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Earth Day and Broadway go hand in hand

The Broadway Green Alliance is the theatre community’s hub for environmental activism. One of the BGA’s many campaigns is to collect used items from Broadway shows (and the general public), including batteries, used music binders, greeting cards and much more. These items will then be recycled or reused, if possible. E-mail Green@broadway.org for a list of the current collections. Above, actor Mara Davi sorts items at the BGA’s office.

This year, Earth Day (April 22) has special importance as climate change is treated by some as an “alternative fact.” Fortunately, we work in a community that actively finds ways, small and large, to protect the environment, without compromising our performances, through participation in the Broadway Green Alliance.

The BGA is an industry-wide initiative that educates, motivates and inspires the entire theatre community and its patrons to adopt environmentally friendlier practices. The BGA was launched in 2008 as an ad hoc committee of the Broadway League and has become a fiscal program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. We bring together musicians, producers, theatres, college drama programs, unions and related theatre businesses. Working closely with the Natural Resources Defense Council, we identify and disseminate better practices for theatre professionals and reach out to theatre fans throughout the county and all over the world.

The Broadway Green Alliance is composed of volunteers who are interested in being a little bit greener. We hold four drives a year in Times Square to collect textiles and e-waste. We collect other items like batteries, greeting cards, MetroCards, and more in our office. We have a volunteer Green Captain at every show on Broadway. We also have Green Captains at about 65 Off Broadway shows and companies, and at dozens of regional and college theaters. If you’re a theatre musician and want to know who your show’s Green Captain is, e-mail Green@Broadway.org. Each theatrical union also has one or more Green Captains. Local 802 has a Green Captain on its staff: Marisa Friedman (Mfriedman@Local802afm.org or 212-245-4802, ext. 130). Local 802 member Ralph Farris is also a Green Captain.

We all know the three Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle. This year, the BGA is focusing on reuse. While recycling is much better than landfill disposal, reusing or reducing your materials is preferable. We want to focus on moving up this value chain. Our success is entirely dependent on the actions of our members, and luckily, our members are truly inspiring and are doing wonderful things to help the environment. Here are four standouts:

Mara Davi: Mara served as the Green Captain for “Dames at Sea.” In December, she started a 30-day social media campaign #30daysofgreen in which she posted one green tip every day. After the campaign’s success, she has continued to impress and inspire us with her new series #greenspired. Mara profiles individuals and organizations that are leading the way and making great green strides. Follow her @maradavi to learn what habits you can change, and what green organizations you can support.

Satomi Hofmann: Satomi is the Green Captain at “Phantom of the Opera.” She noticed that the company’s TransitChek cards and MetroCards were being thrown out at the end of every month and decided to do something about it. She set up a collection for the cards backstage. We now also collect them at the BGA’s office and encourage all of the shows to collect them as well. The used cards are given to NYC artist Nina Boesch who uses them to create stunning collages. Satomi identified a problem, found a solution, is keeping plastic out of landfills, and is helping to create beautiful art.

Local 802 member Larry Saltzman: Larry was the Green Captain at “Something Rotten.” He helped green the production, including installing a collection point kit at the St. James Theatre. The collection program allows anyone affiliated with the production to take action, save certain items from the landfill, and make a difference. What is most remarkable is that we have found that these recycling habits extend past the production, and into everyone’s daily life.

David Stone: Producer David Stone received the 2017 Green Broadway Award at the Broadway League’s Biennial Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Jan. 30. It recognizes his consistent leadership: identifying an important challenge and tackling it, enlisting his staff to make theatre more environmentally friendly, sharing his results, and inspiring others in the community to take action. In 2008 after encouraging all four companies of “Wicked” to experiment and try greener practices in the operation of their show, Stone organized a town hall at the Gershwin Theatre attended by over 250 theatre owners, producers and professionals. (It was following this town hall that the Broadway Green Alliance was formed.) Since then, “Wicked” has continued to innovate. Using rechargeable batteries has cut annual battery use from 15,000 batteries to only 96 batteries; using water bottles and filtration systems has kept tens of thousands of plastic bottles out of the waste stream; and on-demand printing of Playbill stuffers has cut paper usage and saved over $25,000 a year. These practices and others have been widely shared and adopted at theatres around the world.

We have highlighted these four individuals, but all of our members must be commended for their passion and for all that they do. We are #greenspired by each of them, and we invite you to join us. Sign up to be a member at: http://membership.BroadwayGreen.com.

Together, our small individual actions can add up to make a large impact.

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