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Making a Big Impact: On Set with Sinking Ship Entertainment’s “Endlings”

Awards, Circular Economy, Composting, Environmental Steward, Recycling, Reuse, Waste, Water

By Sarah Margolius

Last month, massive crowds in 150 countries around the world marched to demand climate action, including young people from the cast of Sinking Ship Entertainment’s new kids and family sci-fi adventure series Endlings. The Toronto-based production, distribution and digital company has made it their mission to make a difference on-screen and behind the scenes.

(c) 2019 Sinking Ship Entertainment

Cast, staff, crew and supporters from Sinking Ship Entertainment's "Endlings" make some noise at the Global Climate Strike in Toronto on September 27, 2019.

Endlings earned Gold status for the EMA Green Seal for Production, the first independent Ontario production to earn the distinction. Thanks to the creative vision and passion for sustainability by the show’s creator J.J. Johnson, Endlings portrays inspiring sustainability behaviours by the characters and dialogue which advocates for greater environmental responsibility. Under Johnson’s direction, the production has also taken steps to reduce its overall environmental impact behind the scenes, with great results.

“Change is challenging. Something as simple as how we consume water – a thing we all take for granted – had hurdles that we needed to overcome,” says Endlings Producer Alexis Grieve. “Everyone agreed they would rather do the right thing for the environment. We just needed to make it easy.”

Hiring an Environmental Steward was a key step to ensuring the production met its green objectives. Enter Brittany Elst, a Guelph-area resident with no previous production experience. Brittany's passion for the environment, friendly demeanour and tenacious personality ensured sustainability initiatives were communicated and on track to succeed.

Brittany Elst (far right) and crew on location

Job one was the elimination of plastic water bottles. Considering a medium size tv show or large feature film can go through more than 100,000 plastic water bottles during production, this was a key decision. “The producers made the call that set would be disposable water-bottle free,” says Brittany. “It was my job to  let everybody know that, and make sure that an environmentally-friendly show could be as convenient as any other.”

Brittany jumped into action, handing out Endlings branded bottles labelled with everyone’s name on the first day. Each crew member was accountable for their own water bottle. “Giving out reusable water bottles gave me a chance to introduce myself and explain my role on set to every person,” Brittany said.  “This [simple act] went a long way in making sure the initiatives worked.”

Brittany also appointed herself “chief water bottle filler” for key production personnel, and made sure there were water refill stations at each location. The biggest challenge was when dailies missed the green tips and memo and forgot to bring their reusable water bottles to set. Brittany started a water bottle sign-out station where extra bottles could be used. She washed and restocked them regularly.

The Eco-Tip Board, placed in a visible location

While there was an adjustment period for the new policy, the entire cast and crew has now embraced it and come to expect it. Brittany heard crew talk about taking their reusable water bottles to other sets and being disappointed when there were no refill stations.

How did all these efforts pay off? In 57 shooting days, there was hardly a plastic water bottle in sight. The crew’s estimated efforts saved the equivalent of 6,235 water bottles. As Brittany explains, “I calculated this number by tracking the amount of water we consumed. This is a conservative number because it doesn’t account for all the partially drunk plastic water bottles that would normally be found all over set.”

The following are a few of Sinking Ship Entertainment’s other environmental initiatives undertaken on Endlings:

      • - Mainly shot at a rural property in Eramosa, Ontario, Brittany set up a compost bin on-site and managed organic waste
      • - A reusable coffee mug initiative, which rewarded one lucky crew member each week with a $25 gift card for bringing a reusable coffee mug to set
      • - Providing a shuttle service between Toronto and the location to reduce carbon emissions
      • - Reimbursing carpool drivers for their fuel use
      • - Recycling by ensuring proper source separation
      • - Donating materials and wardrobe to local charities

 

“It was important that all our cast and crew felt we were in it together,” says Grieve.  "We are all here for a common purpose."

On the heels of the Global Climate March, and international recognition of the cast and crew's sustainability efforts, it's clear that common purpose was achieved!

Environmental Steward Brittany Elst made the most of the rural location by setting up a composter for food waste

 

The show's sustainability mandate is kept top of mind with visible reminders in key areas

 

Celebrating Gold status for the EMA Green Seal for Production, at the Ontario Regional Film Forum. L-R: Waste consultant Jessica Wilkinson, Sinking Ship Producer Alexis Grieve, Sustainable Media Production Canada's Sarah Margolius and Sinking Ship's Natasha Ramsingh

Explore the resources below to implement similar initiatives on your set.

Related resources:

Learn more about sustainable waste management and more than 225 other best practices in our Best Practices for Sustainable Production.

Incentives may be available to help you hire an Environmental Steward for your production. Refer to CIC’s Career Launcher program in the Green Vendor Directory.

Find a Green Vendor for your production by searching our https://sustainablemediacan.ca/vendors/.

Learn about Environmental Media Association’s Green Seal for Production.

 

 

 

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