Touring > Touring Shows

Getting Started: Green Touring Policy and Rider

Creating an environmental policy is a meaningful first step in any effort to improve an organization’s environmental performance. A green tour policy can help demonstrate your environmental aspirations to the touring cast, crew, vendors, venues, and audiences.  Consider creating your own policy based on the sample policy below and distributing your green touring policy to all relevant stakeholders involved in your tour. Also consult Julie’s Bicycle Environmental Policy and Action Guidelines for detailed guidance on creating an environmental policy and action plan.

You might also want to establish a green team or Green Captain responsible for identifying and implementing greener practices. See the Green Captain section of the Broadway Green Alliance website for more information.

Sample environmental policy

Human activity can have harmful effects on ecological systems and public health by contributing to serious environmental concerns such as deforestation, global warming, water pollution, and biodiversity loss. Recognizing this, [our tour] is committed to reducing our environmental footprint and promoting environmental stewardship at all levels of our organization. Our goal is to operate a world-class entertainment business and to provide an exciting experience for theatregoers while minimizing our organization’s impact on the environment and helping to preserve the ability of future generations to safely live and perform in our shared natural environment.

[Our tour] will strive to identify and purchase environmentally preferable supplies and services for all touring productions and events where economically feasible. Wherever possible, [our tour] will strive to minimize pollution and waste, conserve energy and water, protect habitats, support renewable energy resources, buy environmentally friendly products, and encourage environmentally preferable transportation. 

These efforts will extend to contractor and supplier relationships, where [our tour] will encourage contractors and suppliers serving or otherwise acting on behalf of the organization to meet our standards of environmental performance.

Employee understanding and involvement is essential to the implementation of this environmental policy. All touring staff will receive a copy of this policy and be educated about our tour’s efforts to improve our environmental performance. Staff involved in all aspects of the tour will be involved in supporting our goals.

Our commitment to environmental stewardship is long-term. A healthy environment benefits everyone – staff, cast, crew, sponsors, audiences, and the community at large.

Examples of environmental policies from the theatrical industry:

Green tour rider

To formalize environmental goals when working to secure venues, your tour can also consider including a green rider with contracts that sets out requirements for greener practices at venues where your show will appear. A green rider can be as prescriptive or aspirational as your organization chooses. Consider implementing your own green rider based on the sample rider below.  Also consult the Julie’s Bicycle Green Rider for Theatre Companies.

Sample green rider for venues:

Our tour has made a commitment to reducing the environmental footprint of all aspects of our operations and promoting environmental stewardship to our staff and audiences. This document contains the minimal requirements for environmental practices at venues contract for [our tour].  Please consider the following venue requirements:

