Reducing the carbon footprint of the pole dancing industry.
Many industries are starting to look at their own practices to evaluate how sustainable their business models actually are. Whether you are a pole dancing student or pole dancing instructor your chosen actvitity may not be as green as it could be.
How can we make pole dancing better for the planet. To find out we looked at a feasability report carried out on a pole dancing studio in Europe, The report was carried out by Anja Keilen, MSc Learning for Sustainability. Anja looked at some of the elements of running a pole dancing studio and observed ways in which sustainability can be dramatically improved. We took Anja's recommendations and looked at ways they can be applied to studios across the globe.
Let's start with pole fashion;
How many of us have indugled in the enticing world of pole fashion, who doesn't want a killer pair of heels or spangly hotpants? This is a big area where we can be more ethical. For a start there are many auction sites selling second hand pole items so you don't have to buy new. When buying products look at where they were made, how far they have travelled and what they are made from. Think about the processes involved in manufacture.
Do you need to buy a pole brand name or can you find items on auction sites and secondhand shops that fulfill your requirements? Do you really need sequins and glitter or can you ditch the sparkly bits so that the plastics don't break down in your wash and end up in the sea causing damage to marine life. Do you need 12 pairs of pleasers or can you cope with just one pair? If your shoes are looking a little worn can you get them mended by a cobbler or can you do them up yourself? if you are going to buy new can you supprt a local business? Could you contact a local clothes maker and ask them to make products for you? Perhaps we can lobby our pole fashion providers to encourage them to make their own practices more sustainable?
Do you know that 350,000 tonnes, that's around £140 million worth of used but still wearable clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year. This equates to more than 30% of our unwanted clothing currently goes to landfill (source clothesaid.co.uk).
Pole dancing poles.
In the sustainability report Anja noticed how the poles in the UK studio were sourced from many miles away. All the poles were made in China and there was no sustainability advice on the pole manufacturers website. Anja questioned whether the poles could be sourced more locally. Another manufacturer was identified in Europe which was much closer geographically to the UK studio. It was noted that the european manufacturer was charging a lot more for their product so the studio needed to way up the financially viabiity against the environmental viability. In additon to the amount of miles a product has travelled the report also looked into the longevity of poles used. The chinese product needed regular replacements due to being plated and having many different parts. The european product was made of solid stainless steel so should last for a long time. The findings suggsted that the best option for purchasing poles would be to have them custom made in your geographic location from a recyclable metal. This may not be an option that all studio owners can afford but it is the best thing for the planet. Could we lobby our pole providers to ask them to provide more environmentally friendly options?
Did you know that every tonne of recycled steel saves (source recyclemetals.org):
- 1.5 tonnes of iron ore
- 0.5 tonnes of coal
- 70% of the energy
- 40% of the water
- 75% of CO2 emissions
- 0.97 tonnes of CO2
Insulate your studio.
Can you make your studio better insulated and reduce your utility bills? If you hire a venue can you ask your landlord to make environmental improvements to the premises? Avoid training with the heating on and the windows open. Keep your heating set at a lower temperature wheverver possible.
The reports suggests we must reuse or recycle items wherever possible. We all know that recycling and upcycling are great things to do but what about refusing in the first place? Do I really need to buy this item? i.e. Do you need to buy another pair of pole shorts or do you already have more than you need? The studio featured in the report was selling mineral water in single use plastic bottles, the studio was recycling the plastic bottles but after the report single use plastic was banned from the studio and students were encouraged to bring their own drinks containers that they could fill up with tap water,
Many studios sell pole related items and snacks on their premises to help produce additonal revenue. Aside from thinking about how sustainable those items are we need to look at the packaging. So many things we buy come in additional but unecessary plastic packaging. The studio featured in the report was advised to switch from plastic carrier bags to recycled paper bags when selling items. We can all start to make little changes in our purchases and we can express our views to suppliers to encourage them to reduce packaging whever possible.
Reduce the use of harmful chemicals.
Often a studio cleaning cupboard could be filled with numerous products. Can you reduce the number of products you use? Can you purchase eco-friendly cleaning products? Can you use eco-labelled cleaning products for the poles?
Ditch plastic - Can you buy items that don't come in plastic packaging?
Rethink foam - Like plastic, polystyrene leaches chemicals – particularly when exposed to heat such as a cup of coffee or hot tea
Take a breath of fresh air - Avoid artificial air fresheners, If it smells, it’s probably made from chemicals and some are known carcinogens
Buy fairtrade products wherever possible.
In your kitchen do you have fairtrade items such as tea and coffee? Can you source your tea/coffee/milk locally? Look carefully at all your items, think about things like are the items overpackaged, have the items travelled a long way to get to you? Do you really need the items?
Is your studio on a water meter?
Using a water meter will make you aware of your water consumption and hopefully the cost of the water will make you want to reduce your output.
Do you use disposable items such as paper towels?
The report was written before the Covid pandemic so the advise given in the sustainability report is not in line with current Covid guidelines. At the time of the report the studio was advised to use washable hand towels and pole cloths rather than disposable options. Hopefully, after the pandemic we can return to washable, reusable items.
So not all of us require sanitary products but for those of us that do can you opt for reusable options such as period pants and menstrual cups? Can you ditch the disposable pad, tampons and plastic applicators? Could you make your own period pad out of recycled material from a secondhand shop?
Did you know that close to 20 billion sanitary pads, tampons and applicators are dumped into North American landfills every year. When wrapped in plastic bags, feminine hygiene waste can take centuries to biodegrade. The average woman uses over 11,000 tampons over her lifetime, leaving behind residue far beyond her lifespan. (source - https://digital.hbs.edu/platform-rctom/submission/the-ecological-impact-of-feminine-hygiene-products/)
Keeping it local.
Anja pointed out that many studios have had success from setting up local buy/swap/sell/donate groups on social media. Encouraging recycling and reusing among your pole dancing friends is a great way to help the planet and make sure items are wasted or unused. It's also perfect for swapping and selling those items you have bought off the internet, ordered the wrong size and are currently languishing in your wardrobe.
If some of your studio activity cannot be changed can you offset your carbon footprint? Could your studio plant trees or donate to a tree planting charity? Could you raise awareness of environmental issues with your fellow polers to help them reduce their carbon footprint?
You may not be prepared to take all or any of these options but as global awareness of the threats to our planet become more apparent we may be forced to make these decisions and the sooner we act the better for the environment. In the Pole Dance Community office we are currently reviewing our practices to see if we can become even greener, we'll report back asap.
If you don't already have your own environmental policy why not contact your local university and see if there is an environmental student who can carry out a sustainability policy on your pole studio. If you have changed practices in your studio or if you have great ideas to share just pop us an e-mail and we would love to feature your ideas. If you sell items in the pole industry and you are making changes for the better please let us kmow so we can share the news with our members.
Thank you to Anja Keilen, Msc for allowing us access to her report.