The ‘Culture for Climate’ guide aims at supporting cultural practitioners in implementing pro-environmental changes in the cultural sector.
The advice in our guide is written from the perspective of a cultural institution, i.e. the most structurally extensive form of organisation. In an attempt to fully reflect the complexity of cultural activities, it concerns both ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ areas, those related to creation and relationship-building as well as those connected with administration and budgets. We hope that by adopting a multi-layer perspective and including various fields of activity, the advice included in the guidebook will be of interest not only to employees of institutions, but to those associated with informal cultural organisations or independent creators.
Our approach to matters of ecology of culture is holistic. This guidebook is not only about the classically understood ‘pro-environmental’ practices (e.g. waste sorting, energy saving, recycling). For us, these practices form just one element of a wider model of ecology of culture whereby we regard institutions as organisms consisting of interconnected and interrelated areas, which also constitute a part of a wider ecosystem. The areas of culture ecology discussed in this guidebook concern technological aspects (buildings and infrastructure, ICT, conservation), the impact of our behaviour on the environment (daily habits, environmental impact), introducing environmentally-friendly methods for conducting cultural activities (materials, event production, sustainable promotion), responsibility for staff wellbeing (employees), cohesive cooperation with external entities (finances, eco-ethics of cooperation), responsibility for the surrounding ecosystem (good neighbourliness, local natural environment), as well as advocating for climate and attitude forming (programme, communication, institutional policy), the potential for mutual organisation and cooperation (green teams, networking) and strengthening internal self-reflection and systematic evaluation (environmental audit).
This guidebook presents the state of this knowledge at the beginning of 2021. We will update relevant fragments as new data and information appears. Although as authors we tried to reach out for diverse examples, since we live in Warsaw (and so naturally Warsaw experience is closest to us), examples from Warsaw may appear to be overrepresented. For this reason, we hope to hear about various other initiatives which will allow regular updates to this common repository of knowledge.
There are so many essential tasks at the intersection of ecology and culture that it may seem overly difficult and complex. The myth that ecology has to be expensive is also still very much alive. However, a lot of the solutions are simple, based to a large extent on changing one’s habits. It is not without reason that ‘the first step’ in our guide, which concerns examples of changes ‘available at one’s fingertips’, contains the most recommendations. The greening of culture does not mean introducing all the changes perfectly and at once. It is worth starting with potential changes which we have direct influence on and then successively implementing others.
Our collective action may be a chance for instigating real systemic change to the way the cultural sector operates. It may become a common response to the challenges of climate and ecological crises. With Culture for Climate we can achieve more together.
How to use this guide? Choose a way convenient for you:
If you wish to check what exactly you can do in a given area of culture, begin with the field you have the biggest influence on.
If you wish to carry out a systematic (and systemic) change encompassing the whole organisation, start with the simplest steps and proceed to more complicated activities.
Check what changes your organisation should start implementing. This stage requires your involvement in the institution's self-diagnosis but does not require the help of external experts or financial expenditure. All the steps from this stage can be carried out using your own resources. They are not time-consuming and mostly consist of increasing internal awareness, changing habits and implementing simple solutions.
This stage includes implementing changes which require time. It is connected with reformulating some solutions functioning in your organisation, such as decisions and changes concerning procedures, small infrastructure, materials and equipment, as well as operation strategy related to particular areas. This may necessitate consulting with experts and, in some cases, financial investment. It requires inter-departmental cooperation and a wider engagement of employees, so that the implemented changes may support one another and be cohesive throughout the organisation.
The third stage concerns systemic measures – implementing previously prepared processes and solutions. This also includes the initiatives which require big infrastructural changes and/or large financial expenditure, and/or involvement of other entities. Institutions and organisations should ensure that an external audit of the changes implemented be carried out at the end of the process. Its conclusions would show the direction for eco-strategy for the years to follow.