Getting Started

Every organisation is different

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to environmental commitment and action. Environmental policies and action plans are useful for defining ambition, identifying what is important and the actions that will help to realise this ambition.

Understanding what your organisation stands for, and who you stand with, can help you figure out where you would like to see change and what to focus on, e.g. reducing operational impacts, programming or content which explores environmental themes, supporting environmental skills development or projects, engaging with audiences and communities on climate action.

Define your commitments based on:

Who you are

Where you are

What you do

Who you do it with

What you value

What you want to see change

Environmental Policy

A statement of values, principles and commitment to positive environmental change – the bigger picture, framing what you want to achieve.

What should it do?

Outline what environmental action and good practice means given the size, scale and nature of your activities and impacts.

Make clear who is accountable and who is responsible.

Frame your environmental action.

If you are a freelancer or very small organisation, a policy may also look more like a personal manifesto or statement of intent that is shared with all partners you work with.

Environmental Action Plan

Sets out how you will put your values, principles and commitment to positive environmental change into practice – the detail of how you are going to achieve your ambitions.

What should it cover?

Specific actions and responsibilities, timelines and where relevant, budget or resource allocation, on reducing impacts, developing environmental practice and embedding environmental change.

Where possible, it should include SMARTIE – Strategic, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic, Timebound, Inclusive and Equitable - objectives and targets.

Change doesn’t happen without people.

When you are getting started think about:

How to bring people together

Whose support and buy-in you need in particular

Who needs to be actively involved, how will they be involved, how much time will it take and do they have any particular support or training needs

How are you going to do broader communication and engagement – internally, with key partners, collaborators etc.

Priorities and Actions

When developing your priorities and actions, think about the different ways in which you can make a difference, given who you are, what you do and who you do it with.

Practical Action

What can you do on a practical operational level:

  • using less energy and replacing fossil fuels with low or zero carbon energy
  • avoiding or reducing travel and using more low or zero carbon transport
  • moving from a “take, make, dispose” model to one which avoids waste and pollution
  • sourcing goods and services which are better for people and planet
  • offering more plant-based food
  • protecting and enhancing nature and biodiversity and adopting nature-based solutions
  • adapting and building resilience to the impacts of climate and nature crisis

Planet Placement

What can you do to inform and inspire change and put the planet at the heart of what you do:

  • raising environmental awareness and promoting behaviour change with your communities or audiences
  • addressing environmental themes through programming, screenings, events, collections
  • making environmental content part of skills development, educational and training activities
  • encouraging environmental action through sector funding and support

Driving Wider Change

What can you do to push for and support wider change:

  • making your money matter through pension fund divestment, ethical sponsorship or banking
  • advocating for better environmental solutions
  • collaborating with your peers on environmental action
  • contributing to place-based environmental priorities and initiatives

Control and Influence

Consider your spheres of control and influence to help identify where to start and what to focus on. Ask yourself: beyond reducing negative impacts – what is the positive contribution you want to make to people and planet?

Can't Control

Within your control e.g.

How much energy do you use? How much waste do you generate? How and when do you travel? What do you programme? Who or what do you fund?

Within your influence e.g.

Who do you work with? Who are your suppliers? How do your audiences travel?

Within your concern e.g.

What public transport options are available? How can you expand your reach to include others who may not have access or opportunity to engage on climate action? Who is in your neighbourhood and how you can support local environmental and social justice initiatives?

Identifying and understanding your impacts can be complex, especially if you have a wide range of activities. You can start by focusing on one specific activity or area, such as an upcoming event, a specific audience development project, a new website development, a key project or programme. Then you can progressively work to build a full picture of your environmental impacts as an organisation and define what you will commit to changing.

When developing your commitments and/or policy, reflect on how your work aligns with local, national and global commitments. Are there issues of particular concern to your audiences or community, e.g. air pollution, lack of green spaces or local transport services? Can you contribute to addressing these concerns, if so how? Are you aligned with/connected to organisations or social movements working towards similar objectives in your community, local authority or region?

Environmental commitment and action is an ongoing, iterative process and progress should be reviewed and revised as needed.

Commit to making tangible, measurable changes.
Remember progress isn’t linear.
Stretch ambition over time as action leads to changes.
You know your organisation best – as you go through the process of prioritising what matters to you and taking action, you will gain and build understanding of your impacts.

