I put together these green tips and tricks for a special "green" issue of MAGIC MAGAZINE (November 2011). I wrote them with amateur and professional magicians in mind, but they can really apply to anyone that does any type of show or likes to "make" stuff. Enjoy.
Making Your Magic SHOW Greener (some tricks and tips to lesson your impact on the planet)
1. Use Rechargeable Batteries – (AA or 9V) Here’s a big one for touring entertainers. You’re gonna use 100-500 disposable batteries (or single use batteries) for each (1) rechargeable battery that you use. That’s right! If you choose NOT to use a rechargeable battery (for your Sidekick or Wireless Microphone, or Rising Card or whatever), you’ll end up buying between 100 and 500 disposable batteries. Even if you don’t “give a whit” about the environment or green or eco-hippyness, there can be a huge COST SAVINGS (that's cold hard stinking cash) for you to purchase rechargeable batteries and a battery charger. Rechargeables make ecologic AND economic sense. Being green can get you more… green. ☺
2. Reuse Cardboard Cereal Boxes – I started using cereal boxes to organize my onstage magic show many, many years ago. I vaguely recall glancing behind Tom Mullica’s Tom-Foolery bar in Atlanta and seeing lots and lots of cardboard boxes taped together. This could be a faulty memory. It could have been some other great magician, but my mind gives him credit for this idea. Whomever it was, it’s a brilliant idea. Cardboard boxes are cheap, light, easy to cut, easy to rearrange, easily taped/hot glued together, to organize your onstage show props. Change your show? No problem, change the cardboard boxes. It doesn’t matter that the boxes look cheesy inside your show case, the audience won’t ever see it. The most important aspect of this cardboard organization system is it that you’ll be able to find a specific prop instantly during your show. This will make you look and feel much more professional. Reusing all those cardboard boxes is actually a greener choice than even recycling them. Less energy is needed to reuse a resource than to recycle it.
3. Reuse Show Confetti – Speaking of reuse, I love to use confetti (I used lime green of course) in my green magic stage show. I’ve found that if you collect it after your show, you can actually reuse it many times. I have a bag (mine is a mesh bag that practice golf balls are sold in). After each show I sweep my confetti into this mesh bag. I end up sweeping dust and dirt from the stage too, but I give the mesh bag several shakes over the trash can and the dirt and trash fall out and the reusable confetti remains. This allows me to reuse the same confetti over and over. An added benefit of reusing confetti is that the venue will love you for cleaning up your own mess. Reusing confetti is not only good for the environment, but it’s good for your pocketbook as well, you don’t have to buy as much.
4. Buy Eco-Edition Playing Cards – This deck of cards is specifically made to be environmentally friendly. Crafted by U.S. Playing Card Company from sustainably harvested forest paper, starch-based laminating glue, and vegetable-based printing inks. The deck has no gaffs or gimmicks, but its back design and red faces have been replaced with a olive/forest green.
5. Make sure that wood for your illusion is FSC. Forest Stewardship Council certifies that the wood you use has been harvested from a forest that is “well managed” for sustainability. Don’t worry, Home Depot works very hard to carry wood that has FSC certification. So check for the label and know that you’re doing your part!
6. Use post consumer waste recycled paper in your promo. Printing your press kit and promo on recycled paper is good, but printing on post consumer (paper that’s been used and then recycled into new paper) is great! Most clients will appreciate the fact that you bothered to use recycled stock. It WILL cost a little more (maybe 10% more), but it’s worth it simply for bragging rights. The quality of recycled paper today is very good compared to even 10 years ago. I’ve been buying post consumer recycled paper for 25 years, believe me, it’s gotten better. Be sure to include the recycle symbol on your promo to let people know you’re doing your part to be green.
7. Don’t print any promo. One of the great things about the digital age is that it’s given us the ability to book shows without any printed material at all. The VAST MAJORITY of my shows these days (Performing Arts Centers, Fairs, & Schools) are booked without ever having to print anything. I can get almost everything the client needs on my web site (stevetrash.com) and on my YouTube site (stevetrashnetwork). Less printing means less resources used, and that’s a much greener choice.
8. Biodegradable Glue – Max 1 Glue is the most amazing glue you’ll ever use. It’s also biodegradable… which makes it amazingly green. Not something you can usually say about most modern chemical bonding agents. Max 1 is capable of bonding porous and non porous surfaces together (glass to wood or metal to glass). Just as important, it really is completely biodegradable. Originally used by military doctors to quickly seal wounds, it will instantly bond flesh. So do not get it on your fingers and touch them together, or you’ll instantly have a new definition for the Linking Finger Ring trick. ☺
9. Improve you MPG. We’ve got to get to gigs. Most of us have neither the luxury nor desire to ride our off road trail bike to our shows. Can you imagine yourself with a sub trunk balanced precariously on your shoulders as you tool down the highway on your bike? Me neither. So most of us end up driving to our gigs. One way to green your show is to improve your mpg (miles per gallon). The less fuel we use the less fuel ultimately must be searched for, drilled for, transported, refined, transported, stored, and then sold to us. Fuel and energy are good things but the less non renewable fuel (gasoline refined from oil is non renewable) we can use in our day to day lives, the easier it is on the planet. I recently switched from a big van to a smaller van. I downsized from a 350 Ford Van to a Ford Transit Connect. This did take a good bit of reorganizing and repacking of my show, but it’s been wonderful to go from getting only 14 mpg to 25 mpg. With the larger van, I had been focused on getting the show into the venue quickly and out of the venue quickly. This new show (with the new smaller van and much less storage space) must be packed a lot smaller, so I’ve had to break the show down for transport into a MUCH smaller space. I can’t load in and load out as quickly, but I’m getting MUCH better mileage and that makes me and the planet happy. There’s also a financial benefit, I get a lot better mileage which means that I get to keep more of the money I make. I’m not adding to the burden on the non-renewable energy supply and I’m keeping mo’ money.