  • Backstage Recycling: Venue will provide bins for plastics, metals, glass, paper, and cardboard boxes, along with bins for any other materials recyclable in this venue. Clearly marked bins should be conveniently located and available backstage, as well as in the house during load in and load out.  Venue will place clear and visible signage backstage indicating where recycling bins are located. Signs will also be placed on or above the recycling bins clearly showing what items should be placed in each. In the event that there is no suitable city recycling service, venue agrees to hire a private recycling company to pick up recyclable materials once a week.
  • Concessions and Public Recycling: Clearly marked recycling bins should be placed in the bar/concessions area so patrons can easily identify where they can recycle their bottles, cans, and mixed paper. A recycling bin should accompany every trash bin. They should also be placed by exits, to encourage patrons to leave their disposables behind rather than on public thoroughfares.  Where feasible, food and beverage serviceware should be recyclable and/or incorporate recycled content. If composting is available in the venue, consider switching to bio-based serviceware which is certified as compostable to ASTM standards.
  • Playbill Recycling:  Bins should be set up in the lobby for patrons to drop their unwanted Playbills.  After shows, ushers should go through bins to salvage Playbills that can be used again (no obvious usage) and place ones that cannot be used again in paper recycling bins.
  • Tour Bus Recycling:  A “recycle runner” should be designated to make a daily trip out to the tour buses and collect any plastic, glass, metal, paper, or other items that can be recycled and place them in the bins backstage.  
  • Alternative Transportation: The venue should offer and promote alternative transportation methods to the facility, such as walking, biking, public transit options, busses or shuttles, and/or carpool and hybrid incentives.
  • Lighting and Electronics: Venue agrees to use energy-efficient light bulbs in dressing rooms, offices, and other backstage areas as feasible. Power strips will be provided in dressing rooms to easily shut off electronics when not in use. Venue will also post signage in dressing rooms and backstage areas reminding cast, crew, and venue staff to turn off lights and power strips when not in use. All performance lighting should be powered down when stage areas are not in use.
  • Bathroom Fixtures: Leaky faucets waste considerable amounts of money and water, and are easy and inexpensive to fix.   All water fixtures will be checked weekly, and if any leaks are found, they will be fixed within 72 hrs. Signage will be provided in bathrooms reminding staff how to alert venue personnel about leaks.
  • Cleaning and Laundry Products: Venue should use Green Seal certified and/or biodegradable, plant-based cleaning agents and laundry detergents for all cleaning if possible, and provide for use by touring company. All dressing rooms and backstage bathrooms should have a sink with soap or cleanser available for cast members to clean out their personal mugs or water bottles.
  • Paper Products: Venues will provide post-consumer recycled paper products in public restrooms, concessions, and cast dressing rooms. All tissue products will include a minimum of 30% postconsumer content.
  • Paper Use Reduction: All staff should be instructed to reduce paper use as much as possible.  Double-sided printing, electronic communications, and email should be used whenever possible.  
  • Green Room: Venue will provide with reusable glasses and mugs for beverages in green rooms instead of disposable cups and bottled water.  A dish containing reusable spoons for mixing drinks should replace plastic stirrers. Also provide an easily accessible space to clean these items. This will not only cut down on waste, but also save money by reducing bottled water and disposable container purchases.
  • Battery Recycling: Touring Sound/Electrics departments should be given at least two designated battery collection boxes; one box for used batteries that still have charge but can no longer be used for the show, and one box for dead batteries.  Reusable batteries can either be donated to local schools or community programs or made available to local crew or touring company members to take and use for personal electronics.  Dead batteries should be safely recycled with other electronic waste (see Electronics Recycling criteria below).  
  • Electronics Recycling: A designated bin or storage room should be provided for electronic waste where touring productions can drop off old electronic equipment.   This waste should be recycled by an e-Stewards-certified electronics recycler.  For instance, STAPLES locations accept e-waste and recycle through e-Stewards certified recyclers. See the E-stewards site for a list of certified recyclers in your area. If equipment is still in working condition, it can be donated to places in need.
  • Clothing Donation: Provide wardrobe department with bins or boxes where people donate old costumes or clothing they no longer want, which can be donated to any local organizations.

Environmental benefits

Drafting an environmental policy sends a message to touring staff, cast, crew, vendors, other organizations, sponsors, and audiences that your tour considers environmentally intelligent practices an organizational priority. A green rider formalizes environmental criteria for touring venues and demonstrates to venues across the country that environmental efforts are important to touring shows.

Additional resources


Greening Practices on Tour

Theatre productions across the country face similar opportunities and challenges when pursuing sustainability initiatives.  Many of the better practices from the Pre/Post Production, Production, and Audience Engagement sections of this guide will apply to touring shows. There are also many aspects of a transient production that present unique challenges and require a different approach to environmental efforts.  Consider the tips below to incorporate greener practices on the road.

One of the challenges of a touring show is that the production is in a venue for a very limited time, and many of a tour’s environmental efforts will hinge on the existing practices and services available at each venue and its location.  Communicating in advance with each venue about your tour’s environmental efforts can help improve the chances that your greener practices can be accommodated while you are in the space.  Developing a green rider to be included in venue contracts is a useful way to formalize these efforts.  Refer to the Green Touring Policy section for more detailed suggestions for a green rider.

Energy-efficient practices on the road

Once arriving at touring venues, encourage cast and crew to use supplied dressing rooms inside the venue rather than staying in tour busses (which requires the tour bus engines to keep running). Remind drivers to turn off the engine and features such as heating, air conditioning, and lights when busses are not occupied.

