• Chronic Insanity

Chronic Insanity Carbon Footprint for 2021

In 2021 we staged 24 shows in 12 months. Here's what our carbon footprint for that year looks like

This might seem like an unlikely spread, we definitely thought that when we first calculated our footprint, but it goes to show the difference doing a predominately digital theatre offering for 2021 had on our overall footprint, and how much that impacted the carbon created as a result of all areas of production for us.

Transport costs for the year were almost entirely down to the few in person productions that we staged. Whether they were local shows in Nottingham (24, 23, 22, Criminal Intent, Maryland) or were the times we were fortunate enough to perform further afield (PVC: A Virtual Reality Ambush at Oxford Playhouse, Polly: A Drag Rebellion at Brighton Fringe, Pull at Theatre Deli, London) almost all our transport costs, the biggest contributor to our carbon footprint came from traveling around the country. The only digital production that had an impact on these figures significantly was Masque, which we filmed in Derby and so necessitated travel between there and Derby.

Shipping had a small influence over our carbon footprint, which was down to a few specific orders of equipment and resources for some of our earlier digital theatre productions for the year, a green screen set up for our virtual show Means of Production, some camera equipment for the digital version of 24, 23, 22, a few props for 52 Souls at our digital Edinburgh fringe venue, Insanity Point. The biggest decrease on this aspect of our carbon footprint is that we try our hardest as an organisation not just to reuse resources (equipment, props, costume, etc) but to only buy these resources, and therefore have them shipped to us, when we know we'll be able to reuse them multiple times. Coupling that with buying from local shops, particularly Nottingham's phenomenal crop of second hand shops, gives us a relatively low figure for shipping carbon for the past year.

If any comparison sticks in your mind then let it be this one. Even with comparatively few in person productions this past year, about 25% of our output, the figure for audience carbon footprints for those productions is 45 times higher than for our digital audiences across the other 75% of productions. That means that means our average in-person production has 136x the audience carbon footprint of our average digital show. Even when controlling for audience size the figures still stand miles apart form each other, a stark reminder that digital theatre will always not only be more accessible and affordable but also more sustainable by an order of magnitudes on in-person theatrical production.

Something that helped reduce our energy use was by working from home, and having our home energy supplier use 100% renewable energy, hence the zero footprint influence from generic uses of energy, such as charging laptops or other equipment. This is one of the factors that reduced our footprint the greatest, especially coupled with a mainly digital theatre output for the year. Even with the 1500 emails we sent and 5 hours a week of video calls this aspect of our carbon footprint hardly makes a dent in the overall figure for us as a company.

So where does that leave us. Mainly, it leaves us very grateful for Pigfoot Theatre, who's post earlier last year inspired us to keep track and calculate our footprint. We used the resources they suggested to work this all our for ourselves so, if you want to calculate your carbon impact, then please follow their lead like we did! We've come away from this process understanding where we contribute the most carbon and it has already shipped our production planning process for 2022 for the better.

For 2022 we're going to try and implement our own carbon offset strategy at Chronic Insanity to make sure that carbon is not only offset per project, but by an order of magnitudes per project to try and make up for carbon not able to be offset by other theatrical productions. Carbon offsetting is a complicated process, when considering finding a properly accredited offset scheme that will meaningfully and duration ally offset carbon, let alone the razor thin budgets that live performance is often made with, so we're happy to over-offset in order to do our part in canceling out the current difficulties other theatre makers might find in offsetting carbon meaningfully themselves.

However, if you're a production company or freelancer with the means to calculate your impact in this way, and you're able to offset the result then what are you waiting for, you might as well! We all know that corporations and the super wealthy have the brunt of the work to do to try and minimise the climate catastrophe, which should be enforced more on a governmental level, but you might as well do what you can when you're able to to help out. This doesn't go away with us waiting on the sidelines, they won't blink first, and we should all be the change we want to see in the world.

Anyway, the emergence of a rant normally means I've said all I have to say, so good day to you all, and thank you for reading!

Joe x

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