Green is Universal

Girls Trip

Girls Trip, July 21, 2017

Girls Trip (2017)

© Universal Pictures

Producer Will Packer (Ride Along and Think Like a Man franchises, Almost Christmas) presents Girls Trip, a new comedy from director/producer Malcolm D. Lee (The Best Man franchise, Barbershop: The Next Cut).

When four lifelong friends—Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah—travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival, sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, and there’s enough dancing, drinking, brawling and romancing to make the Big Easy blush.

Filmed in New Orleans, Girls Trip made a dedicated effort to reduce their carbon footprint where possible.  The film’s production offices were located at Second Line Stages, a certified LEED GOLD building that included motion detector lighting, low flow water fixtures, composting in the kitchens, and recycling throughout the offices and stages.

The office enforced a strict “Print Only by Request” policy which resulted in a 60% drop in paper usage compared to a production of a similar size.  Production passed on remaining paper and office supplies to another New Orleans film.  On set, crew practiced energy efficiency by using hybrid vehicles, energy efficientEcoLuxe trailers, and LED set lighting.

Girls Trip gave back to the community both during and after filming.  Production donated approximately 600 lbs of excess catering food (equaling 500 meals) to the New Orleans Mission, and also donated lumber to The Green Project, a local non-profit reuse center.  These practices and more led to Girls Trip earning a 2016 EMA Green Seal, recognizing progress in sustainable production practices.

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The Hidden Impact of Cars on Our Planet

It’s no secret that an overwhelming majority of cars built today depend highly on fossil fuels—which is not good for our planet.  According to Sciencing.com, cars, trucks and other forms of transportation is the single largest contributor to air pollution in the United States. Cars release pollutants that cause a wide range of issues for the environment and human health in general.

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Soil & Water

Even after a car has exhausted its time on the road, it still has the ability to do damage to the environment when they’re in junk yards. Auto parts, such as batteries or engines with oil or gasoline, can often times be disassembled in junk yards and the process alone can lead to leakage into soil and any bodies of water nearby. Cars can also contribute to pollution through sulfur dioxide—sulfur dioxide is created when fuel containing sulfur is burned and when gasoline is extracted from oil.  When sulfur dioxide mixes with rain water it creates acid rain which damages crops, vegetation, and forests.

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Our Health

Diesel fuel, normally used to power buses and trucks, emits airborne particles such as metal and soot. These airborne particles can cause skin irritations and allergies. The smallest particles can nestle into our lungs and can cause respiratory issues as well. Surprisingly, the noise from cars is also harmful to our health. The effects of noise on hearing may vary among people, but any sound that is too loud can cause damage to hearing. According to CultureChange.org, “researchers have found vehicle noise pollution to be a major cause of stress.” Vehicle noise pollution can also be traced to stress related illnesses—one being high blood pressure. When people are exposed intrusive sounds, it puts them in a state of agitation with an increased level in blood pressure.

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Climate Change

Car pollution is one of the major causes of climate change. All of the gases that cars emit, including greenhouse gases, contribute a great deal to climate change as well. As stated by Sciencing.com, greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere, which causes temperatures to rise worldwide. Warmer temperatures around the world affect farming, wildlife, sea levels and natural landscapes.

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How you can help

There are many ways to help lower the amount of car pollutants in the environment. Whenever the time comes to purchase a new car, be sure to check the fuel economy and environment label. This label tells you about the ratings and pollution level the vehicle will produce. A high rating means lower pollution levels. Additionally, keeping your car well maintained by getting regular checkups at your local mechanic is also a great way to make sure your vehicle is not contributing too many air pollutants to the environment.  If your car is used sparingly, you could also re-evaluate if you really need your own car. There are alternate ways of travel such as taking public transit, riding a bike, walking, or using a car-sharing app or service.

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Six Green Ways to Start Your Day

Mornings can be a hectic part of the day for most people. Often time’s people feel as if they don’t have enough time to prepare and get out of the house with everything they need to get their day started off on the right foot. With that in mind, it can be challenging to think about helping the environment in the mere minutes leading up to rushing out the door.

Fortunately there are plenty of simple ways to make your morning routine more sustainable. Here are six green ways to jumpstart your day:

1.Utilize eco-friendly beauty products

Beauty products are known for having layers of plastic packaging around the boxes that hold the cosmetic. Both the plastic wrapping and the cosmetic containers are usually made of a material that cannot be recycled—and these plastic wrappers make up a large portion of waste that ends up in landfills.