When inside the venue, remind cast and crew to turn off lights and electronics when they aren’t in use.  For more information about reducing your production’s energy use in the venue, consult the Energy-Efficient Practices section of this guide.

Waste reduction and recycling on the road

There are many ways productions can cut down on waste, promote recycling programs, and find ways to reuse items. Consult the Waste Reduction and Recycling page of the Production section for more general information about reducing waste and promoting recycling.

There are also ways that touring productions in particular can cut down on waste. For example, use standardized show materials that can be reused in different touring cities, such as banners or signage, by avoiding listing dates or years, or ensure that the portions listing dates can be readily and cheaply altered. By reusing signs and banners, your show can avoid unnecessary printing costs and the environmental impacts of printing. Also avoid using vinyl (PVC) for printing signs and banners, and instead favor banners made from recycled content and/or recyclable materials.

When booking your tour, switch to electronic processing of contracts, using digital copies rather than hard copies where possible.  For more ideas about how to reduce paper use, visit the Paper Use Reduction section of this guide.

Ensuring that recycling will be available during your tour can be challenging, since you are dependent on the services available in at each venue and their municipality. Research recycling programs in tour cities, and discuss with venues what materials are recycled and how they are collected.  Also refer to the BGA’s Recycling Guidelines for Major Touring Cities.

Don’t forget to recycle waste from the road. Make sure tour busses come equipped with separate recycling containers, and instruct your travelling crew to separate recyclables. Talk to venue staff about collecting this waste upon the arrival of busses at the venue.

To cut down on waste that you generate on the road and in touring venues, considering providing all touring cast and crew members with reusable bottles. Request that venues provide reusable food containers and serviceware in green rooms and backstage areas instead of disposable items, and provide filtered water bottle refilling stations.


Greener Touring Transport

Touring shows traverse the globe each year, transporting their performers, production crews, scenery, equipment, and instruments millions of miles across the country and overseas.  This can add up to a sizeable transportation footprint, but there are many opportunities to reduce the impacts associated with touring transport.

Efficient tour schedule

Tour routes with the least environmental impact are also often the most time-efficient and cost-effective routes. When developing tour schedules with managers, agents, and promoters, try to schedule tour cities in an order that minimizes travel times and mileage.  This can be a challenge, since tour schedules are also based on venue schedules, the availability of performers, and added performances, but advance planning can help mitigate many of these challenges.  When scheduling tours, try to book cities in a proximity-basedsequence, minimizing backtracking and gaps in the tour that will require extra travel.

Transporting cast and crew

Where possible, prioritize ground transport of cast and crew instead of higher-emission air travel.  If members of your cast must fly, consider purchasing carbon offsets for air travel.

Minimize the amount of vehicles needed by your tour by coordinating crew travel in advance. Encourage car sharing among touring staff if cars are necessary, and use fuel-efficient vehicles. When traveling within touring cities, encourage cast and crew to walk, use bicycles, or take public transit, or run shuttles from public transit hubs to venue if necessary.

Greener trucking and bussing companies

Use trucking and bus companies committed to greener practices, such as proper tire inflation and reduction of idling. When buying or renting diesel trucks, buses, and equipment, specify that ultra-low sulfur fuel should be used, and that the vehicle or equipment should be equipped with the best soot-cutting filters available for the engine.

Filters are now available for most post-1994 engines that can eliminate more than 90 percent of the soot pollution, when combined with ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel. If possible, use low-emissions buses that run on cleaner fuels such as biodiesel and on-location equipment that runs on electricity.

Request that bussing companies provide postconsumer recycled content bathroom tissue and napkins, and non-anti-bacterial, biodegradable, plant-based soap products.

Talk to your trucking and bus companies about helping to provide data on carbon emissions to enable you to offset emissions from transport.  Refer to the Carbon Offsets section for more information.

For more information on ways to reduce diesel pollution, including taxes and other incentives, visit the EPA’s resources on the SmartWay Transport Partnership and the National Clean Diesel Campaign.

Environmental benefits

The transportation sector is one of the largest causes of global warming and smog, and causes the release of other harmful compounds into the air that can have serious health effects, especially on the respiratory system. Cutting down on unnecessary travel, minimizing the amount of vehicles needed for your tour, and choosing fuel-efficient and clean alternative fuel vehicles reduces the amount of gasoline or diesel used, which in turn reduces emissions associated with transportation.


