Lofty Progress

LoftpanoramoThe Loft Cinema in Tucson is a non-profit movie theater that shows indie documentary, and classic films to movie-goers in southern Arizona. In addition to providing a unique alternative to chain movie houses, the Loft is making Tucson a better place to live by reducing the environmental impacts of their business in creative ways. Here are some impressive things they are doing to reduce their waste generation, energy use, water consumption and pollution. Waste Reduction The Loft offers two alternatives to putting things in the trash can - compost and recycling. The Loft has compost bins in the theaters for movie-goers to place leftover popcorn and other snacks, and they also offer single-stream recycling for all materials accepted in Tucson. These efforts help The Loft keep a huge amount of waste out of the landfills, reducing stress on landfill space and the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that landfills create. Movie-goers can help The Loft make an even bigger impact by making an effort to put their food waste and recyclables in the proper containers.

trash2An important part of reducing waste is making sure that the materials offered can be recycled and/or composted in the first place. The Loft has done that by avoiding Styrofoam and using paper plates and popcorn bags that can be composted. Upstream changes are crucial for waste reduction and it is inspiring to see The Loft thinking thoughtfully about their purchasing decisions.  Other ways they help reduce waste is to reusing scrap paper, sending digital invoices for membership, safely disposing of hazardous waste and sending unclaimed Lost and Found items to a local nonprofit.

Adaptive Reuse Loftscreen3The greenest building is one that already exists so when The Loft was ready to expand, they re-purposed an existing building that was formerly an auto shop. Renovating and redecorating transformed the garage into a unique and hip theater space. The Loft avoided both the waste that demolition creates and the natural resources and energy needed to build a new building from scratch. It takes some vision and creativity, but adaptive reuse of older buildings is one of the best ways to reduce the environmental impacts of development.

Energy Efficiency Energy use is one of the most significant environmental impacts for a movie theater. The Loft is working to reduce their energy use by switching to energy efficient lighting options, like LED and higher efficiency fluorescent bulbs when their lighting is ready to be replaced. They also use automated lighting control devices and Energy Star equipment where possible. Energy Star is the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard for energy efficient office equipment and home appliances. Simple switches like these can make a significant dent in energy usage, and can lead to cost savings.

IMG_1651Native Plants For their landscaping, The Loft uses primarily native and low-water use plants. In the arid Southwest, being mindful of water consumption is more important than ever. Fortunately, Arizona boasts many species of beautiful plants that are adapted to low water conditions. By using these plants to decorate their patio, The Loft is showing off Arizona flora while being mindful of water consumption.

Natural Ingredients The Loft strives for natural ingredients in both their food offerings and their cleaning products. They serve organic popcorn, which is a healthier and more environmentally-friendly option than conventional popcorn. They don’t use harmful chemicals for their popcorn machine cleaning system but instead, they use good old-fashioned elbow grease. Conventional popcorn cleaners require an entire batch of popcorn to be thrown away after a cleaning because the popcorn isn’t safe to eat after being in contact with residue from the cleaner. By avoiding these chemical-based cleaners, The Loft makes the popcorn healthier for people and keeps toxic chemical waste away from the water supply, while avoiding the food waste created by throwing away an entire batch of popcorn.

Local Sourcing The Loft uses local companies for the snacks they sell and business services they use as much as possible. By doing this, The Loft reduces the amount of carbon needed to transport products while simultaneously boosting the local economy. Sourcing local has triple bottom line benefits,  the environment, the economy, and the community.

We’re inspired to see this amazing local business that is paying attention to their role in the community. And while they’ve made big strides in being good environmental stewards, they are also actively seeking ways to continually improve their operations. Way to go Loft Cinema for making Tucson a healthier, more sustainable place!