Recycling for Stagehands

Author’s note: This started as a rant on September 14th, 2019 but Jeremiah has since gotten his act together and put in references and helpful links.


Morgan and I are all about keeping our carbon footprint to a dull roar. We want to do this because we feel a responsibility as 21st century citizens to do what we can. Even if you’re a non-climate change believer, we ARE definitely using resources that are not easily (defined as within our lifetimes) replaceable or renewable.

We’ve narrowed our priorities down to 3 – RECYCLE – REUSE – REPLACE

Visit to get an approximation of what your carbon footprint is. It’s quite interesting. Our household carbon footprint (just whizzing though the calculator puts us at 14.79 metric tons of carbon.

We can’t solve the world’s environmental crisis overnight but we can help reduce our waste. Morgan and I happen to work as a 16-hour/day production and events family to participate in keeping our own carbon footprint down as much as we can. Radical change doesn’t happen overnight and believe me, it’s hard just to remember to take that plastic water bottle over to the recycling bin.

Here are some easy to implement action items for the busy stagehand:

RECYCLING: Visit this site to see what option are available to you within your zip code. There are a ton of options (pun intended) available in our area just outside Washington, DC. Doing research into my parents’ place in rural New Hampshire, there are also options including regular driveway pickups.

  • Plastics are a perfect example of products in our everyday life which tend to be more of the longer to decompose items. Single use plastics are just that – single use. They don’t have another life beyond their purchase. They cover just about everything you find in a store and you can’t but notice that everything from cheese packaging to the bags used for bread loaves is in a single use plastic. Of course there are higher grade plastics that will weather the recycling process so just make sure you rinse those before you throw them in the bin.
  • Metals items are another item that are easy to deal with. Rinse and repeat. Rinse your cans and make sure that you have a dump zone for said items. Have separate bins for cans if necessary and toss accordingly.
  • Clothing is easy. There are donation centers all over the place. If you haven’t touched a piece of clothing in 6 months or you could easily replace the item for under $20, move it along. You’ll appreciate the lack of clutter. Check out this video from the TEDx stage on Minimalism.
  • Electronics may seem hard to deal with but there are electronic recycling areas around who will take what you got. Bash your hard drives to make sure no sensitive data makes it.
  • Paper is super easy as well. I toss literally 1-3 pounds of junk mail a week into our paper recycling.
  • Glass is also easy to recycle. Clean at end of your use, separate, and put in the appropriate bins if applicable.

REUSE: there are plenty of ways you can reuse the gack you consume on a daily basis. Most of us have reusable water bottle attached to our hips. A Nalgene or even a Gatorade bottle that sits in our car that we refill with water instead of grabbing that free 20 oz. water bottle the production company provided.

  • Use those Chinese takeout plastic containers as lunch or leftover containers.
  • Stagehands…drink….coffee. No brainer as far as having a reusable coffee mug that you fill up at Starbucks or 7-11 or wherever you get your evening caffeine high.

REPLACE: This is the hardest because it requires brain activity beyond what we would prefer to put in after a 16-hour shift. That being said, anything worthwhile is is worth doing. If you’ve made it this far, you’re IN! Here are some quickie replacements:

  • Coffee/Water container – ’nuff said. Just do it.
    • Bonus commitment – refill before you go out the door with water/coffee/tea/etc
  • Food scraps can actually replace store bought items (which your future self will thank you for).
    • Scrap vinegar
    • Compost for gardens
    • Broths are great all-around additions to quick recipes
    • Dehydrators make good beef jerky for the gig
  • Paper with Email – ask for editable PDFs when filling out payment details. (Who the heck is even printing things these days!)
  • Public Transportation – if it’s in your means without being late to work, exercise local transportation methods or carpool.

Truth be told, every little action helps. Communicate with other humans you interface with and bring up the topic in conversation. The more the merrier. If Morgan and I are not doing this subject justice, do it better.



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