Walking The Talk on Green Media
Most films, videos, and other electronic media about social and environmental problems have fallen short on proposing sustainable solutions to the malaise that they often so eloquently portray. And even more are less than conscious of the complicity of their own industry and profession with enabling some of the problems portrayed in their programs. Thankfully, there has been a recent spate of media presenting sustainable solutions to environmental problems and helping audiences understand how they can make changes in the daily flow of their lives to act in a more conscious way.
Several people have also stepped forward to help the media industries walk the talk by setting up the GreenCode Project for The Media Industries, which they describe as “a set of modest, voluntary, self-monitored environmentally friendly eco-actions, guidelines, standards and principles that encourage ecologically friendly sustainability. Goals we can all buy into, at our own self-selecting levels, from a suite of options and menus of recommendations for improvement in our workplaces and on our productions. From using fair trade coffee to sourcing eco-friendly suppliers. From reducing waste on location, to counting carbon impacts, to using production car co-ops.”
The Greencode Project effort to green the screen is largely a Canadian-based international ”greenmedia” and “green-roots movement” led by a group of Canadian filmmakers, mostly centered in Quebec, and led by Marie-France Côté and also Peter Wintonick, best known as the co-director of the film Manufacturing Consent about Noam Chomsky. The project is working under an umbrella of a non-profit educational institute researching green media across all its definitions, and developing with the industry, sets of guidelines, and eventually a GreenCode certification process.
They set up a website which will feature best practices from around the world as companies and makers begin to adhere to GreenCode suggestions and principles. The site alludes to the little-known fact that the environmental footprint left by California’s media industry creates more greenhouse gases than the apparel, hotel, or aerospace industries in the region. So it behooves the media industries in California and elsewhere to do something about it. Failure to act will inevitably put the media industry in the odd position of environmentalist leader Al Gore, whose 20,000 square foot house spurred charges of hypocrisy by groups and individuals opposed to his positions in the film An Inconvenient Truth.
As they explain on the website, "Until now, there has not been a pan-industry set of goals and standards created specifically for, and by, the media industries. In different parts of the world, there have been number of positive individual and local initiatives, and proactive best-case examples that the greencodeproject hopes to highlight and bring together. Eventually, facilitated by the greencodeproject, these types of actions will establish themselves as self-regulated norms across the industry. After all, it didn’t take long for the mainstream media industry to adopt standards for more ethical treatment of animals. Now it’s time to treat the Earth, and humanity, with similar respect."
The GreenCode Project effort has only been a year in the forming, but as a rapidly expanding, inclusive phenomenon, it is making some rapid moves by presenting at major film festivals and attracting industry sponsors and interest. For example, the GreenCode Project effort was brainstormed at Sheffield’s Doc/Fest and Amsterdam’s IDFA festival last fall, and the website was launched at the HotDocs Canadian International Documentary Festival.
It will also have a high profile at the SILVERDOCS documentary festival in the Washington DC area in June, with some important US guests appearing on GreenCode panels and events. SILVERDOCS is one of the first media festivals to declare itself carbon neutral, another happy sign of the times. The GreenCode movement is also proliferating internationally and has already secured commitments from dozens of media groups and festivals, and organizations like the National Film Board of Canada, Amsterdam’s Greenpeace International Images Division, itself a big producer of media, and Australian based, Co2-free Carbon offsetter Carbon Planet.
Such rapid adoption and expansion will be needed to achieve meaningful impact. The Green Code organizers would do well to emulate the work around The Ceres Principles that for almost two decades has approached environmental issues and sustainability solutions from the point of view of a national network of investors, environmental organizations and other public interest groups working with companies and investors. The Ceres principles rode the wave of a public desire for action in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster. Hopefully the Green Code movement can galvanize comparable action based upon the need to act now, as well as multiple dimensions of sustainability principles.Tweet