Rather than driving to a giant, 16-screen theater, movie-goers can watch an independent film at a small-scale theater in downtown Champaign, Ill.
According to Sanford Hess, manager of the Art Theater, a number of environmental practices have been in operation since the theater's opening in January.
Hess purchases popcorn from a local farmer in Danville, Ill., a town about 35 miles east of Champaign, who personally delivers the product in his car.
"The local aspect is easy because we're in corn country," Hess said.
He also orders baked goods from Pekara, a bakery located one block away from the theater.
"There's no carbon footprint for that because we walk over and pick it up," Hess said. "These things are as much about being in touch with the local community as anything else. It's fun to be an active co-participant with other downtown businesses."
Popcorn is served in bags made from recycled paper. While they cannot be recycled after use, they occupy less space in garbage bags and landfills than do cardboard tubs.
Alcoholic drinks are served in plastic cups made from corn. The cups, manufactured by EcoProducts, can be thrown into the garbage and will compost within 90 days, according to their website.
"If I had [regular] plastic cups, I would try to recycle them and it just becomes a huge mess," Hess said. "We serve beer out of cans and it's really easy for us to recycle the cans, but the cups would be hard to manage."
Recycling bins are available inside the theater for cans and pre-bottled drinks. Because recycling collection for businesses is expensive in Champaign, Hess drives the bottles and cans to the local recycling plant.
According to Hess, these environmental standards are a marketable aspect of the theater.
"Our audience likes these things," he said. "Our audience is into ... trying to do more than just the standard practices."