects have also seen us introduce LED lighting into the YV get-round and public toilets.

3. Working to create a living roof garden to support an urban garden ecosystem

🌱 Green roofs (roofs with a vegetated surface and substrate) provide ecosystem services in urban areas, including improved storm-water management, better regulation of building temperatures, reduced urban heat-island effects, and increased urban wildlife habitat.1 Now in its second year, our gardening club works with Kew Gardens ‘Grow Wild’ Campaign. Check out our roof top below.

We’re also in love with our wormery – any appropriate food waste is place in the wormery, digested, and turned into compost. Go green!

4. Give away your surplus playtexts.

🌱 Why not give away any surplus playtexts to those who could use them? Definitely better than having these fantastic pieces of work lie around the office or in storage. All unused and surplus playtexts at the Young Vic are given away to local secondary schools.

5. Encourage your audiences to travel via public transport.

🌱 Actively encourage your audiences to hit the tube, bus, bike or their two feet in order to make to-ing and fro-ing from the theatre have less impact on the environment. Added bonus of not worrying about parking.

On top of trying to promote this practice to our audience, the Young Vic give away 10% of all its tickets away for free to local young people, schools and colleges, residents and community groups. Meaning that we know that at least 10% of our audience comes from the local area, and thus have a minimal carbon footprint in associated travel.

6. Get your in-house theatre bars and restaurants on board.

🌱 Local and organic is best! Just think about the how much wasted energy and carbon output you can cut down on if you stick to locally sourced produce. Also sticking with organic, you know not only exactly where it’s coming from, but what’s in it.

The Cut Bar does some fantastic work: food is seasonal, and comes from ethical, organic and free-range suppliers. There are also number of vegan and vegetarian options, the beer comes from a local brewery in Bermondsey, the wine comes from a biodynamic vineyard, and our takeaway cups are fully recyclable (unlike in coffee-chain shops).

7. Use eco-friendly suppliers within your companies/offices/organizations.

🌱 This one’s for all industries out there. Go green in your stationary and office supplies, why not?  For more information on the impact simple changes such as the paper you use can have, check out our supplier Wiles Greenworld‘s site. Some of their services include 100% recycled plastic pens, products that have not been freighted from overseas and Fairtrade tea and coffee. We love them and you can too!

8. Be recycle and waste concious.

🌱 A 2008 report from the Mayor of London’s office found that the annual carbon footprint of the theatre industry in London is equivalent to driving around the M25 1.5 million times. And it is estimated that around 600 million tonnes of products and materials enter the UK economy each year, with only 115 million tonnes of this getting recycled. There’s only one answer to this people, be recycle and waste concious aware.2

The Young Vic works with First Mile, who ensure that nothing they collect goes to landfill. All waste collected from the theatre is either recycled or incinerated for energy recovery or anaerobic digestion.

If you’d like to read more about how the Young Vic commits itself to helping the environment you can do so here


Young Vic Wormery

1 BioScience Oxford Journals

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