For those of you who have had the pleasure of experiencing a trip to the majestic Film Biz Recycling (FBR) prop shop/reuse center in Gowanus, Brooklyn, you know what a treasure trove it is…I’m sorry, was. In just 7 years, this incredible non-profit institution won an EPA award, diverted over 600 tons of waste from landfills, and redistributed more than 60% of donated items to over 15 charity and nonprofit partners. FBR has been the hub for the sustainable filmmaking movement in NYC and its founder, Eva Radke, is a pioneer of the green filmmaking movement.
Earth Angel would not exist if it weren’t for Film Biz Recycling. I wandered into an FBR workshop on “The Rise of the Environmental Steward On Set” in May of 2011. Little did I know that it would start me on a path that culminated in the founding of Earth Angel, a company that makes some of largest film and television sets in New York more sustainable and has diverted over 2,000 tons of material from landfills. FBR closing its doors isn’t just another thrift store going out of business. It means that tons of unwanted items will be going to landfills rather than to local charities, and represents a huge step backward in the green set movement.
So what led to the fall of Film Biz Recycling? Well as much as I would like to chalk it up to sheer apathy, the reality is that being in the sustainability business in the entertainment industry is simply not yet a sustainable business model. FBR is not the only one taking a hit. All of us who have dedicated ourselves to this small, yet integral niche feel the lack of support from industry leaders. And therein lies the hypocrisy of the entertainment industry – one which prides itself on its progressive content but trails in terms of progressive practices .
Yet trailblazers like Eva Radke and the plethora of eco ambassadors she inspired are all actively mobilizing to change the economic discourse of filmmaking. The fact is that all of us, from bankers to farmers to filmmakers, play a crucial part in creating a sustainable economy. No single person has the solution to our world’s most urgent problems. Instead, a community is necessary to cultivate unprecedented cross-sector solutions. There is no change without community, and Film Biz was the heart of the NYC sustainable filmmaking community.
Regardless of how isolating my dedication to Earth Angel and to this movement becomes, there are times when you realize some of the most difficult paths are worth taking. We can hide behind cinematic immunity all we want, but we are in no way immune to the changes our world, our economy and our environment have in store for us. Farewell for now, Film Biz. Your doors may be closed, but your legacy is far from lost.
For those of you interested in taking action to support the sustainable filmmaking movement in New York City, please consider signing our Green Set Peition.