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The Sustainability Channel

How to Reduce the Carbon Footprint of your Content (In Less Than 400-Words)

APR discuss the advertising industries power to create lasting solutions in the fight against climate change and the ways content can reduce your carbon footprint

How to Reduce the Carbon Footprint of your Content (In Less Than 400-Words)

From the messages we convey to how our content is actually produced, the advertising industry is in a position of unequivocal power to create lasting solutions in the battle against climate change. Yet we find that many brands, agencies, and production companies still aren’t quite sure where to begin this journey. APR has created this small article to help.

In fewer than 400-words, here are five tangible ways you can reduce the carbon footprint of your content today:


1. Removing 'Baked-In' Creative Emissions


In the quest for sustainability in content production, too often the focus falls solely on waste management or renewable energy, which are incredible tools in their own rights. But how often do you consider the carbon emissions that may be “baked-in” to your creative?

For example, did that last campaign really need to be shot on a beach halfway across the world? Did that scene really require the release of thousands of plastic balloons into the atmosphere, or could the same effect be accomplished in post-production? Travel, alone, accounts for nearly 40% of the carbon emissions in the film and broadcast production industry (source: Albert), and we fully expect this figure to be even higher for the ad industry. Much of that travel is 'baked-in' to a script before production planning has even commenced. Encouraging alternative solutions centred on sustainability during creative development is a surefire way to reduce the carbon footprint of your content.


2.  Switching to Renewable Energy


Ultimately, no matter how much waste you cut from your productions or how rarely you travel, your organisation will still produce thousands of tons of carbon emissions per year. Switching to 100% renewable energy is therefore an instrumental way to reduce the carbon footprint of your content. It’s also the simplest method, as switching to renewable energy is usually as easy as contacting your energy supplier - and often cheaper, too.


3.   Encouraging Partners to Switch to Renewable Energy


In this same vein, if your agency and production partners expend carbon emissions to produce your content, then your content will never be carbon neutral/zero  - no matter how green your own operations are. Brands hold tremendous sway here. So long as a brand demands that its external partners operate on renewable energy, those partners will quickly follow suit.


4. Recycling Set Designs & Shoot Waste


From small set designs to massive artificial environments, productions can leave behind a plethora of materials that can be recycled or repurposed for further use. Unfortunately, though, many of these materials wind up in a landfill - expending even more energy to break down and transport the leftover waste. Consider how your set pieces could be recycled for other campaigns or repurposed by local organisations for other uses.


5.  Offsetting Unavoidable Emissions


While we wish for a perfectly carbon-neutral world, sometimes carbon emissions are unavoidable. Only after ensuring that you’ve done everything in your power to reduce the carbon footprint of your content should you look to purchase carbon offsets to counterbalance the surplus. By investing in carbon offsetting - through the planting of forests or by funding the development of wind farms, for example - you may offset the emissions you are forced to produce.


BONUS: Normalising Sustainability Through Advertising

Lastly, advertisers hold tremendous power when it comes to facilitating social discussions through their work. This is most evident in the move toward more diverse representation in media - but this same logic can be applied to sustainability. By showcasing people engaging in sustainable lifestyles or activities, their behaviours are normalised, thus empowering consumers to make more sustainable choices in their own lives.


APR Empowers Marketers to Reduce Their Carbon Footprints

APR actively works with clients to educate them on the importance of sustainability within production, providing expert advice on how to activate many of the above tactics - with a focus on how to move past theory and into practice. APR works with these clients to develop and implement a Carbon Reduction Strategy for content production. Contact Traci Dunne in the UK (tdunne@aprco.com) or Carol Pock in the US (cpock@aprco.com) for more information. 

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