Touring Hotels

Hotel operations have a variety of impacts on the environment, but there are many initiatives that can reduce their impacts while also saving money. When arranging tour hotels for cast and crew, favor hotels that offer environmentally preferable products and practices. Also consider contacting your tour’s current hotel partners to inquire about their environmental practices.

For listings of environmentally preferable hotels, visit the Green Hotel Association and Green Seal’s list of green hotels.  For a list of LEED-certified hotels, visit USGBC’s LEED Hotels Listings.

Green hotel specifications

Features to consider when selecting greener hotels include:

  • Towel and linen reuse options
  • Recycling opportunities for plastic, glass, metal, and paper in guest rooms, common areas, and conference rooms
  • Energy-efficient lights and appliances in rooms
  • Tissue products made from post-consumer recycled content
  • Local and organic food
  • Cleaning staff trained to follow environmental policy and procedures
  • Water-conserving showers, sinks, and toilets
  • Proximity to public transit or alternative transportation methods
  • Fuel-efficient transportation available for guests and staff (e.g, shuttle service)
  • Fuel-efficient grounds vehicles
  • Less toxic cleaning and laundry products
  • Food and beverage service uses reusable cutlery and napkins
  • Drinkable tap water
  • Bulk dispensers for amenities

Examples of green hotels and convention centers

–> The Orchard Garden Hotel in downtown San Francisco received LEED certification in 2007.  Some of the hotel’s green features include:

  • More than 80% of all regularly occupied spaces are daylit, reducing the need for electric lighting.
  • High levels of insulation reduce sound transmission between rooms while improving energy efficiency.
  • Bins are included in each room and common spaces for recycling.
  • One of the hotel’s most innovative features is its key card, which functions as an energy management system.  Guests insert the key card into a box near the door to activate their lighting and mechanical systems in the room.  When guests leave the room, they remove the card and turn off all systems except for one outlet to charge laptops or cellphones.  This system alone reduces energy costs by 20%.

–> The Fairmont Pittsburgh received LEED Gold certification for its construction in 2010. Among its sustainable practices and features include:

  • Regionally sourced and recycled content building materials.
  • Diversion of 99% of construction waste for recycling or reuse.
  • Energy-efficient lighting installations, which are expected to reduce energy use by 75MW annually.
  • Low-flow toilets and water-efficient fixtures, which are projected to save 930,000 gallons of water annually.
  • Low-VOC paints and carpeting with no added urea formaldehyde.
  • FSC-certified wood flooring and millwork.
  • Sustainable food options sourced from local and organic ingredients.
  • A comprehensive recycling program in all guest rooms.

–> The Vancouver Convention Centre received LEED Platinum certification in 2010, the first convention center in the world to receive this certification.  The facility’s sustainable practices and features include:

  • A six acre green roof, the largest green roof in Canada and the largest non-industrial green roof in North America.
  • A sophisticated drainage and water recovery system, which has successfully reduced potable water use by 72.6%.
  • Diverted 83% of construction waste from landfills for recycling and reuse.
  • An extensive facility-wide recycling program that recycles nearly half of all waste generated.
  • Purchase of “green power” electricity generated from low-impact renewable sources.
  • A restored marine habitat built into the foundation of the building.
  • A seawater heating and cooling system that takes advantage of the adjacent seawater to produce cooling for the building during warmer months and heating in cooler months.
  • Natural light and ventilation maximized throughout the building.

–> The Marriott Courtyard Chevy Chase in Maryland received LEED Gold certification in 2009.  Marriott plans to use this as a green prototype design to pre-register future constructions through the LEED Volume program.  The hotel chain, which already has 50 properties certified or registered for LEED certification, has announced plans to operate 300 LEED-certified properties by 2015.  Green efforts at the Courtyard Chevy Chase include:

  • 100% of electricity needs provided by wind energy.
  • High energy efficiency and water conservation efforts.
  • Downtown location in close proximity to public transit options.
  • Bicycles available for guest use.
  • Bus service readily available.
  • Bicycle racks and preferred parking for hybrid vehicles.
  • Guest recycling center.
  • Solar powered trash compactors.
  • Zero VOC paints, low VOC carpets.
  • Biodegradable cleaning products. 

Sample letter to current hotels

Dear _______,

[Our Tour] has initiated an effort to improve our environmental performance in all aspects of our operations. We would like to meet with you to discuss our objectives in more detail.

As we pursue efforts to improve our environmental performance, we would like to minimize as much as possible the environmental impacts associated with our show’s touring operations. We are particularly interested in the items listed below, and would like to discuss which of these initiatives you have already implemented:

  • Energy efficiency initiatives
  • Towel and linen reuse options
  • Recycling opportunities in rooms
  • Tissue products made from postconsumer recycled content
  • Cleaning staff trained to follow environmental policy and procedures
  • Water-conserving showers, sinks, and toilets
  • Use of less toxic cleaning and laundry products
  • Drinkable tap water

Please call me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss these issues in more detail. 

Additional resources
LEED Green Venue Selection Guide
Ceres Green Hotel Initiative
Green Key Eco-Rating Program
GreenBuilding: Hotels Best Practices Guide
Green Hotel Association list of green hotels
Green Seal Hotel Certification
US Green Building Council: Practical Strategies in Green Building – Hotels


Carbon Offsets

Your tour may want to consider reducing the net carbon emissions associated with its trucking and transportation needs by purchasing carbon offsets. When your tour buys a carbon offset, it is investing in a project – such as new renewable energy projects – that will yield a measurable reduction in future greenhouse gas emissions.

You may wish to suggest programs to the bus, truck, car, and rental companies with which you do business.  For example, Clark Transfer’s Touring Green program allows touring shows to opt in for carbon offsets to cover emissions from transporting sets, equipment, and instruments.

However, carbon offsets should not be the first option when attempting to improve the environmental profile of your transportation. The first thing to do is consider cutting down on higher-emission transportation methods like flying in favor of more efficient ground transportation.  Also consider incorporating more efficient transportation methods when traveling within tour cities, such as public transit options, carpooling, and high fuel-efficiency vehicles.  Consult the Green Transport section for more information.

Green-e and the California Climate Action Registry have certification programs to ensure the environmental quality of carbon offsets. We recommend offsets that meet the Green-e Climate Protocol for Renewable Energy and any of the Climate Action Reserve protocols. However, it is still useful to ask providers what type of projects they invest in, how they ensure that these investments deliver additional environmental benefits, and whether the projects have negative environmental impacts.

Calculate your carbon emissions.

What are carbon offsets?

Greenhouse gas offsets are investments in projects that avoid, capture or sequester emissions of greenhouse gases. When your tour buys an offset, it is investing in a new project that will cause a quantifiable decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. Examples of such projects include renewable energy projects, such as solar and wind power, and the capture of methane at agricultural facilities.

Environmental benefits

Touring shows travel thousands of miles every year to bring Broadway productions all over the country. The trucks transporting scenery, equipment, and instruments emit thousands of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. When your tour purchases offsets, you can reduce your net emissions of greenhouse gases, helping to reduce your contribution to the harmful effects of global warming.

Additional resources


Set Disposal and Recycling

When your tour closes, there are many ways to keep your show’s set, props, and costumes from ending up in a landfill. Find ways to sell, reuse, recycle, or donate set materials and costumes to local organizations.

  • Sell or donate set pieces, props, and costumes to regional theatres.
  • Offer items to production crew members or venue staff to reuse.
  • Donate costumes or textiles to nonprofits or local charities.  Visit Donation Drop Off for a national directory of donations centers, bins, sites, and thrift stores that accept donations.
  • Donate salvaged set components and props to nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity ReStore or local organizations.
  • Use websites like Craigslist or other materials exchange sites to find ways to sell or donate materials.  Visit the EPA’s list of State-Specific Exchanges for a national directory of materials exchanges.
  • Use Earth 911 to find local recycling options for different set components and costumes.
  • Work with a local waste hauler to recycle set components.  Discuss local hauler options with touring venues.