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Bury St Edmunds anti-waste campaigner Karen Cannard explores what the leisure industry is doing to reduce its footprint



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In my last column, I explored the guidance that is available for improving sustainability at work, starting with the high street and the health sector. We also saw how accountancy, legal services and architect practices can make a difference too.

This month I turn my attention to leisure and entertainment, taking a stroll through the landscape of a variety of pursuits to discover the hard work that is being embedded to reduce the environmental impact of having fun.

If you’re a sports lover, you might have already seen some of this in action, in the form of a reduction in single-use plastic, better recycling facilities or greener buildings. However, there is much more that goes on behind the scenes and if you work in the sports sector it is worth noting that Sports England offers a wealth of guidance for facilities and planning, including links to key websites and governing bodies that support different types of sports.

Karen Cannard
Karen Cannard

There is also guidance on how to help communities become increasingly active through sustainable travel and environmental design – www.sportengland.org/how-we-can-help/facilities-and-planning/sustainability

Even green league tables are now emerging that showcase how well teams are faring in the sustainability stakes. In Premier League football, Tottenham and Liverpool came joint-top in the 2021 Sustainability Table compiled by Sport Positive. A BBC report highlights examples of the actions taken by some of the featured clubs. Many of these could be adopted by other types of organisations too –www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/60196764

In the context of televised events, in 2020, Sky Sports became the first broadcaster to sign up to the UNFCCC’s Sports for Climate Action Framework, an international commitment to reduce the environmental impact of sport, including by those working in television production.

In the UK, sports broadcasters and producers, including Sky, BBC, ITV and Channel 4, are also collaborating through Bafta’s Albert Sports Consortium to share best practice and to explore key challenges in live broadcasting, for example energy use and travel – www.skysports.com/more-sports/news/12040/12022278/sky-sports-becomes-first-broadcaster-to-sign-un-climate-change-commitment

Bafta’s commitment to reducing the industry’s carbon footprint also extends more widely into other areas of TV and film production through its specialist Albert training, tools, and information sharing services. Albert is the sustainability arm of Bafta, which helps to develop carbon literacy across many professions related to the creation of screen productions. Advice includes tips for scripting green issues across a range of formats, guidance on greening up different departments, reducing the impact of being on-location as well as a comprehensive directory of recommended suppliers. You might have even seen Albert’s sustainability logo on the credits of many an accredited TV show, including news and factual, drama, comedy, light entertainment and, of course, sport.

After 10 years of research and development, there is now a wealth of expertise that can be found on the WeAreAlbert website – https://wearealbert.org/category/case-study/.

If you enjoy the live performing arts and cultural scene, guidance for sustainable practice is available for this sector too, through Julie’s Bicycle, a not-for-profit organisation that was founded by the music industry in 2007. Over 5,000 organisations worldwide, incorporating theatres, festivals and arts venues, use its Creative Green tools and resources. These include benchmarks, a carbon calculator, case studies, research and webinars. In addition, Julie’s Bicycle explores issues around climate justice and works closely with environmental and cultural policy makers to effect change – https://juliesbicycle.com/.

This is just a brief insight into how green skills and climate change/sustainability awareness are relevant to the leisure and entertainment sectors.

For a local example of how this translates behind the scenes, the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds has recently shared its activities on Facebook, highlighting ways in which the team has reduced its carbon footprint, waste and power usage. These include a more efficient boiler, LED bulbs, light switch sensors, planting bee-loving plants, using peat-free compost, locally sourced ice-cream, beers and spirits, extensive recycling and swapping from recyclable plastic cups to reusable alternatives. The theatre has also gone the extra eco-mile by switching to a cargo bike to reduce the need for its van and, instead of simply recycling its production print materials, it has partnered with local nurseries where the paper is shredded and reused for packing plants – www.facebook.com/TheatreRoyalBSE

I think that’s worthy of a standing ovation and a shout of ‘Bravo’.