Many beauty companies are trying to make both their products and packaging eco-friendly. In some instances, cosmetic companies are making their packages more ecofriendly by using less material in the packing process. According to Allure.com, “sustainable packaging goes through a process that can make the packaging more costly; however the plants and labs that manufacture these goods use environmentally friendly water and electricity systems, as well as recycle all goods.” Shopping for sustainable beauty products that utilize fewer resources to package their products is a green way to start your day.

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2. Use an alternative to disposable razors

Straight razors are a great green alternative to disposable razors. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Americans alone throw away an estimated 2 billion disposable razors each year—that’s approximately one billion pounds of waste.” By utilizing straight razors, you would be saving the environment from plastic razor waste that cannot be recycled.

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3. Bring your own personal coffee mug or thermos to work

According to CarryYourCup.org Americans throw away a staggering 25 billion Styrofoam coffee cups every year. If you replaced purchasing a disposable cup of coffee each day with BYO mug, you can save 23 pounds of waste in one year.

Even if you like getting coffee at a coffee shop you can bring your own mug and get it filled up with freshly brewed coffee. Some coffee shops even offer discounts for bringing your own mug!

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4. Exercising outside instead of in a gym

Instead of burning energy on exercise machines at a gym take advantage of local hiking trails. Going for a jog or walk at a park in your area is always an eco-friendly option. One of the best benefits of the exercising outside is getting fresh air to decrease stress. According to the Huffington Post, “research shows that the scent of pine trees decreases stress and increases relaxation. Even walking through a park or your own backyard can help you feel calmer and happier when you catch a whiff of freshly cut grass.”

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5. Pack lunch using reusable containers

Instead of using plastic sandwich bags or brown paper bags, opt in for a more sustainable option and try a reusable lunch containers and carrying bags. According to Recycle Works, “disposal lunches can generate between 4-8 ounces of garbage every day, totaling up to nearly 100 pounds of waste per year.” Simple household items such as mason jars, and leftover durable shopping bags, and old plastic food containers are great alternatives to transporting your lunch to the office. According to Huffington Post, bringing lunch from home is also great for extra savings—you can save on average $1,500 per year by choosing homemade lunches over restaurant lunches.

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6. Walking or biking to work

Riding your bike and walking to work are not just healthy for your body–they’re better for the environment too. According to Movoto.com, riding your bike to work rather than driving can cut down on your household emissions by at least 6%. Cars emit air pollution every mile, whereas bikes produce none.

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There are many simple ways you can contribute to making the world a little bit greener every morning when you are getting your day started. Take the first step today and share your new green habits with your friends to create an ecofriendly movement!

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The Beguiled

The Beguiled, June 23, 2017

The Beguiled

© Focus Features

The Focus Features film The Beguiled is an atmospheric thriller from acclaimed writer/director Sofia Coppola, winner of the Best Director award at the 2017 Cannes International Film Festival. The story unfolds during the Civil War, at a Southern girls’ boarding school. Its sheltered young women take in an injured enemy soldier. As they provide refuge and tend to his wounds, the house is taken over with sexual tension and dangerous rivalries, and taboos are broken in an unexpected turn of events.

Filming on locations in Louisiana, The Beguiled production team implemented a number of sustainable practices. In the production office, water dispensers were used to avoid plastic water bottle usage.  A conscious effort was made to turn off all lights and electronics at night.  A strict “print only by request” policy, resulting in 52% less paper use than average for a production of their size, was enforced. When production wrapped, remaining paper was donated to local elementary schools.

All departments at work on The Beguiled made specific efforts to reduce their environmental impact. The sound department primarily used rechargeable batteries; the electrical department used LED set lighting; and on-set recyclables were collected and dropped off at a local recycler.

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The Book of Henry

The Book of Henry, June 16, 2017

The Book Of Henry

© Focus Features

The Book of Henry is a Focus Features drama directed by Colin Trevorrow, who last helmed 2015’s “Jurassic World.”  Written by Gregg Hurwitz and starring Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher, Jacob Tremblay, Sarah Silverman, Lee Pace, Maddie Ziegler, and Dean Norris, The Book of Henry centers on a single mother whose genius son’s plan to help a classmate with a dangerous secret takes shape in thrilling ways.

Filming in New York State, The Book of Henry production team made substantial efforts to reduce the movie shoot’s environmental impact.  To help reduce fuel use, they rented hybrid vehicles for crew.  To lower energy use, the lighting department used LED set lighting.  Refilling stations were provided on-set and all crew were encouraged to use reusable water bottles, which resulted in individual water bottle use that was 90% less than comparably sized productions.

