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WASTE NO MORE: sustainability in fashion and film with Dresd
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WASTE NO MORE: sustainability in fashion and film with Dresd

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Behind every film production is a huge amount of wasted materials. The British Film Organisation stated that one hour of televised UK production produces 13 tons of carbon dioxide. So much much waste - and for just one hour? The creative industries aren't doing much better either. Sets are built for purpose and then torn down and sent to landfills. Meet Dresd, a company taking a whole new approach to sustainable set design, Dresd breathes new life into old sets from films and fashion events.

We reached out to the co-founder of Dresd Lynn Mcfarlane who gave us an excellent insight into the way Dresd works, its most exciting endeavours and what's in store for the future.

Where did the inspiration behind Dresd come from? Did you have first-hand experience of the wastefulness of the film and fashion industry?

Dresd has been working in the event industry creating sustainable sets from materials recovered from commercial companies such as John Lewis and Ford motor company. Through conversations with various actors in the film industry it was identified that there was waste streams all going to landfill. We were invited to join Colin Firth on his film Gambit to do a study internally of the types of products and materials that was Being skipped, we were stunned! And this was just one production out of 100s all happening in the UK at anyone time.

There had to be a solution to this and so Dresd pushed forward to instigate changes.

How wasteful is the industry and is this across all film sets? 

If we go back 8 years, then the industry was 95% wasteful, with the only materials in recovery being the donated items to charity or staff purchases; occasionally productions would sell on their sets or props to an alternative production, but this was rare and difficult to work into timescales.

To date, with the Bafta Albert consortium and the work of the BFI and their internal studies... productions are beginning to recognise that there are alternative solutions.

The scale of productions in the UK filming is growing and we have only just touched the top of the iceberg! With possibly 1% being recycled for reuse, something has to be done by government to enforce changes and this needs to run down through all the service users, including studios.

There needs to be recycling provision (hubs) In key areas of the UK to create a full cycle of reuse and then access to this provision can be simple and cost effective for all the creative industries, including fashion.

How does Dresd work to combat this issue?

We have developed the first hub in South Wales and we have proven that this system works and will work! We work with high profile clients down to networking with colleges and universities to help with budgets and sustainable practice.

If we were to switch to sustainable film sets and fashion shows, how much of a difference would it make to our carbon footprint?

If hubs were created and so access was easier the impact would be humongous! Materials from all areas of the creative industries could come in and go out; this would lower the purchase of new materials, lower the impact on landfill or even were to energy, which should only be a bi-product.

It would reduce costs, it would save more than 100,000s tons of materials going to landfill and because materials would circulate there would not be a clog in the system.

What type of materials do you use and how do you source them?

We only use recovered materials in all our builds; even if it’s something we didn’t have in stock, we would purchase second hand.

Most of our material recovery these days is through Film and TV, however, we receive materials from commercial outlets and the event industry itself.

We use all materials, from raw timbers and end of line paints to fabrics, props, furniture etc... it’s endless and as we’re a team of artist we can create any installations required.

Which big names have you collaborated with? Are there any names or brands you’d love to work with in the future?

We work with production companies such as Sony to Universal as well as fashion designers like Stella McCartney, Vogue and EcoAge, no job is too big or small!

We are keen to work with high end fashion event organisers as they are key to making changes with their clients.

What has been your most memorable experience at Dresd and why?

Working for The Queen at Buckingham Palace.... it was a privilege and possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity to showcase our work.

Dresd sustainably built the Queens 50th Anniversary celebrations in her work within the Commonwealth in 2018.

Why should film sets and fashion sets be re-purposed instead of recycled?

Recycling still uses energy and is not the solution to a greener planet; it should only be the bi-product of what cannot be reused and there should be little of that!

Evidence has also gown that often that that we think has been recycled has just been shipped to 3rd world countries and overloaded their pollution.

Have you encountered any challenges whilst working on Dresd that you didn’t expect?

Yes, two things...

  1. Mindsets; those that have been in the industry a long time and always processed in a certain way find it difficult at times or even reluctant to change.
  2. The myth that it takes longer and costs more to be sustainable; not true! It is actually more cost effective and if the circular economy model kicks in fully it will save in all budgets throughout the system of production.

Dresd is involved in the film, TV and fashion industry, are there plans to branch into different industries in the future?

Yes, we intend the model to run through the creative industries, this includes theatre and interior design.

Intrigued? If you want to know more about Dresd and what they're working on at the moment, head over the their website to check out their latest projects.

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