Sustainability Trends from 2014

I love this time of year when experts sum up trends that give all of us a snapshot of sustainability across industries.

The top sustainable production metrics we've seen in the motion picture industry are:

  1. Greenhouse gas footprint calculated
  2. Waste diversion rate
  3. Water bottles saved (not used)
  4. Meals donated
  5. Estimated cost savings from "going green"

Publications such as offer their top sustainability stories of 2014 on topics such as "sustainable beef" at McDonald's, and energy, water and supply chains.

The 10 most important sustainable business stories from 2014 is an article published by the Harvard Business Review that provides a nice summary of what’s going on in many business sectors (I encourage you to read the article for the nifty gritty.). The 10 themes of the year are:

  1. The bad news – climate change is now.
  2. The good news — tackling climate change is getting much cheaper.
  3. The utility and energy businesses are changing fundamentally (well, some of them are).
  4. Serious legislation like a carbon tax — even in the U.S. — is seeming possible again.
  5. A powerful social movement on climate takes shape.
  6. Strategy and mission start to gain the upper hand on short-termism.
  7. Rivals embrace radical collaboration.
  8. The absurd amount of food we waste gets more attention.
  9. A teenager pressures Cola-Cola and Pepsi – and wins.
  10. The fight against inequality finds new business allies.

Why are the broader business stories relevant for the motion picture industry?   It is important to know the larger landscape and what other industries are pursuing and society is championing with regard to the shared problem of climate change.  Productions have vast supply chains from business services (e.g. legal, licensing, etc.) to food services, to fossil fuel providers, and major companies providing these goods and services at each stage of the value chain are assessing risk and taking some kind of action to reduce the risk of climate change. Society is becoming more educated about climate change and more active in the quest for information.

Will actions in other industries effect motion picture projects?  Will certain goods become more expensive due to risk? Should productions start thinking of alternative materials, local products or ones that have a lighter footprint?  In this age of transparency, should productions be tracking their impact and talking about it? Will audiences start thinking about the impact of the entertainment they consume the way they think about the impact of their food?

The short answer is, “Yes.”