April marks the fifth anniversary for EcoSet Consulting, a company that partners with advertisers committed to sustainable production practices behind the scenes of television commercial shoots. Since its inception in 2009, the certified Women Owned Business has been collaborating with such flagship brands as Campbell’s, Subaru, Old Navy, Samsung, and Honda.
“We work with advertisers to achieve Zero Waste standards and donate remaining production elements, but our hope is that one day our job will be rendered unnecessary by widespread industry change,” says Kris Barberg, EcoSet’s Executive Director.
In the fast-paced, pressure-filled reality of film production, very little of what busy crews throw away on set is unrecoverable. 85-95% of a production’s discards can be kept out of landfills through comprehensive composting, recycling, and the collection and redistribution of reusable materials to local communities.
In 626 commercial shoot days since 2009, EcoSet & its clients have diverted 695,000 pounds of waste from landfills -- 93% of what was generated on set. They’ve also prevented the use of more than 160,000 disposable plastic water bottles. EcoSet implements the Zero Waste standards by seamlessly integrating with each production department to develop and execute waste prevention practices and source responsible materials during pre-production, as well as overseeing hands-on waste diversion practices on set.
Another component to sustainable production is donating everything possible. EcoSet partners with schools, women’s shelters, transitional housing and family-focused organizations to donate clothing, shoes, furniture, home goods, school supplies and food from commercial shoots.
”Behind every ad is an opportunity to impact lives, and there are so many people who can use the props, set dressing, wardrobe and other visuals that appear on camera,” explains Amy Hammes, EcoSet’s Donations Director. “We have a vast network of over 700 organizations that rely on donations for their programs and constituents. Being the bridge between the good stuff that remains and people who truly need it is what keeps us going.”
The most challenging aspect of EcoSet’s work, they note, is finding a home for set walls, flooring, wood scraps and custom built pieces that would normally be discarded. The company’s strategic planning and research connects these resources with recipients who can best reuse or transform the materials.
“It’s a combination of grit and synchronicity behind the scenes that transform scraps and cast-offs into playgrounds for blind children, a wildlife habitat, an independent theatrical production, teaching tools or food for animals at local farms,” notes Hammes.
Last year, EcoSet moved to an expanded headquarters, which includes storage space for sets and constructed materials that can be reused, or random materials that take longer to find a new home. With increased space to host more resources, EcoSet launched The Materials Oasis, a place of abundance where non-profits, filmmakers, theaters, artists, builders, gardeners and others treasure hunt for free supplies and salvaged materials that would otherwise have been sent to a landfill.
According to Hammes: “We are taking on the task of redefining the word ‘trash,’ and the Materials Oasis plays a big part in making that possible. On any given day, people walk through our door and are delighted to find inspiration to create, build, and design. They give items once destined for a dumpster a new use and longer life.”
EcoSet tracks every donation story and the weight of materials saved from each shoot, then summarizes the results in a client recap. This data provides accountability and back-up verification that commercials are produced in the most responsible way and meet environmental and social responsibility goals.
“Our brand partners value sustainability as part of corporate social responsibility commitments. Non-profits are able to stretch their limited resources with the abundance of leftovers from the advertising productions,” concludes Kris Barberg. “We are proud to be a bridge, and to be accountable for serving the biggest need of all: the environment.”view more - The Sustainability Channel