ASU Gammage turns audiences green, but not because of bad acting


If you’ve ever enjoyed a world-renowned play at Arizona State University’s Gammage theater, you’ve probably taken a program or two home. But did you ever wonder about the trees that made those programs? ASU Gammage did.

Each year, ASU Gammage prints close to 350,000 programs. That’s a lot of trees.

To chip away at the impact, ASU Gammage has printed its programs and other marketing materials on FSC-certified paper with soy-based inks since 2010.

In case you are new to the sustainability scene, “FSC” stands for Forest Stewardship Council and they have some pretty strict rules about protecting forests for future generations. When you see their black-and-white logo on ASU Gammage programs, that means the trees that made the paper came from a FSC-certified forest that follows all of FSC’s standards on conservation, quality, and sustainability.

FSC logo

“People notice the FSC logo on our products; it’s a badge of quality,” says Victor Hamburger, director of marketing and communications for ASU Gammage. “When people see it, they know that we care. And because ASU Gammage is part of the university, it also ties that FSC brand and image to ASU.”

All of of ASU Gammage’s programs are printed on FSC stock at the Phoenix print shop, Courier Graphics. Phoenix-based publisher ON Media provides support in content marketing, design, and sales.

But that wasn’t always the case. Prior to 2010, ASU Gammage’s programs were printed in California and driven more than 500 miles to Arizona via carbon-emitting transportation trucks. Since programs are ASU Gammage’s largest source of paper, the theater wanted to find a more sustainable option.

“We strongly believe in the vision of ASU as a New American University,” Hamburger says. “We have a responsibility to innovate and use that innovation to make a difference in our community. We think being sustainable is one step to accomplish that goal.”

A printer works on this year's program covers.

ASU Gammage has a strong connection to the surrounding community and a specific interest in the sustainability of the local economy. In fact, sustainability is part of the culture at ASU.

“For every dollar a person spends on a ticket for a traveling Broadway show at ASU Gammage, there is an additional $4.10 of economic impact created,” says Hamburger. “The fact that we also print locally keeps more of those dollars in our community.”

And when there’s a small change in a community, you can be sure others will follow.

“ASU Gammage is a leader in the touring Broadway world,” says Hamburger. “We feel that by making the shift to FSC, we can make a strong statement nationally and encourage other theaters around the country to make that move. Together, we can have a larger impact on our entire industry.”

By Natalie Muilenberg
Editor Assistant, Global Institute of Sustainability
[email protected]