Resources for Getting Started

BFI Sustainable Screen - Creative Climate Tools Demonstration
Webinar & Video
A user demostration of the Creative Climate Tools, introducing how they work and what they can do. The demonstration was part of a webinar Julie's Bicycle run for BFI National Lottery Awardees required to report their carbon footprint using Julie’s Bicycle Creative Climate Tools to meet the contractual obligations of their award.
BFI Sustainable Screen – Developing Environmental Priorities and Plans
Webinar & Video
Julie’s Bicycle Developing Environmental Priorities and Plans webinar looks at how to develop commitment to meaningful, positive environmental change and put a plan in place to make it happen.
BFI Sustainable Screen – Getting to Grips with Environmental Performance and Progress
Webinar & Video
Julie’s Bicycle Getting to Grips with Environmental Priorities and Plans webinar looks at where to start in developing understanding of environmental impacts, practice and performance, how to get the information needed and how to use this information to inform action and track progress.
Creative Climate Tools logo
Julie's Bicycle Creative Climate Tools
The tools help organisations to record and report onthe impacts of venues, offices, tours, projects, events and festivals and calculate the resulting carbon footprint. The tools include user guides and a demonstration video.
View of buildings with green gardens on rooftops
Julie's Bicycle - Environmental Policy & Action Plan Guide
This guide, developed by Julie’s Bicycle under Arts Council England’s Environmental Programme, goes through the process of developing an environmental policy and action plan with how-to guides, tips, templates, examples and useful resources.
Person outdoors painting, green foliage in the background, a sunny day
Watershed Creative Climate Action Toolkit
This toolkit is designed specifically to support smaller businesses, organisations, collectives and freelancers to act on climate and comprises a video, worksheet and checklist.
Cardiff Animation Festival logo
Cardiff Animation Festival Planet Positive
Supported by Clwstwr and Ffilm Cymru Wales’ Green Cymru Challenge Fund, Cardiff Animation Festival has developed a set of recommendations on a Net Zero animation sector and top tips on what the animation sector can do, from footprint calculations to taking action. They have also created a Planet Positive Animation Network open for anyone in the animation community to join.
A lone plant outdoors growing
Independent Cinema Office Green Cinema Toolkit
Created in partnership with Julie’s Bicycle, Curzon Cinemas, Depot, HOME and Tyneside Cinema this guide provides top tips and case studies on how cinemas can take environmental action and develop environmental practice.
Birds eye view of potted plants
Independent Cinema Office Environmental Sustainability Online Course
Training & Learning
Created in partnership with Julie’s Bicycle, this online course, for anyone working in film exhibition, from small independents to larger cinemas and multi-arts venues, looks at the importance of addressing the challenges presented by the climate emergency, and provides case studies as well as tools and tips on developing environmental policies and action plans.


Person taking a video of a person on roof
Living Room Cinema strategy development with Mustard Studio
Depot Lewes Cinema for a Sustainable Future Presentation
Mustard Studio
Watershed Bristol Video: Carbon footprint and climate priorities
Black and silver camera on brown wooden table
Yorkshire Film Archive Sustainability Journey
The Barn’s Environmental Policy
UK Cinema Association logo
UK Cinema Association – Greening the Big Screen Experience 2023
Montrose Land x Sea Film Fest logo
Montrose Land x Sea Festival Sustainability Commitment
Ffilm Cymru Wales Environmental Policy logo
Ffilm Cymru Environmental Policy
Green Phoenix logo
Exeter Phoenix - Green Phoenix
Creative Scotland logo
Creative Scotland Climate Emergency and Sustainability Plan
Watershed logo
Watershed Bristol Environmental Policy
Watershed logo
Watershed Bristol Climate Action Plan
Broadway logo
Broadway Nottingham Environmental Policy & Action Plan
Home logo
HOME Manchester Sustainability Approach
Depot logo
Depot Lewes Sustainability Approach

Where would you like to go next?

The climate, nature and justice crisis and the role of creativity, culture and screen.
Good Practice
What to focus on across key types of screen sector activity ‘beyond production’: exhibitors; screen archives; education, skills and training providers, and; sector support and promotion bodies.
Taking Action
The kind of action organisations can take in different areas from energy and travel to food and digital.