Case Study: Green Touring and Catherine Wheels

26th September 2019

Case Study: Green Touring and Catherine Wheels

A Catherine Wheels staff member holding touring supplies

With the environmental impact of touring becoming increasingly widely discussed, more and more touring companies and artists are working out how to do 'Green Touring'. This case study discusses the issues as well as the innovative solution developed by Catherine Wheels.

Sustainable Touring Guidance

We’re pleased to see that the recently published Federation of Scottish Theatre Touring Code of Practice highlights the importance of considering sustainability when planning tours and recommends our advice on researching local transport, picking greener accommodation, and planning tours efficiently to minimise transport emissions. There are lots of resources available to work on this but especially  smaller organisations can find the prospect intimidating given the potentially chaotic environments that touring can entail.

A number of Green Arts Initiative members have been rising to this challenge. Catherine Wheels recently developed a Green Wheels Touring kit, which aims to support artists to prevent waste and reduce the use of resources while on tour and includes items such as re-usable cups and cutlery and quick-drying towels. The toolkit has been positively received by artists and has prompted new conversations about sustainability between the company and artists.

Here they discuss how they went about doing it:

The Green Wheels Touring Kit

What we did – We created an itemised kit list – this is a list of things that might encourage re-use/less waste, including reusable coffee cups, water bottles, and a quick-dry towel. The latter was a suggestion from one of the team, that they’d like to reduce their environmental impact when staying at accommodation for just one night. And the list has a blank space for them to make their own suggestion.

How it works – We set a small budget (approx. £20-30 per person, depending on the number in the team). They list the things they would like – and think they would use – in order of preference and we buy what we can depending on the cost. If they have made their own suggestion that sounds worth trying but it costs more than the budget, we’ll see if we can buy it.

No bulk buying – This was a conscious decision not to buy a bulk order of branded water bottles, or the usual canvas bags. We didn’t want to create waste before we’d even begun. Yes, it’d be lovely to have branded cups but if we ended up with even one cup unused it would have been the wrong decision. Also it was a way of buying for the individual. We feel it needs to be their own decision, to fit the individual, and be something they can take on – we can give encouragement but at the end of the day it’s up to them if they change their behaviour.

The van – as part of Green Wheels Touring we also looked at what changes we could make for the van. This is still very much a trial, at the moment we’ve got shopping bags which are stashed in the door and we’re looking if just one big recycling bag would make recycling possible – the van is often jam packed and space is tricky.

Over to you

This innovative solution allowed them to minimise the environmental impact of their touring while taking into account the needs of the individual members of their team. The kit allowed them to prioritise what was most important but left crucial room for flexibility and responding to the unknown circumstances that can come up when touring. Is this the kind of solution that could work for you? Or what might you do differently to tackle the issue of green touring?


#GreenArts Day: Wednesday 14th March 1Catherine Wheels are a member of our Green Arts Initiative: a networked community of practice for Scottish cultural organisations committed to reducing their environmental impact. It is free to become part of the community, and there are lots of resources and case studies (like this one!) to support #GreenArts organisations. Take a look at our Green Arts Initiative page for more information.

You can find out more about Catherine Wheels here. 

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