Why we're no longer calling ourselves a "carbon-neutral" theatre company
Credit: Greta Mitchell
Since 2018 we’ve relied on the label “carbon-neutral” to promote our company and work. Our commitment to sustainability affects every decision we make – creative and practical. And while we’ll still make work with the least carbon impact possible, we’ve recently decided to drop “carbon-neutral” as our tagline. This is because-
1. We believe that a hyper-focus on achieving carbon-neutrality often promotes greenwashing*, encouraging companies to focus on public appearances rather than actually taking the action required to reduce their carbon impact
*Greenwashing: “when a company or organisation spends more time and money on marketing themselves as being sustainable than on actually minimising their environmental impact” – Earth.Org
Instead of reducing their carbon emissions to zero, some companies keep operating in more or less the same way, while carbon offsetting their emissions- through often ineffective & sometimes unethical schemes (see below).
2. Our work will always have a carbon impact – either from us falling short of the standards we usually follow, or from what we call “unavoidable” emissions. For example, we mostly travel on trains (the most eco-friendly form of motorised transport currently available). From May 2020-2021, we travelled nearly 4,000 miles on them! Those 4,000 miles resulted in 225 kg of carbon emissions – over a quarter of our carbon emissions that year.
Each year we record & measure our carbon footprint, we also discover ways we’ve been having an impact, without realising – like our digital carbon footprint, which we hadn't engaged with before the pandemic.
We do offset our unavoidable carbon emissions, using ethical, transparent offsetting organisations which prioritise preventing carbon release today (e.g. restoring peatland or capturing emissions) rather than less effective long-term carbon capture schemes, like tree-planting.
For more on offsetting and its issues:
Greenpeace- "The biggest problem with carbon offsetting is that it doesn't really work"
Sophia Li- "Carbon credits are not created equal!"
So although we won’t rely on the tagline “carbon-neutral” anymore, we are still going to be carbon-neutral – taking every measure we can to reduce the carbon emissions of our work to zero. You can find out more about how we make our work sustainable & record our remaining carbon emissions, here: