"Green" Scenery


CB Mods
Premium Member
Hello everybody ! I thought mybe starting a new thread would lead to a product and happy New Year. Well it can't hurt.
So I thought I'd like to start a thread about what I call "Green Scenery". I think most here will agree with me that Theatre, in general, can be an extremely wastefull industry. To address this I started looking very hard for ways to reduce my "footprint" in the Biosphere. I would love to get some input from Carps, designers, Heck even the Sparkys and Hum Heads.:mrgreen: < we all make trash you know>
I'd also like to share one of my favorite "green" tools to start things off with. For years I hated working with Steel for one main big reason, Cleaning it! One place I used to work would setup a long panlike thing under some saw horses, then spray mineral spirits, or sometimes Laquer thinner < OMG> , on the steel then wipe it down with rags. The pan was to catch run-off so at least they were thinking about re-cycling. < even though it was about costs not health or enviromental issues>.
I had a TD, at one time, who taught me a great trick and I'd like to pass it on. One of the best steel cleaners I have found is this: simple green, and sawdust. The operation goes like this: Lay your steel accross some horses, get a bucket of sawdust from you tablesaw / dust collector / navel/ where ever. Sprinkle sawdust liberally along the length of the steel. Then spray down the sawdust with a liberal coating of Simple green < use the standard floor cleaner solution as a mix>. grab a rag, put of some gloves and start scrubbing. When a face is done roll the steel to a new face and start again. After a bit or practice, or if you have really big hands, you can get two faces of steel clean at once. This technique does require that most precious of all commodities " elbow Grease" but the enviromental impact is such that it's worth it. You can save and reuse the dirty sawdust several times until it's well coated in grease and no longer effective. Then dispose of it according to local regs.

My steel cleaning trick works great but does take a little more time than traditional methods, I think this is an acceptable trade off when you consider the enviromental benefits. How do you reduce costs without harming the enviroment ? What Brainiac Genius Idea have you had that helps the shop and the enviroment at the same time ? Heres to a Happy cleaner, greener New Year !
Excellent thread!
However, staying enviro-friendly is very difficult in our theater setting.
obvious recycling is excellent tool. my suggestion, you can never have to much wood. save your scraps, and use them.
don't print to many program notes. hard i know, but they really consume paper and are often don't use recycled paper. if you have surplus try and reycle them. its not hard
These are just a few suggestions, obviously haz-mats should be disposed of properly.

With this said, i think that in theater it can be difficult to be extra clean. i don't know the stats, but the pounds of greenhouse emmisions from one rock concert, from electricity generation, to moving trucks, must be substatial.
A more effective way to help our eart is to make significant reduction in the rest of our lives were being clean is facilitated.
hybrid cars are slowing making an impression on the market
and recycling programs exist nearly everywhere.
The government can also be intrumental, and don't think that writing to you poloticians isn't constuctive. if you are passionate about the environment, utilize the greatest tool give to you (by people from John Locke to Tom Jefferson, etc.) If you are unsure of what issues to be passion, but you know you want to help the environment, the sierra club has an excellent track as a lobby.
so yes heres to a happy Cleaner, greener new year
My uncle is a welder and he does the same thing. It's not that he cares about the enviroment (he has that "I can screw up the world 'cause I'll be dead when it all fails anyway" attitude), It just works and saves him money.
My uncle is a welder and he does the same thing. It's not that he cares about the enviroment (he has that "I can screw up the world 'cause I'll be dead when it all fails anyway" attitude), It just works and saves him money.

I think I know that guy ! :twisted: I call him Dad though. :oops:
Simple green is by far the best steel cleaner. I usually use mech. steel so its a bit easier to clean then structual, but all the same.
I dont do much in the terms of conservation and stuff...but working on a school crew we do our fair share of penny counting. Basically just being thrifty and not taking a set apart in 20 minutes and hauling to the dumpster does the trick. We still play name the set on our builds. Its fun to watch people in the house from YEARS ago look and then ask us if something was from a play like 20 years before..which often it was. Saves money and im aussuming a tree or two to
We recycle as much as we can, as well. Props, Furniture seem to hang around forever. I see stuff on stage in this town all the time, that I built 10 years ago ! Unfortunatly it seems that with the popularity of 3/4 thrust stages, the re-usability of scenery has really gone down. I'm glad that our job isn't just building "box" sets but sometimes I miss the re-usability of those stock shows.

Another thing we do when we strike is to get a Wood Only dumpster. These dumpsters are then routed to either a composting site, or to a processing plant where the wood gets converted into fuel for power plants.
We sometimes donate the surplus wood to local people who need to use it to keep warm in the winter (of course, they don't get any of the treated 4x4's)
I find the wastefulness of our industry frustrating, as well. And it really is difficult to get around it. As someone else mentioned, sets just aren't re-usable anymore because of the desperation designers and directors have to make every set "unique." I've tried to convince them that we can use a bulk of stock items and build a few new items to make a set "unique" but it seems to fall on deaf ears most of the time.

My other variable in all of this is the issue of space. Like probably most of you out there, I have very little space to have things hanging around for the next show. And being a TD who likes to work clean (instead of in clutter), it is very difficult to not go on "trashing binges" every few months to get rid of stuff we haven't used in years.

I also agree that Simple Green is where it's at for steel-cleaning. I just use the solution and a rag (no sawdust), and then I wash the rags with regular laundry soap and a liberal squirt of Dawn dishwashing soap. The Dawn gets rid of the grease amazingly well (also works on your clothes when you get a little grease or pneumatic oil on them).

Users who are viewing this thread