Theatre Green Book PRODUCTIONS Toolkit – Wigs, Hair and Make-up (WHAM)


Wigs, Hair and Make-up

With thanks to Anette Ollerearnshaw and the ABTT Wigs, Hair and Make-up Group


  1. Sustainability ethos and ambitions to be embedded into all creative and technical processes:
      • Foreground and focus on the rich contribution of our specialists
      • Innovate in collaboration with other specialism
  2. Reduce physical waste, increase waste recycling/reuse.
  3. Reduce equipment energy consumption.
  4. Eliminate/replace/reduce wasteful practices.
  5. Build on sustainability successes incrementally and share these to industry (for example via the Association of British Theatre Technicians WHAM Commitee) 


    1. Departments to implement a dedicated WHAM Production Sustainability Champion, and as a moving role if possible. Person must be included in the wider production effort at each stage of the creative process.
    2. Education and awareness of sustainability, use of trackers and carbon calculator, their importance facilitated, and time for this specifically scheduled in as standard. 
    3. Use digital systems and displays for communications and information sharing where possible if a carbon saving can be ensured. (Invest in developing digital skillsets.)
    4. Production schedules and changes to be approved by WHAM with a sustainability mindset as primary influence.
    5. Sustainability successes, challenges and objectives included in post-production reviews.
    6. Objectives to be SMART = Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound.
    7. Statistics to be included in show bibles and contributed to production reports and information used for revivals and co-productions.

DESIGN (Creation)

  1. WHAM team to be included in the early conversations and decisions of the creative process in order to have real and meaningful sustainable impact.
  2. Whilst our work allows us to be immediately responsive to design changes during the rehearsal process, producers, designers and directors need to collaborate effectivel. (In most cases a WHAM team can provide insight on what changes would be possible without impacting sustainability. Our work can remain fluid and is live throughout the lifecycle of a production.)
  3. WHAM Designers to start their creative process by looking at resources are already in stock and how/if they could be included in the production realisation and thus reduce purchasing or making anew.


  1. Choose natural products where possible. The hierarchy of needs for our product choices can be driven by many elements including speed, strength, texture, colour, effectiveness, hygiene, and compatibility
  2. Ethical considerations also concern animal cruelty-free choices, especially for cosmetics and hair products.
  3. Opt for professional make-up brands with refillable palletes and refillable products over fashion make-up brands as they often place more emphasis on trendy branding and have more packaging for presentation and marketability purposes
  4. Buy bulk and de-pot into biodegradable or environmentally friendly reusable containers where possible. 
  5. Most make-up products are consumables and consideration for use-by-date due to skin and hygiene concerns must be included. Often ‘just-in-time’ shopping, rather than bulk buying stock is preferable for freshness. 
  6. Use products made with recyclable/biodegradable or without unnecessary packaging.
  7. Choose suppliers who use recycled packaging and ethical postal services where possible. (Encourage industry partners/suppliers to change their practices if they are not already doing so.)
  8. When considering sponsorships, investigate and consider the sponsor’s sustainability credits and their products’ performance in regards to this. 
  9. Collaborate with other departments for reuse/exchange of materials; could be facilitated via a digital space where offers and requests can be actively communicated internally.For example: used cotton t-shirts from the costume department may be ideal for use as rag in the workshops, or small material offcuts from the props store may be useful for the creation of headdresses, or old tights can be washed and used as pads to glue wigs on with.
  10. A well-balanced stock of wigs and hair pieces is a truly sustainable asset, as it can be infinitely reused, restyled, and repaired. 
  11. Digital wigs and hair stock cataloguing systems should be kept and constantly updated to maximise use of items already in existence.
  12. Interconnected wig hire/exchange systems through organisations such as Opera Europa could be useful. However, this can present additional workload and logistics challenges.
  13. For co-productions it would always be useful to be included in the producers’ conversations around the hire of wigs and related contractual agreements. 
  14. Wigs and make-up work may need to be adapted in terms of material choices when a production is filmed or broadcast. Early conversations with the WHAM team are essential in addressing sustainability factors and efficiencies.
  15. For touring or performances in external venues, liaise with producers to negotiate use of already present kit and equipment to be accessible for use, so as to reduce use of transport. 

Material principles to consider:

  • Cruelty free, vegan
  • Made with eco-friendly natural ingredients
  • Biodegradable, non-toxic
  • Locally made
  • Locally shopped
  • Hand made
  • No unnecessary (recyclable) packaging for transit or presentation
  • Refillable


  1. Concious efficiency and effectiveness in our practice go a long way in reducing waste.
  2. Waste separation/disposal for consumables in all workshop and production settings (for example including quick change booths on stage).
  3. Hazardous waste minimised and disposed of responsibly
  4. Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) to be filtration-based instead of disposal-to-atmosphere system.
  5. Prosthetics and special effects such as bald caps are not yet replaceable with eco-friendly materials; this is an area that is transitioning towards digital making practices that can contribute towards the transformation of how work is made. It is important that WHAM colleagues are given access and support in being at the forefront of digital innovations, as it is not always part of our core skillsets.
  6. Where possible choose eco-friendly construction and materials and keep abreast of developments across the industry.
  7. Prioritise use of eco-friendly stationary.
  8. Using suitable well-built shelving and wood, metal, or cardboard as material for storage systems instead of plastics which can easily break and add to departmental waste. (When designing new spaces, choose quality over quantity and do so with longevity in mind.)
  9. Flight cases and make-up bags to be well built and purchased with longevity in mind; avoid single-use plastic if possible.
  10. Develop a clear and easily followed in-house framework of practice that can be passed on to freelance crew when they are hired in. Good practice will spread over time.
  11. Electrical equipment to be on timers and sensors where possible, as well as new kit purchases to consider energy efficiency.
  12. Strive to maintain and repair equipment, fittings and furniture where feasible. 
  13. If PAT testing shows a fail, seek help from electrical department or equipment makers to repair as identified.
  14. Liaise with other technical departments on disposal and recycling of e-waste


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