Monday, February 25, 2013


"You see cars driving in New York all hours of the night. It's like Musical Chairs except everybody sat down around 1964. The problem is car manufacturers are building hundreds of thousands of new cars every year, they're not making any new spaces. That's what they should be working on. Wouldn't that be great? You go to the Auto Show, they got that big revolving turntable, and there's nothing on it. New from Chrysler, a space."
                                                                    - JERRY SEINFELD

We are all connected.

If we didn't know it before, social networking and 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon' have made it abundantly clear.

Being connected yields amazing and wonderful things. Art, a rise in social consciousness and economic opportunities we never thought of.

But it also comes with responsibility. If we are all 'in this together', then our ability to thrive depends very much on understanding and improving the negative impacts we have on others.

Something the film and content industries don't talk much about is sustainability. There have been film productions in recent years certified as being 'best practice in their environmental footprint', but generally the effort of being green is given up for economic rationality.

This is a mistake.

Being sustainable is a new idea in it's large scale form. The concept had been around for years, but only recently has it entered the global vernacular.

New ideas always seem too hard or too expensive. They give way to arguments of 'but we have always done it this way', or 'but that will eat into our profit margin'.

Being sustainable, however, is more than just a green ideal. In a connected world, showing that you are an industry that cares about the world you are operating in, and indeed the audience you are trying to connect with, is actually good for business too.

Being certified green has become a standard that companies use to differentiate their brand from the others. This only happens because people respond, with their hard-earned money, to these companies being positive contributors to the world we live in.

It is with great hope then that I read recently about a sustainability idea for televisions and computers, the portals of the content our industry produces.

The idea? Television and computer recycling.

“Hazardous materials including lead, mercury and zinc will be prevented from entering the environment through landfill, and valuable non-renewable resources - including gold and other precious metals - will be saved for re-use.”

This is a big deal.

Think of the environmental footprint reduction of the content industries from this wonderful new development. Precious minerals re-used instead of becoming landfill. Environmentally hazardous materials disposed of responsibly.

For you money counters out there, however, there are also obvious tangible economics to this. A new market comes from the second-hand non-renewable minerals (gold from your televisions, for example). These minerals can be stripped out and sold. This is the obvious benefit.

The less tangible, but just as relevant, economic benefit relates to the Jerry Seinfeld quote above. Just like buying a new car, part of the economic decision people make, on whether to upgrade their television or computer, is based in-part on the guilt of being wasteful.

Budget is certainly one part of the decision. Wastefulness, or even the perception of it, is a part of the decision making process as well.

Even if the film and content industries, including the technology providers, haven't seriously cared about the environment all this time, therefore, the audiences have.

With a new paradigm, where people know that they can purchase a new television or computer without the guilt of the old one being 'wasted', audiences will be more likely to purchase new equipment. As a result, and despite any associated costs with being 'green', this sustainable model is better for the technology providers, not worse.

In the long run, sustainability-led increases in television and computer upgrading are better for the film and content makers too. Newer versions of technology have newer features, usually ones that make it easier to deliver the content that people want; improving the audience experience. Netflix App anyone?

So, in the new world of environmentally sustainable economics, audiences win.

Technology makers win.

Film and content makers win.

The environment wins.

Who wants to keep doing this the old way?

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