Blog: Eco Drama’s Carbon Innovations

1st October 2013

Eco Drama's Director Emily Reid recently contacted us to tell us about the different ways in which the company is embedding environmental sustainability into their operations and the content of their work. Here's what she told us.

Eco Drama is a touring children’s theatre company based in Glasgow.  They deliver theatre productions, drama workshops, teacher training and creative learning experiences to schools, community venues, theatres and festivals throughout Scotland.

The company are dedicated to creating meaningful experiences which engage and inspire children, young people and the wider community in the values of caring and being responsible for the natural world. Through the creative experience, the company aims to reduce carbon emissions by inspiring positive behaviour change.

Eco Drama has a green ethos at its heart and tour in the eye-catching Magic Van, run on 100% recycled vegetable oil, which helps reduce touring carbon emissions by 85%. The following case studies illustrate some of the company’s latest work and highlight the real benefits that the project is bringing to young people and communities.

The Forgotten Orchard

The Forgotten Orchard is a production written by Eco Drama for ages 8+.  The show draws inspiration from Scottish apples and our lost orchard heritage, and aims to spark imaginations and re-connect young people emotionally and intellectually with their food and where it comes from.

The show is currently being delivered to primary schools across Scotland, as well as being performed at Apple Days, festivals, community venues and theatres.  During 2012-15, Eco Drama, in collaboration with ‘The Appletreeman’ Andrew Lear, will help plant 34 school orchards across Glasgow City, as well as a community orchard at the new Townhead Village Hall in Glasgow city centre. Teachers are provided with Orchard Training and 3 Scottish apple trees to get started, made possible with support from the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund.

The Worm; An Underground Adventure

Eco Drama’s new performance for 3-7 year olds, ‘The Worm’ is an immersive, musical tale celebrating the wonder of life beneath our feet. Post-performance the audience get to see some real worms and learn about the importance of ‘worm poo’ in helping us recycle food waste and its importance in contributing to healthy nutritious soil. Nurseries and schools booking this performance receive a wormery and kitchen caddy to start them on their composting journey.

Process Drama & Creative Learning

Eco Drama have also been delivering creative learning workshops ‘Recycling Heroes’, ‘Eco Gadgets’ and ‘The Oil of Life’, all of which enable learners to explore environmental topics in greater depth through the medium of drama and inspire that we can all make a positive difference to our natural world.

The Carbon Calculator, Qualitative Evaluation & Research

Eco Drama is committed to evaluating the social and environmental impact of theatre and drama education on behaviour change, carbon emissions and on young people’s personal development. In recent years the company have developed an online Carbon Calculator, which enables both Eco Drama and schools to monitor the amount of carbon output each class of students produce both before and after the experience.  So far the carbon reductions from positive behaviour change have been significant.

Between April 2011 and March 2012, following a range of workshops and productions in West Dunbartonshire schools, the company were successful in making a CO2 reduction of 548.72 tonnes across the schools in the areas of waste minimisation, reductions in energy usage and sustainable travel.  By touring in a van run on bio diesel instead of conventional diesel fuel, a saving of 2.1 tonnes of CO2 was made to Eco Drama’s own carbon footprint during the lifespan of the tour.

To calculate the reductions made within schools, results from the ‘before’ questionnaires were inputted into the carbon calculator, which gave baseline data for current behaviours and current carbon output in relation to the three target areas – waste minimisationreductions in energy usage and sustainable travel. Then, several months after the experience and subsequent classroom activities, a second questionnaire was carried out, and the ‘after’ results inputted into the calculator.  The results were then measured using carbon data obtained from the Scottish Governments Low Carbon Route Maps for Travel & Energy, from www.wasteawarescotland.org and the TSCB Programme Support Plan Template – Number 7 ‘Tonnage/Carbon Impact Detail’. This enabled us to calculate what carbon reductions had been made from positive behaviour change in these areas.

Going forward, Eco Drama has new projects and productions that tie in with the new Zero Waste Regulations passed by the Scottish Parliament.  Carbon reductions will be calculated in the area of food waste minimisation by carrying out food waste audits in the schools we work with, again both before and several months after the experience.  The company are on track to achieving similar, if not substantially better carbon reduction results for 2012/13 and beyond.

Image courtesy of STV News

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Edinburgh Festival City Federation of Scottish Theatre Scottish Contemporary Art Network