Guide for sustainable artistic work at the Theatre Academy

What should I take into account when planning ecologically sustainable productions at the Theatre Academy?

Towards more ecologically sustainable productions at the Theatre Academy

  • Rehearse and try.
    • Ecologically sustainable activities can be rehearsed with support at the Theatre Academy.  Consider what you want to try and learn about ecological sustainability during this production.

  • Take advantage of the support, competence and knowledge offered by the different departments of TTP.
    • The support services for artistic work (TTP) help to take ecological sustainability into account in all stages of production, from design to dismantling.

  • Set targets for sustainability and monitor their implementation.
    • Could setting a common goal for one or more working groups right away during the planning stage help to focus attention and resources on issues relevant to production and learning? The targets should also be communicated to TTP so that they can support the meeting of these targets where possible.

  • Reserve enough time.
    • Enough time should be reserved for exploring, experimenting with and preparing ecological alternatives. It is also easier to keep equipment and goods in good condition when working at an easy pace and staying on schedule.

  • Take advantage of TeaK’s wide range of selections.
    • The most ecological starting point for designing and brainstorming is the use of existing goods, materials, clothing and technology at the Theatre Academy. Explore existing selections and storerooms already during the planning stage.

  • Experiment for as long as possible with items in the building.
    • Try ideas in rehearsals first with existing costumes, props and sets. Do not plan any purchases or fabrications with TTP until the ideas have been fully fleshed out.

  • Plan for the end right from the start.
    • The future life of materials, props, sets and costumes should be considered with TTP already during the production planning stage. How can you jointly ensure that as much as possible will be dismantled, stored, maintained and/or later reused as is or modified?

  • Take care and use correctly.
    • Items borrowed and acquired will remain useful for future users when they are used correctly and treated with care. If, for example, you plan to use an item in a way other than for its intended use, first discuss the matter with the relevant TTP department. Almost all ideas can be come up with together by discussing and planning a good and sustainable approach.

  • Use discretion when using messy materials and consumables.
    • For example, various fluids, clay, soil, sand, glitter and food can be harmful to equipment, materials, working group health and facilities. If electronic equipment is damaged beyond repair by these materials, keep in mind that the manufacture of new equipment places a considerable burden on the environment. The longer the equipment remains intact and in use, the more ecological it will be. Using messy materials also increases the need for cleaning and maintenance. Discuss the use of messy materials with each TTP department before experimenting with them. The use of fire and hazardous materials also requires joint discussion and planning.

  • Learn your lessons.
    • During the final stage of the production, repeatthe ecological sustainability targets you set earlier, assess how effectively they were met and go over what was learned through the production together. Sharing lessons, experiences and ideas with other students, teachers and TTP benefits everyone and promotes the ecological sustainability of the entire Theatre Academy.

Stage and set-building

Advice for students:

  • Present your plan in good time.
    • Review the production plans and any ecological sustainability targets with the supervising teacher and stage manager at the beginning of the planning process. This will allow you to plan the production together and get support for implementing your artistic ideas in the most ecologically sustainable way.

  • Use what’s already on hand.
    • Use as much of the items found in the stage storeroom, recycled from other sources and purchased as the basis for planning and implementation. You can also find out whether there are usable goods, sets or materials left over from currently running productions that you could use.

  • Use screws, fittings, upholstery studs or hook-and-loop straps for attachments.
    • This allows for faster dismantling and makes the reuse of materials easier. Only use adhesives if they are needed for set durability, safety or some other reason.

  • Find substitute materials.
    • Together with the stage manager, consider whether environmentally-unfriendly materials could be substituted with a more sustainable alternative that looks the same. For example, metal, glitter or stage carpets can be replaced by different methods.

  • Remember the possibilities offered by fabrics and carpets.
    • If you want to change the atmosphere of the space, avoid painting and take advantage of other methods.  For example, a black box can be made lighter by using dance mats or large pieces of fabric found in the storerooms.

  • Take care of paint waste.
    • When working in the paint shop and light/sound/set studio, pour the first water used to clean painting equipment into a hazardous waste barrel/container.

  • Return borrowed tools, materials and supplies to their correct places.
    • Always return the materials you borrow to where they belong.

  • Carefully consider the use of messy materials.
    • Please note that all TTP departments must approve the use of all allergenic, messy, dusty and organic substances. There is always a good solution for a production when the plan is drawn up together and in good time.

