Greenwashed Theater Charges for Being "Green"

sundance kabuki theater screenshot image

A sort-of explanation of the fees on Sundance Kabuki's website

Greenwashing is a pet peeve of any greenie, so when I walked into a theater and was charged an extra fee for the tickets just because it was a "green" theater, I had a few questions.

And the answers I received set off my greenwash radar alarms.Last weekend I visited the Sundance Kabuki theater in San Francisco to catch a film. The main reason for the choice of theater was its location. I didn't have another quality reason to pick it out of any other theater, though now I have a reason to avoid it.

When I was told the ticket price, there was a $2 fee attached to it. I asked what the fee was for. The booth attendant told me it's because it is a green theater, and the money goes to them being green. Hum...really?

I asked what they did that was green, and she replied that all their utensils are made of corn and potatoes (ie, bioplastic, and definitely not more green than washing reusable utensils with earth-friendly soap and water-efficient dishwashers) and they recycle all their garbage (which can't be true because not everything coming into the theater is recyclable).

I then asked if they use alternative energy to power the theater. She gave me a funny look. Like solar power, I clarified. She told me she didn't know, handed me my ticket, and implied I should step out of the line already.

It's not a good idea to tell a greenie that people are getting charged $2 extra just so the theater can do the most basic of "green" acts, some of which aren't even so green. Investigating further, I came to the conclusion that this was indeed a seriously greenwashed response to my question, and to their fees.

On the theater's website, they state that part (and only a small part) of the reason why they charge these extra fees is because they recycle, compost, and "maintain as green a facility as possible for our industry." (Not true - a theater in my home town is run off 100% solar power...that's a greener theater in the same industry, and they charged only $6 a ticket.)

Additionally, the theater was remodeled using post-consumer grade materials, recycled products and locally reclaimed resourced. Uh huh, and for this, the theater is actually charging people?

This is a prime example of runaway greenwashing. They list other reasons that are far more believable for the reasons behind the fees, and they should stick with those. Telling people that they're being charged just so the theater can take the most basic steps to clean up their act, steps that should be taken anyway, only highlights how the idea of green can be sadly taken advantage of. They should get an award for their farce.

Moral of the story - keep your greenwash alert hat on when you head out on the town, because there's bound to be a whole lot more of this kind of thing happening throughout the upcoming year.

More on Greenwashing:
How To Spot Greenwashing
The Semiotics of Greenwashing
MTV Switch Video Targets Greenwashing

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