When building their sets, The Book of Henry construction team utilized sustainable building materials such as FSC Certified Plywood and Pulp Art, a wall skin made from 100% recycled paper.  Several departments made the effort to purchase secondhand pieces from Build it Green, Habitat for Humanity, and local thrift stores.

The Book of Henry was very active in donating to the local community.  The production donated a set of stairs that had been built to the Rochambeau School, a local high school in White Plains, NY, and construction flats were donated via Art Cube.  In addition, the set decoration team gave away several pieces of furniture and home goods to Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, and Furnishare.  The production donated excess food throughRock and Wrap it Up!, with over 162 meals given to the hungry.  These practices and more earned The Book of Henry an EMA Green Seal.

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Serving Seasonal Produce This Summer

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Strawberry shortcake at summer festivals and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving – these culinary traditions are no accident. While these dishes are typically associated with celebrations, they are also tied to the seasons. Strawberries thrive in June and July, and pumpkins are harvested in the fall. Eating food that is seasonal and local is a tradition that is both good for human health and the environment.

Fruits and vegetables thrive when planted and harvested during certain times of the year. Tomato plants, for example, are typically best when harvested during the summer, because they need a lot of sun for their fruit to ripen. Timing is important for plants to grow successfully. Seeds are accustomed to everything from the condition of the soil to the amount of rain during a particular season. Oftentimes, produce is picked during its peak harvest time and then treated with chemicals and stored to be sold throughout the year. These products end up poorer tasting and with less nutritional value. Freshly picked fruits and vegetables grown during their natural season are the healthiest and most flavorful. It is well worth the wait.

Eating locally grown produce has many benefits as well. Flavor and nutrients are retained and extensive, pollution-causing transportation – known as “food miles” – is not required. Produce that travels a great distance is often also treated with chemicals for preservation. In contrast, produce grown in your region can be enjoyed naturally hours after being picked from the vine. Enjoying locally grown food can also foster community and create appreciation for local culinary traditions.

This summer, after you purchase your food from a farmers’ market or CSA, prepare it using a healthy recipe. The Eating to 100 series from the TODAY show features recipes that boost longevity – many of which are packed full of produce, like this one!

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The Mummy

Universal Pictures and Focus Features are committed to reducing the environmental impact from filmmaking activities. To assist in this effort, NBCUniversal developed a Sustainable Production Program which empowers our film divisions to integrate sustainable best practices across their productions.

At the foundation of the Program are easy to use infographics which illustrate sustainable production best practices. These practices span across all production operations and equip filmmakers and crewmembers with the tools to take action and reduce impact. To view the infographics and learn more about our sustainability program, click here.

Read on for examples of how our film crews have integrated environmental action into their everyday work:

Recent Releases

The Mummy, June 9, 2017

Mummy

©Universal Pictures

Tom Cruise headlines a spectacular, all-new cinematic version of the legend that has fascinated cultures all over the world since the dawn of civilization: The Mummy.

Thought safely entombed in a tomb deep beneath the unforgiving desert, an ancient princess (Sofia Boutella of Kingsman: The Secret Service and Star Trek Beyond) whose destiny was unjustly taken from her is awakened in our current day, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia and terrors that defy human comprehension.

Cruise is joined by a cast including Annabelle Wallis (King Arthur, television’s Peaky Blinders), Jake Johnson (Jurassic World), Courtney B. Vance (TV’s American Crime Story: The People V. O.J. Simpson), Marwan Kenzari (The Promise) and Oscar® winner Russell Crowe (Gladiator).

Filmed in the United Kingdom, the production team on The Mummy was fully dedicated to implementing sustainable practices throughout the production.  They used 100% recycled content paper throughout production, replacing the equivalent of 142 trees. To reduce bottled water, water filters were installed in the production office that provided both still and sparking water.  In an effort to reduce waste, recycling was set up all throughout offices, workshops and stages.  Catering used compostable food service products, which were composted along with food waste from both the office and stage catering.

Departments across The Mummy made a concerted efforts to be energy efficient.  LED set lights were used on the back lot as well as on stages which significantly reduced power consumption.  To help educate and inform the crew, production placed signage around the workspaces, reminding people to turn off lights and electronics every night.  Transportation provided fuel efficient and hybrid rental cars for crew to use throughout the production.  They also provided minibuses to move crew to locations, reducing the amount of single cars driven.  The production donated items such as bikes, a foosball table, household items, and clothing to local charities.  These practices and more earned The Mummy an EMA Green Seal.

