Green Practices in Theatre – Part 4: Wardrobe

By Broadway Green Alliance
Information compiled and written by Veronica Flesher

Green practices aren’t just in reducing waste. There are several ways you can decrease your production’s environmental impact through your wardrobe department.



Invest in an ENERGY STAR washer, which on average uses 20 percent less energy and 35 percent less water than basic models of new washers on the market. An ENERGY STAR washer saves approximately 284 kWh of electricity and 3,385 gallons of water a year compared with a non-ENERGY STAR model.

For more information, please see the NRDC’s Saving Water and Energy through Clothes Washer Replacement.

By purposely selecting fabrics for costumes that are more durable and easily cleaned, your costume designs can help reduce toxic cleaning procedures.

  • Favor materials that can be water-washed rather than ones that require dry cleaning to help minimize the use of toxic cleaning chemicals.
  • Minimize the use of bleaches and dyes and choose non-toxic products to the extent feasible.
  • Avoid very delicate materials, such as silk, that will break down quickly and need to be replaced. Favor more durable blends and smart textiles that will last longer.


Laundry Tips

  • Wash your clothes in cold water whenever possible. New cleaning agents found in many high-efficiency detergents perform just as well or even better in cold water.
  • Turn down the thermostat on your water heater to 120°F. Most water heaters are set at 140°F when 120°F is sufficiently hot for most household needs.
  • Wait until you have a full load before washing. If washing a smaller load, adjust the water level setting appropriately.
  • Don’t use the “sanitary cycle” setting on your washer unless absolutely necessary. This cycle, which heats water to higher temperatures, uses significantly more energy.
  • To save energy, money and extend the life of your clothes, line-dry them. But if you intend to use a dryer, use the “high spin speed” or “extended spin” washing option to remove excess moisture from your clothes. This will reduce the amount of time and energy needed to dry your clothes in the dryer.
  • Consider installing a laundry-to-landscape gray water system, which uses gray water from your clothes washer instead of potable water to irrigate your yard.





The Theatre Development Fund’s Costume Collection program will pick up any usable costumes or costume pieces from closing shows, and provides discounted rentals to nonprofit theatres.

Material for the Arts accepts donations of costumes, fabrics, trim, and other accessories. Shows can either drop off donations at their Long Island City warehouse, or donations over 250 pounds and/or over $1000 in value will qualify for a free pickup. Pickups should be scheduled 3-4 weeks in advance. Donations can also be shipped. Contact them at or call 718-729-2065.

Wearable Collections has many drop-off locations throughout New York, including a collection barrel at the BGA office, Actors’ Federal Credit Union, and Local 764 Wardrobe Union year-round. The BGA also hosts semi-annual textile drives in Times Square (March and September) to collect used costumes, clothing, accessories (such as shoes, handbags, belts, and hats), curtains, linens, towels, and other textiles for reuse and recycling by Wearable Collections.

Also by Broadway Green Alliance:

Waste Reduction: Green Practices in Theatre Part 2

Getting to Work: Green Practices in Theatre Part 3

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