  • Plan for the reuse, dismantling and recycling of sets.
    • In cooperation with the stage manager, plan for the reuse and dismantling of the set before purchasing. Permanent storage is usually not possible because there is little storage space.


Advice for students:

  • Use discretion when borrowing goods and only borrow when necessary.
    • Endless experimenting with a large volume of goods is not ecological because it consumes goods and requires a lot of maintenance. If experimentation and testing are not necessary for learning or artistic work, save nature by reducing the amount of borrowing and, in turn, wear and tear on goods.

  • Take advantage of prop staff expertise.
    • Consult with the prop masters on what might be an ecologically sustainable and appropriate way to make a production using props found in the storeroom or those fabricated or purchased for use in the production.

  • Treat the goods you borrow well and use them appropriately.
    • For example, keep eyeglasses in a storage case to avoid scratching them.

  • Report any breakage (even minor) as soon as possible.
    • The sooner (and with a lower threshold) you report breakage, the easier it is for the prop staff to repair or replace it.

  • Borrow goods suitable for your purposes from the prop inventory.
    • Together with the prop staff, you will surely find the appropriate item for your purposes. For example, do not use a fragile, decorative walking stick as a baseball bat.  Think about how you can minimize the risks of breaking props, so that the props that are key to your production do not break in the middle of a performance.

  • Avoid disposable containers.
    • Avoid using disposable containers and other disposable items whenever possible. If the production requires disposable dishes, purchase paperboard dishes and ensure that they are recycled for paperboard collection.

  • Use discretion when purchasing flowers and plants.
    • Purchase waste flowers or fair-market flowers if you need to use cut flowers. Plants can be borrowed from the prop inventory. If you purchase green plants for a production, put them in the prop inventory after use.

  • Think about whether you are using the right food, especially if the food will not be eaten
    • Buy only as much as the production requires in order to avoid wasting food.


Advice for students:

  • Take advantage of costume staff expertise.
    • Consult with the costumers on different outfit options and what could be an ecologically sustainable way to make costumes.

  • Borrow costumes as needed.
    • Endless experimenting with a large amount of costumes is not ecological because this will require a lot of costume maintenance. Of course, it is sometimes necessary to try and test things, but if this is not central to learning, save nature by reducing the amount of costumes borrowed and, in turn, the amount of laundry to be done.

  • Treat costumes well.
    • Store clothing, wigs and shoes in their designated places (e.g. a clothes rack) and on hangers suitable for them. The Theatre Academy does not employ costumers, so it is important that you learn how to care for costumes and store them properly yourself. This will ensure that the costumes last for the entire duration of the production run and stay in good shape for the next users.

  • Wear undergarments.
    • It is a good idea to wear, for example, a t-shirt or other undergarment to absorb most of the sweat and oil from the skin. These undergarments should also be easy to wash. This reduces the need to maintain the actual costumes and protects them from excessive wear and tear.

  • Do not use strong fragrances.
    • Strongly scented deodorants and perfumes stick firmly to fabric fibers, thus increasing the need for washing and stronger detergents.

  • Take care of your shoes.
    • Use socks and insoles whenever possible as they protect your shoes. It is a good idea to remove them from the shoes between rehearsals/performances so that the shoes can properly dry and air out after wearing. Also use a shoehorn in order to keep the shoe heel intact. The use of a shoehorn saves shoes, especially when making quick changes and you don’t have time to untie and retie the shoelaces.

  • Carefully consider the use of messy materials.
    • These include various fluids, clay, soil, sand, glitter and food. These materials increase the need for costume maintenance and cause wear and tear. They can also be harmful to washing machines and sewers. The use of fire and the protection of clothing against fire must also always be discussed in advance.

  • Keep highly used and rarely used clothing separate.
    • This makes it easier to avoid doing unnecessary laundry. Dividers can be used on costume racks to make organizing easier.

  • Take care of any necessary costume maintenance during rehearsals.
    • Highly used clothing must be washed frequently enough to prevent sweat, skin oil and dirt from getting embedded in the clothing. This also extends the service life of the garment. Costumes are taken care of by costume maintenance, and you are responsible for notifying them when a costume needs maintenance. (During a production run, production costume maintenance is scheduled in advance.)

