Simple ways to make the Production Industry more Charitable in 2019

The arrival of the holiday season often means gathering with our loved ones, sharing meals together, and exchanging tokens of our affection by way of gifts.  While it’s lovely to celebrate with those who are dearest to us, the end of the year is also an excellent time consider the ways we might be of service in our broader community.  The Producer offers these tips for helping production professionals making a positive impact in their community in the New Year.

  1. Advocate for Eco-Friendly Policies on Set

    Ditch the single-use plastics.

We all know that when unchecked, production can be a pretty wasteful process.  Avoiding single-use plastic is one of the best ways to be mindful of production waste. Plastic water bottles are seemingly ubiquitous on shoots, but finding an eco alternative is easier than one might think!

The Devils Workshop Drawing by Roz Chast - The New Yorker Dec 17, 2018 issue

The Devils Workshop Drawing by Roz Chast - The New Yorker Dec 17, 2018 issue

Ask the entire crew to bring their own water bottle and have a water cooler with refillable 5-gallon jugs on set.

If you are on location or single-use items are unavoidable, waste designated for the landfill can be lessened by reminding the crew about mindful recycling practices.

You may even consider asking brand partners on larger productions to sponsor reusable water bottles and mugs for crew to use.  In our experience, brands are generally glad to do this as it means that they have another opportunity to get their logo out in the world. Everyone wins when being environmentally responsible.

Prioritize socially responsible vendors.

Encourage catering companies to bring actual silverware and plates instead of single-use versions of these items. Even when caterers bring recyclable versions of these products, studios tend to toss them rather than recycle. If we let our vendors know en masse that we are favoring companies who are making sustainable choices, we can collectively make a broader changes toward a more socially-responsible industry.

Recycle what you can’t reduce

It’s inevitable that there will be some waste, but put policies in place to recycle whatever you can.  Make sure your set has receptacles for recyclable goods, and ensure that you have a way to get those items to a recycling center.  Finally, it’s important to make sure the entire crew is aware of these sustainability practices before the actual shoot days. A simple note when sending the call sheet is a good way of alerting the crew that they are encouraged to bring their own water bottle and make use of the recycling.

2. Mitigate food waste

One other aspect of tackling production waste is the leftover food. Offering leftovers to the crew is the first & easiest option, but when leftovers remain, what do you do?

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Many shelters no longer accept food that is not packaged due to food-borne illness concerns, however, I have been donating food leftovers to The Catholic Worker in New York City and they accept everything very graciously.

Catholic Worker
36 East First Street
New York NY 10003
Phone: 212-777-9617

(Their general hours are 8am-8pm, but keep in mind that they typically can't accept donations from 10am-noon or 5-6pm because they are serving food at those times.)

3. Donate non-returnable props and wardrobe

The agency or client may have a policy in place dictating whether leftover wardrobe & props must be shipped back to the client, or if they can be donated. This is usually something I confirm a few days before the start of the shoot, so that the styling departments are prepared. If items need to be sent back to the agency, production can support the styling teams by having a shipping plan in place to get those goods outta there!

If the agency & client agree to donations, there are many great options nation-wide. Almost every city or small town has a Goodwill or Salvation Army, but often times, there are smaller donation organizations whose efforts are more targeted, perhaps in line with your own philanthropy efforts or personal beliefs.

  • In NYC: The Bowery Mission

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The Bowery Mission will gladly accept all clean and gently-used men’s clothing items. Their most needed items include jeans; professional clothing and shoes. They will also accept women’s clothing, but limit their donations to new clothing options, only. You can find more information about items that they will and will not accept by following this link.

The Bowery Mission accepts donations Monday – Saturday, 7am – 7pm at the front desk of the Bowery campus in Manhattan. If you have any questions regarding your donation, you can email in advance of your drop-off.

The Bowery Mission
227 Bowery
New York, NY 10002
Phone: 800-BOWERY-1

  • In NYC: Housing Works

    Housing Works is “a healing community of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. [Their] mission is to end the dual crises of homelessness and AIDS through relentless advocacy, the provision of lifesaving services, and entrepreneurial businesses that sustain [those] efforts.”

Housing Works accepts donations at any of their thrift shops or cafes during business hours. You can find a list of their locations by following this link. For a list of acceptable and unacceptable items, please follow this link. It’s also worth noting that they will pick up furniture that is in excellent condition, although you’ll want to schedule your pick up several days in advance.

For general inquiries about Housing Works or its programs and services, you can reach them at: (347) 473-7400 or

  • In NYC: Women in Need

    For more than 33 years, Win has provided safe housing, critical services, and ground-breaking programs to help homeless women and their children rebuild their lives. Win only accepts new items, so please keep this in mind when arranging your donations.

    They accept deliveries on Monday, Wednesday & Friday between 9am & 5pm through their donation space located on 105th Street. Due to their constraints, they do ask that those who wish to donate contact them via this donation form, first, to ensure their items are needed.

    Phone: 212-695-4758

  • In LA: Downtown Women’s Center


In operation for 40 years, The Downtown Women’s Center focuses exclusively on serving and empowering women experiencing homelessness and formerly homeless women. Their mission is to end homelessness for women in greater Los Angeles through housing, wellness, employment, and advocacy.

They accept donations on Monday through Sunday between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m at:
Downtown Women’s Center Day Center
442 S. San Pedro Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Or… Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and Saturday between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m at:
MADE by DWC Resale Boutique
325 S. Los Angeles Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

For more information about acceptable items, follow this link.

Phone: (213) 680-0600
E: Contact form

  • In LA: Los Angeles Mission

    The Los Angeles mission exists to provide help, hope and opportunity to men, women and children in need. This Christian organization addresses homelessness, addiction and poverty by providing residential and non-residential addiction programs, giving tangible help to those in need (food, clothing, and transitional/supportive housing), and supporting literacy, education, and training for employment. You can learn more about their mission at this link.

    For a list of their most-needed items, follow this link or contact Tina Russek at (213) 629-1227 ext. 437 with questions about your donation.

    Los Angeles Mission – Donation Drop Off
    316 East Winston Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90013

    Donation Center Hours:
    Monday-Friday 7am-7pm Saturday 7am-5pm

  • In Chicago: Howard Brown Health Centers - Brown Elephant Donations

    Brown Elephant Resale Shops support the mission of Howard Brown Health by raising money for the agency through resale of donated items. All items must be clean and free from tears, stains and damage and freshly cleaned/laundered prior to donation – and without hangers. Follow this link for a complete list of items they accept.

    If you have a question as to whether we’re able to accept an item for donation, please call the donations line ahead of your visit 773.549.5943, Ext. 1, or email

    The Donations Office is open 7 days a week, from 9:00am to 5:30pm and smaller items may be dropped off at any of their Brown Elephant locations during regular business hours. Find information about all three Brown Elephant locations at this link.

While these tips are a great start for making our footprint a little smaller in 2019, we know that our community is our greatest resource. Do you have other great conservation-friendly ideas that you’d like to see implemented in the broader Production Industry Community? Do you have a great charity local to your market that you can recommend for donations? Let us know in the comments below, or shoot us an email at to pitch your idea for a feature about production sustainability practices.