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The Power of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

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Community Supported Agriculture partnerships (CSAs) are a fantastic option for all of your produce needs this summer and fall. In a CSA customers pay upfront for the entire season (typically from June-November). They are investing in the farm by essentially purchasing a share of it. This upfront payment enables farmers to finance the early stages of growing – seeds, equipment, labor, etc. Customers can choose how much they want to be included in their deliveries. These are typically weekly or bi-weekly and scaled for the size of the household. There are two main types of CSAs: workplace and community. Produce and other products such as honey, eggs or even meat, are packaged and delivered to a convenient place for customers to pick up, either in the community or right at their place of work.

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CSAs have similarities to farmers’ markets because they both encourage purchasing fresh, local, seasonal produce and connecting with farmers. Customers can shop from many different farmers at a farmers’ market, but a CSA partnership provides produces from one farm directly.

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CSAs are beneficial for a multitude of reasons. They eliminate the ‘middle man,’ and are simultaneously less expensive for purchasers and more profitable for farmers. The products are fresh, because they are grown locally so they do not have to be treated with chemicals in order to travel long distances. Additionally, participating farms typically use traditional, organic growing practices. Finally, CSAs create a connection between farmers and buyers through interactions at pick-up locations. Memberships may also include recipes, visits to the farms, and educational opportunities on cooking and storing produce.

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Comcast NBCUniversal employees in New York City participate in a CSA with Katchkie Farm. Employees can become members and have weekly shares of food delivered right to the office. Katchkie Farm is also a part of the Just Food CSA Network – a ground-breaking organization in NYC. CSAs exist all over the country and are an ever growing and expanding model. Head here to find one near you!

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Farmers’ Markets – Not Just a Trend

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Shopping at farmers’ markets gets labeled as something that is hip and fashionable these days. In reality, it is simply going back to the way people have traditionally purchased their food. Shopping at local farmers’ markets has positive effects on the environment, our physical health, and relationships in the community.

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Farmers’ markets were originally created as a way for people living in dense, urban areas to buy fresh food from the surrounding region without having to leave the city. This model is drastically less harmful to the environment than buying food that has been grown across the world. In these cases food has to be either flown or driven many miles to a grocery store; all while being treated with harmful chemicals to stay “fresh” until it gets to its destination. Buying locally eliminates the pollution caused by this long-distance travel and the damage that these harmful substances have on the environment.

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In terms of personal health, there is no contest that the food you will find at your local farmer’s market is better for you than food at a typical grocery store. Farms represented at farmers’ markets most likely grow more than one item. This biodiversity means that they do not need to use pesticides on their food as it grows because of a process called permaculture, the practice of growing certain foods next to each other to help them develop. For instance, basil plants repel insects that like to eat tomato plants, so they are ideal neighbors. Therefore, the food you see at farmers’ markets is both less chemically treated and delicious.

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Waste has become an increasing problem as food has become cheaper and more readily available in some parts of the world. It is morally, economically and environmentally harmful. Billions of dollars are literally thrown away each year while many people go hungry, and when this organic matter fills landfills it gives off gases that are harmful to the environment. When people grab something off of the shelf at a supermarket they rarely stop to think about how much effort went into its production. At a farmers’ market the people who saw the apple you are buying grow from a seed to a fruit are the ones handing it to you. An appreciation is created for how much time and care went into this item, and as a result, an effort to eat it before it goes rotten. Another benefit to connecting with farmers is they can tell you more about how to enjoy your food and maybe even share a recipe with you that you can cook with your family or friends. Now that the season is beginning for many farmers’ markets, head out this weekend and meet, connect, and enjoy!

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May is National Bike Month

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There is a reason why learning how to ride a bike is such a milestone for children. It is not only a fun way to explore and connect with friends, but it can also be a regular means of commuting. In terms of shrinking your carbon foot print there are few better things you can do than drive your car less. While carpooling and public transportation are great alternatives, riding a bike is even better. Celebrating this month is a great way to start! Within the month-long celebration May 15th – 19th is National Bike to Work week and May 19th is Bike to Work Day.

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Cities have taken note of the benefits of biking. In efforts to cut down on pollution and mitigate traffic congestion, many urban areas have adopted bike share programs. These eliminate having to buy a bike and worrying about storing and locking it. There has also been a recent effort in urban planning to implement bike lanes and paths to make commutes safer and more convenient than ever.

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Biking doesn’t have to be purely practical, however. It can be social and philanthropic too! Here are some biking events in New York City, but check out events in your area here – tons of cities are celebrating!

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When you are cruising around this month remember these tips:

  • Always wear a helmet; it could save your life.
  •  Wear reflective gear or have a light on your bike so you will be seen after the sun goes down.
  • Know the rules of the road. Familiarize yourself with the bike paths and lanes in your area so you can ride in harmony with cars and pedestrians.

Happy pedaling!

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