  • Bring in damaged costumes for repair.
    • If your costume or shoes are damaged in any way, bring them in for repair as soon as possible. This prevents the damage from getting worse and makes repairs easier. Keeping clothing and shoes in use for as long as possible is in everyone’s interest.

  • Take the ecological aspects of costume design into account.
    • It makes sense for a costume designer to utilize and modify existing costumes and fabrics at the Theatre Academy. You should also look for materials at flea markets. If you purchase new materials or clothing, pay attention to quality, durability, suitability and certification. Also pay attention to the possibilities of costume maintenance when assembling costumes. 

Wardrobe’s own ecological choices

Translation coming soon.

Tips for designers

How can you, as a costume designer, work sustainably?  

As a designer, think about how you would like to incorporate ecological thinking into your costume design or practices. The wardrobe staff can help and guide you to seek information and to commit to work more sustainably with your costume designs. We are also eager to learn more about sustainability. Here are some perspectives on designing and creating more ecologically sustainable costumes. 

Ecological costume design starts from a circular economy approach, which means considering the life cycle of a costume with every choice you make. The design considers the entire performance season, including costume maintenance, and the post-performance life of the costumes, i.e. what happens to them after the performances are over.   

Ecology can also be considered in terms of learning sustainable working methods and design processes. Costume design is guided by different, sometimes conflicting, values: the artistic content of the performance, the budget, the time available for work (both for the costume designer and the wardrobe staff) and environmental sustainability. Even if the structure of the performance, artistic goals or schedule might not support sustainable choices at everything, it is good to take into consideration what parts of the process do give a possibility to make the environmentally friendly choice. 

Could ecology be seen in the same way as, for example, a budget – if there is not enough money, something must be changed?   

Click here to download The Theatre Green Book, which gives you a good basic understanding of how to make theatre productions in a responsible and ecological way.  

When doing your costume design at the Theatre Academy, please pay attention to the following points:   

  • Design: 
    • Could the costume design be based on existing garments? 
    • Endless experiments with a large amount of clothes are not ecological, because it causes a lot of costume maintenance.     
    • Do you have enough time to look for and order ecological alternatives for fabrics and clothes? Poor quality choices are often a result of lack of time and money. 
    • Consider the Wardrobe staff’s effort to make reusable costumes. Such methods can be more time-consuming, for example sewing on decorations instead of glueing them on. We also like to discuss material choices with you for the same reason. 

  • Materials and finished costumes:  
    • Our costume storage is available for you. We will modify the garments according to sustainable principles. It is not ecologically sustainable to modify clothes so that they are no longer suitable for further use or cannot be washed. Please also pay attention to the durability of the costumes in use.  
    • It is good to pay attention to the ecology and ethics of materials. It is not always easy. They are affected by the conditions under which the raw materials are grown or manufactured, as well as by the processes used to make and shape the fabric.  You should also consider the ecological and ethical implications of clothing manufacture. Get to know about the different certifications available.   
    • Our fabric stock is available for you to use. The use of fabrics from storage is an ecological choice. They are already here and no longer need to be manufactured or transported. Use what you have. Stock fabrics also do not incur additional costs for production.    
    • We recommend doing second-hand shop tours. Clothes are recycled and therefore more ecological. The range of styles is often wider than in ready-made clothing shops and the prices are lower.  Sometimes what you bought might be a miss, but clothes made from good materials can be used in the future for other productions at the Theatre Academy.     
    • You can find nice materials from second-hand shops, too.  It is possible to make fabric finds or use clothes as material. However, we hope that you will pay attention to the fabric qualities and their compatibility. A costume that breaks because of a poor material choice and cannot be reused, and will therefore not be ecological, even if its materials are purchased second-hand. 
    • When buying footwear, pay attention to the materials. They should be breathable and moisture-wicking. Leather shoes, if well cared for, will last for years of use. They are easier to repair, and the chemicals and solvents used are less toxic than those required for synthetic leather and coated leather shoes. Leather and fabric footwear can also be painted with less toxic paints. 
    • It is a good idea to consider costume maintenance from the very beginning of the design process. The most ecological way to do maintenance is to wash costumes in a full washing machine. Ideally all the costumes from a production can be washed together in a couple of full washing machines, so it would be good if the colours and materials could be washed together. How would this kind of thinking affect the creative process? 

