Practical tips to more eco friendly set work

Need some tips for more eco friendly on set work? Our 2nd AC Reetta Somppi gathered a list of some solid ones to start with – here they are!

Lunch box and spork

On set lunch is usually served on paper plates with disposable utensils and with water on a plastic cup. Of course this makes sense when there aren’t many productions where the catering staff has time or resources to carry porcelain tableware around and time to wash them at the end of the day. If 40 people eat lunch from disposable tableware throughout 30 day shooting period, the total consumption is 1200 plates, forks and knives. Not to mention all the paper cups. One pack of disposable plates (25 pcs) costs 2,19 € in Tokmanni, which means a 30 day production uses a total of 48 packs costing 105,12 €.

So, what to do about it? For lunch break, you can get yourself your own, firmly lidded lunch box, spork, reusable coffee cup and water bottle. Lunch boxes are easy to clean at home or even at the hotel. Lid makes sure the gravy and salad dressing won’t leak in your bag and if the lunch was tasty, you can even use it to take some leftovers with you back home. With your own box, you alone can save 1,2 packs of paper plates! Now because of Covid19, lunches are individually packed so in these times all you could’ve done is to bring your own spork. 

My lunch box, bought from Lidl and spork From Partioaitta.

Water bottle and coffee cup 

How many water bottles do you have? One you may have bought, some you have gotten as a gift and maybe as a freebie. For me, I’d say I have 6 – 8 of them. So, finding a bottle isn’t the problem, moreover it’s about which is the most suitable kind for you. For some, a sports bottle where you can quickly take small sips every now and then is the best option. Others like sturdy, metallic kinds that are durable and easy to dangle with you from carabiner, or maybe you like a small, lightweight bottle that hangs from your belt.

I myself prefer size over anything, so I don’t have to run to fill it up all the time. My favourite right now is big, plastic, one litre bottle with a cap, so I can drink big gulps. Second runner up is a metallic bottle that was a wrap gift. Store bought water bottles are of course good to have in any production, but the less the crew members need to use them, the better it is for the environment and for the prop master. I do admit being one of those people myself who has stopped writing their name on the bottle, but substituted it with some sort of a scribble only I can recognize. That way I don’t get caught having my bottle ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time, like it always does eventually. 

My trusty coffee mug (red, front) and two favourite water bottles

Same principle works with coffee cups, though free roaming water bottles are nothing compared to the wandering army of paper cups. Coffee is way more personal matter for many people, so it’s important to figure out what kind of cup is possible for you to keep with you. Enamel or steel cups are nice to use, but for me they are very inconvenient. I can never set them safely anywhere and I hate the smelly coffee drops that they spread around. My favourite is a super tightly sealed contigo thermos flask I can throw on a magliner even as full, and I can be sure it won’t leak.

You also should consider getting everything in double or at least make sure you remember where you got the best products for yourself. You are sure to lose one and forget to wash the other one at the end of the day. If you know what yesterday’s milk smells in the mug, I recommend you get accustomed to oat milk.

Face masks

Covid19 has brought us new trash plague and prop masters horror in the form of face masks. You don’t always need to throw the disposable masks away, they are at least as effective as cloth masks even after wash (link to YLE´s news about it).I noted that the easiest way for me to clean them is boiling, because you can do it while eating your supper and I can clean just the amount I need for the next day. After melting a hole in a few masks I also learned not to stuff all week’s masks in the pot at once.

Doing things ecofriendly might feel cumbersome at first, but with time and routines they can become a fluent part of your everyday life. Don’t force yourself, good deeds are no good if all they bring is stress and strain your nerves. It’s best to start with things that feel the easiest.

This post is part of BBG’s ”Focus on the environment” campaign in Feb 2021.