As a dancer with limited funds, it can be hard to make changes in your life to feel like you’re contributing to a more sustainable future. I’ve experienced this myself many times and it can lead to what many psychologists call ‘eco-anxiety’ and a feeling of hopelessness. The main thing to remember is that you are only one person and - though social media may tell us otherwise - we don’t always have to have the answer. Here are 10 top tips that I’ve learnt as a touring and freelance dancer that can help you feel in control of your environmental footprint.
- Meal Prep – Love it or hate it we all know that cooking for yourself 9 times out of 10 is less damaging for the planet (and your wallet) than living off meal deals. As a touring dancer though living in theatre digs you never know what utensils you’ll have until you arrive. I found the best thing to do was to keep it simple. Couscous, pasta and rice are always doable, then just change it up with your toppings. Always have at least 2 or 3 Tupperware boxes in your suitcase, you’re bound to lose one.
- Eco-fy your Toiletries – I have had the same shaving soap dish for almost 4 years now (gross?) that’s a saving of around £140 over its lifetime! Glass roll-on deodorant bottles, reusable cotton pads, toothpaste tabs... the list of eco-friendly toiletries is increasing year on year. Ask your cast mates and crew members for recommendations and reviews before making a big change though, a wasted product bought on a whim is just as damaging.
- Council Madness – Knowing what to recycle isn’t easy at the best of times but being in a different city each week can make it impossible thanks to variations in council collections. Luckily a lot of theatres are now using companies such as FirstMile where all waste is sorted for you. To help you on tour we’ve made this handy poster that you can use yourself or distribute around the theatre. It is universal across all UK councils.
- Greenwashing – Luckily, we’re all more aware of it these days, but what are the tell-tale signs? Look out for general phrases such as, ‘planet friendly’ and, ‘sustainably sourced’, with nothing to back them. Equally, clue yourself up, I recently saw a deodorant can quoting, ‘made from infinitely recyclable aluminium’. Yes, all aluminium is infinitely recyclable, but this can was made of virgin material and wasn’t recyclable either due to the spray top, without this knowledge I could have fallen for this claim.
- Public Transport – One of the hardest things I’ve found as a now very settled Londoner is surviving without CityMapper! Getting public transport in a new city can be a nightmare but we’re working with theatres across the country to try and get information such as local bike-hire companies, shuttle buses and other traffic-calming schemes published to all visitors. In the meantime, my next point might help.
- Plan Ahead – I’ve booked a job, told everyone on Instagram and already planned what my dressing table will look like. Two weeks before we open I haven’t booked any digs! Book early and consider what you’ll save in travel costs and in emissions by booking that slightly 'bouji-er' room near the theatre. Often a financial saving is a carbon saving too.
- Caffeine Fix – This is an easy one. Coffee drinker? Reusable coffee cup. And, a top tip if you can afford it, would be to get 2, keep one at the theatre and one in your bag, switch them around whenever you wash the other.
- Petitions Work – We all know the feeling of signing a petition a friend has shared, sitting back, and feeling like we should be doing more but petitions can play an important role in showing the media that there is an important story worth covering. This small action, thanks to the wonder of algorithms, can snowball into something much bigger.
- Money Talks – Supermarkets just stock whatever they like, right? The advent of shop loyalty cards actually means that supermarket shelves are determined more and more by the consumer. Want to see more vegan products in your local? Show your interest by purchasing what is already available and see the range increase over time.
- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – Sometimes we need a ready meal, or an Uber, or treat ourselves to an over-packaged beauty product, don’t worry about it. We’re human and in the long run we’ll make better informed decisions if we’re less stressed. Focus on manageable changes in your life and eventually you’ll wonder how you ever did things before.
For more information on what we are doing as a company to take responsibility for our impact visit our Green Adventures pages. Join our mailing list to take a deep dive into our new Environmental Policy, Action Plan and many more innovative new documents when they are published later this year. And, if you fancy some further reading, follow the links below for some of the sites and articles that have helped inform this list.
Post pandemic New Adventures is renewing its commitment to its environmental initiative, Green Adventures. We will report on our environmental impact and use our soon to be published new Environmental Policy and Action Plan to work as an organisation to lessen our impact. We aim to work collaboratively sector-wide to create a more environmentally sustainable theatre industry and are excited by the opportunities that Arts Council England’s ‘Let’s Create’ strategy presents.