  • Dyeing:  
    • Fabrics and clothes can be dyed in the wardrobe if required. 
    • When choosing the fabric for dyeing, it is a good idea to consider what kind of dyes are possible to use for that material. Synthetic dyes can be harmful to nature and humans, even toxic. The dyeing conditions, bulk dyeing, additional chemicals, and bleaching agents all add to the mix. To put it simple, undyed fabrics are the most ecological and dyed fabrics are the least ecological. 
    • Think about whether natural dyes could be an option. The challenges with natural dyes are the limited choice of colours, the availability of dyes, the time required for dyeing and the permanence of the colour. With natural dyes, you have to think about how much, how strong and how precise the colours in the costume have to be.  
    • For special effect materials, you can also think about alternative, more ecological solutions. For these, too, the durability of the material in relation to the duration of the performance must be considered.  

More information on dyeing and ecology:  

The BioColour research project offers a comprehensive information package on colour; videos, podcasts, publications and links. The BioColour project is developing new methods for the production and use of bio-dyes.  Click here to read about BioColour research project.

On Taito Association’s  Dyes and Dyeing Green article you can find more information about textile dyeing in general, natural dyes and bio-dyes. Read the article here, (only in Finnish only). 

This section was written with the help of costume design teacher Susanna Suurla from Aalto University.   

For more information, please contact 

Light, sound and AV

Advice for students:

  • Reduce power consumption
    • Turn on the lighting, audio and AV equipment only when you want to use them. LED lights turn on when power is supplied even if you are not using them yet – the light fan will turn on, the displays will turn on, thus consuming power.
    • Choose high-quality LED lights. LED lighting is the primary choice in all performance venues. Incandescent and halogen bulbs are extremely inefficient light sources, In halogen bulbs, about 95% of energy is converted to heat and only 5% is used to generate light.
    • Turn off the lights when you leave the facility and turn off all power at the end of the day.

  • Take care of the equipment you use
    • Carry equipment carefully in transport boxes (cases) and on carts intended for moving and transporting equipment.
    • Set aside enough time for moving, building and dismantling equipment. Haste often results in dents, scratches and even damaged equipment.
    • Power cords and other equipment are attached to the roof grid, trusses, etc. with Spannfix. Do not use tape.
    • There is a place for everything. After use, return the equipment to its proper place. Do not leave equipment in the corner of a performance venue or on a case to gather dust. Instead, put equipment into their respective cases or, for example, put lights in their place on the rack.
    • Always cover the light and sound console with a hood at the end of the day. Do not eat or drink on or next to equipment.
    • Coil power cords correctly so that the wire will not twist and sustain damage. Do not use electrical tape – use a hook-and-loop (Velcro) strap attached to the cord. A TTP support person will advise you, if necessary.
    • Do not hesitate to consult TTP personnel if you are unable to use the equipment. Sound, light and AV equipment breaks when misused. Equipment manuals can be easily found in Trail, and light and sound department support personnel will guide you in the correct use of the equipment.
    • Inform your support person if you find that the equipment you are using is out of order and clearly mark the broken device (date, name, fault assessment and how the fault occurred). A support person will take the appliance to a service point for repair or send it for maintenance. 

  • Recycle and purchase wisely
    • Avoid using disposable products and consult your support person when making purchases. This will help you avoid making potentially unnecessary or incorrect purchases.
    • Return used energy-saving bulbs, LEDs and fluorescent tubes to the WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment) collection point. Your support person or Info staff will help you find the right collection container. You can also give the above-mentioned bulbs, lights and tubes to your support person for recycling. Halogen and incandescent bulbs can be disposed of with mixed waste. Recycling decommissioned lamps is important as they can be used to recover valuable materials for reuse (LEDs are composed of 88% glass, 5% metals and 7% other materials). In addition to bulbs/lights/tubes, other lighting fixtures, such as decorative lamps and Christmas light sets, light therapy lamps and lamps with fixed luminaires must be placed in the WEEE container.
    • If possible, always use rechargeable batteries. Other empty batteries and small appliance batteries can be taken to Info. Tape the battery terminals before putting them in the collection container to prevent fire hazards. More than half of the raw materials contained in batteries can be reused.
    • Before cutting a piece of new lighting film, try used coloured films that are in good condition. Used films can be found in the cutting station drawers. Mark the films that are in good condition and sort them in the drawers after use. 

Further information

You can find additional information in the following links: