The Greenhouse is the UK’s First-Ever Zero-Waste performance space. Through the power of storytelling, we inspire individuals to take action in response to climate change, making every day decisions to live more sustainably. We help people build individual emotional connections with their immediate natural environment, transforming the climate crisis from something unfathomable in to something they can see, feel, and ultimately, affect.
Despite caring deeply about climate change, most people feel helpless to affect its progress. In a recent study by the BSA the average person believed there was just a 44% chance that their own actions would have an effect on climate change. But in the same study, 70% of people said they are worried about the impact that climate change will have on their lives. Clearly, the information is out there – people know we are in trouble – but they feel that their actions just won’t have an impact.
We’re not talking about protest or political action here. Those things are incredibly important, but they have a tendency to shift the focus – not unfairly – away from individuals and on to institutions and governments. In a way, that contributes to the widespread sense of helplessness. By putting the responsibility of preventing a climate crisis on huge organisations, it turns the issue into something so huge that no human can ever hope to affect it.
Instead, we’re talking about personal, day-to-day decisions. Choosing a plant-based meal, mending old clothes, recycling some waste-paper. According to the New York Times, if each individual American reduced their meat consumption by just 25%, we would save about 82 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. It’s a small action at an individual level, but clearly it adds up to have a big impact. Which is exactly what we need – and fast.
Enter The Greenhouse, the first ever zero-waste theatrical project in the UK. Created for the Edinburgh Fringe 2019, this project engaged with over 160,000 people online and sold over 2,000 tickets. It was featured in The Guardian, The New York Times, and on Radio 4, as well as winning the Three Weeks Editor’s Choice Award and the Theatre Weekly Best Venue festival award. And all to promote one simple message:
Your individual actions can make a HUGE difference!
What we do
Shows – Emotional Connections – The Greenhouse presents a rotating programme of shows from many different genres. This year, we’re presenting six shows – everything from dance to Shakespeare to fairy-tales. Each is created to discuss our relationship with the natural environment in a unique and immediate way, sparking an emotional connection amongst a wide variety of audiences. They are presented in a way that encourages ‘intimacy’ between audiences and creatives, humanising the climate change debate. The venue is naturally lit and set up in-the-round, meaning performers share the space with the audience. Creatives hang around for ten minutes after the show to meet audiences, answer their questions, or just talk. No fear, no facts and figures, and most importantly, no lecturing. Simply a considerate, ‘welcoming’, deeply human exploration of why the planet is worth protecting and what these individuals can do to protect it, encouraging debate and allowing audiences to reach their own conclusions.
Workshops – PracticalSkills and Tools – Once audience members have begun building emotional connections with the natural environment, our programme of workshops gives them practical skills and tools to do something about it. Generally, our workshops are aimed at supporting people to be more sustainable in their everyday lives, although some are specifically aimed at creating sustainability within the arts. Examples of workshops from The Greenhouse 2019 include Zero-Waste Construction, Zero-Waste Marketing, and Storytelling from Nature. We believe one of the reasons people feel helpless to affect the course of climate change is because they feel they don’t have the relevant skills. This part of the project sets out to combat that idea. We are also dedicated to sharing the skills and experience we have developed by working on this project, and our workshop programme is just one of the ways we are able to do this.
Social Events and Outreach – Building a Community – It’s much easier to feel significant when you’re part of a group. In the same BSA survey mentioned earlier, the average person believed there was a 58% chance that collective action could have an effect on climate change. Our events programme brings people together in a sustainable setting – from nights of live music to nature walks – to remind them that there are plenty of other people fighting the good fight. This sense of collectivism inspires hope, helping people to realise that it’s not just them against the climate crisis – they are one of hundreds, thousands, millions of people across the world who, together, can make a huge difference.
Our outreach focuses on organisations rather than individuals, bringing artists together under a set of common, incentivised goals to create a community of organisations with a demonstrable commitment to building a greener future. Although our outreach programme is currently geared towards working with arts organisations, we plan to expand this into other industries through education and consultancy programmes over the coming three years.
The Greenhouse is a holistic project. That means we practice what we preach. It’s not enough to just encourage environmental practices, we put our money where our mouths are and lead the way in making those practices a reality.
Crucially, absolutely everything about this project, from our shows to our marketing policies to our venue itself is completely zero-waste.