Design for life

Hannah designs environmentally friendly costumes, sets and props

Hannah Bradbeer is making sure her work as a set and costume designer in the theatres is as environmentally friendly as possible. Most of the materials she uses are reused and recycled.

Using charity shops for customers

She finds charity shops are great for sourcing material. For her costumes, she always starts off by looking in local charity shops to get as much second hand clothing as she can; bed sheets can also be cut up and dyed into costume material. Sourcing materials in this not only helps the environment, but also support lots of great causes. Hannah hopes it will soon become the ‘norm’ to shop in charity shops instead of big brand stores.

Recycling and reusing props

Hannah tries to recycle costumes and props from her previous shows, for example, by turning scrap pieces of fabric into fur collars for one show and later using them as wolf tails for another.

At the end of a show, Hannah used to be heartbroken by the amount that was thrown away. Skips would be hired in to dispose of the sets and props. She now ensures all of the set is transported back to her workshop where she breaks it down into manageable pieces and re-uses the wood and set pieces for future shows.

If she can’t reuse items, she will find a new home for them. She recently had a piece of set that she couldn’t reuse for another show and so she donated it to a local pre-school who now love their new play surface.

Creative with materials

Hannah loves to create props out of reused and recycled materials, as she feels it’s a lot more creative than purchasing online. Reusing items has been a fantastic way for Hannah to expand her knowledge and skills on how different materials can be used, meaning she now creates things from materials that she wouldn’t usually use.

Hannah said: “Saving the environment is very important to me, so ensuring that I can have the same environmentally friendly passion in my work as well as my everyday life will hopefully ensure that I am doing my bit to help save, or at least reduce my impact, on the environment.”

Obviously some things cannot be reused, so when Hannah does need to responsibly dispose of waste, she finds it encouraging that the Council support recycling and responsible waste disposal. 

Spreading the message

Over the years she’s experienced a lot of festivals run or supported by the Council that encourage the recycling and reusing of materials. For example, the Enliven festival plays host to many projects, such as fashion shows in which all of the clothing is made from recycled materials.

Hannah works with a lot of people who are supportive and open to suggestions about how to make their profession more environmentally friendly. A lot of companies who share Hannah's same passion hire her so to advise on how to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

She works with a lot of Youth Theatres where she shows them how their costumes are created through recycling and reusing materials. She hopes this will encourage younger people in the Borough to understand the importance of recycling materials and inspire them to do the same.

Hannah uses Instagram to show what materials she reuses, promote recycling and encourage people to be more environmentally friendly. By sharing her eco-friendly designs online, she inspires others to create their own designs.

In her profession it is difficult to be environmentally friendly; by recycling and reusing materials sometimes it means she has to compromise on the design or the overall look of a costume or set piece in order to use that material.

She advises others to start by making small changes; whether it’s recycling more, using charity shops instead of buying new and donating clothes/material to charity. She believes that if everyone starts by doing one thing to help the environment it will make a difference. Hannah doesn’t expect everyone to dramatically change every element of their lifestyle but just helping a little bit could help tackle the climate emergency.