By David Evans
With an election no longer on the horizon, not even lurking round the corner, but imminent, we can expect each party to attempt to outdo each other as they wave their "green" credentials. The Green Party would of course win were this the only topic up for discussion, but as it only forms part of the portfolio of issues, concerns, policies and special interests that will be squabbled over we will be left with the big three performing master classes of recycling and repackaging of each other's and their predecessor's ideas.
They all have policies - the Conservative have a "Climate Change and Energy policy" which is packed with big ideas and big commitments, they talk of a "decentralised energy revolution" and they will lead the way by cutting government's energy consumption by 10% in the first year of office.
The Lib Dems are delighted that the Green Alliance gave them "three green lights" and they are rather more specific in their support for renewable energy sources, and their opposition to nuclear power which the other two parties support. Like the Conservatives they like superlatives; "massive investment", "major insulation programme". They are a bit more microcosmic addressing domestic bills and how their "green infrastructure" will form the basis of a new economic model with new jobs attached.
The Labour Party has a more difficult role as they are already enacting part of their policy and they cannot snipe from the wings. They have already passed the 2008 Climate Change Act which as a legal framework has authority in the same way that the H and S at Work act of 1974 does and we all know how that has impinged itself on our lives. One of their main ideas is a "Green Investment Bank", perhaps an odd policy given the current currency of the banking fraternity.
All three parties are rather macho, everything is; "massive, big, comprehensive", but they are quite short on detail. Of course this is all made to look slightly absurd as you see Cameron peddling furiously round London with his car following him, and Gordon publically apologising for taking the occasional plane.
But how does this affect us? At the moment not a great deal, but as all their policies show, they are building up a momentum and pretty soon stringent standards will be imposed, and we should be ready for them.
The low hanging fruit of energy saving bulbs, turning off computers etc. have been discussed at length in the pages of Cueline and elsewhere, but it is depressing how little some managements and venues have done. Do they not realise that all sound energy saving decisions save money in the short, medium and long term?
Stage Managers can attend to their own activities, use recycled paper, print on both sides, turn off the lights, etc., but their influence is much wider. They set the tone for a project. Who sets up the rehearsal room? Who runs the shows? Your influence starts in the rehearsal room, if the management do not put out recycling bins, put them out yourself.
As part of the production team, you are part of the decision making process: use that influence. Despite the often pitifully slow process of government, certain councils have established very sophisticated recycling and reuse schemes. Contact them and find out how you can work together.
Battery recycling schemes exist, but they are not always very efficient, but what is stopping you drawing up a rota for people to take the old batteries to the local supermarket or library which offer recycling? Do any of you drive to work? Offset the journey by taking recyclable items to the local recycling centre (it used to be known as the dump).
The politicians are talking about saving the world, let us just concentrate on improving our little bits of it and then we might be better prepared for when they start making some real decisions.
An SMA member comments...
There are two associated issues I feel very strongly about, that I would like to add:
I did a lot of recycling on the last West End show I worked on, as we had newspapers, champagne bottles and beer cans consumed each show. I was shocked to learn the theatre bar didn't recycle (so I carried them to nearby recycling bins). The theatre bars produced many more bottles than the show did, so it just emphasised what a drop in the ocean it was that I was doing, to the point of ridicule. There's only so much 1 person can quietly achieve when the family of theatres around her is doing nothing. No bar or pub has any excuse not to recycle.
But my other real frustration which affects theatres heavily is water coolers. This is TERRIBLE for the environment, and also morally/ethically bad. But it seems to be so common, and even expected. Tap water is healthier, cheaper, ecologically and ethically better. It is important for actors especially to get their heads round this. I refuse to use water coolers and so often there is a sink not that far away. Does everyone have their own water cooler at home? Why are people so obsessed with them?