From sustainable fashion to reusable water bottles, Love Island 2022 has broken barriers on environmentally conscious mainstream television programming. ITV Studios tells IEMA how to make a popular series more sustainable.

Love Island contestants
Source: ITV Studios

From sustainable fashion to reusable water bottles, Love Island 2022 has broken barriers on environmentally conscious mainstream television programming. In light of clear efforts to bring more eco-friendly elements to the series, I spoke with ITV Studios head of sustainable production, to find out what goes on behind the scenes to turn the islanders into green role models.

3 million people tuned in to the first episode of Love Island 2022, half a million more than the first episode of the 2021 series, showing that its popularity is only growing, in particular with under 35’s. Love Island’s popularity and position on prime time TV make it an extremely powerful tool for influencing the ideas and behaviors of young people in the UK and beyond.

Phil Holdgate is Head of Production Sustainability at ITV Studios – the creators of programmes including Love Island, which includes producing for the UK (by ITV Studios label Lifted Entertainment) and licensing its international versions. Phil told me about the sustainability work ITV Studios does on both the editorial and behind the scenes aspects of Love Island, the UK version of which is filmed in Mallorca, Spain.

Phil said:

“I work with our production companies to improve the sustainability of programmes like Love Island both on and off screen. On screen, that means things like having the Islanders use their iconic refillable water bottles – something we’ve been doing since series one. We’ve gone on to sell over 950,000 Love Island water bottles since their first appearance in season 1, potentially preventing the use and disposal of millions of single-use plastic water bottles.

“For this season, we have chosen to partner with eBay as a key sponsor, and have introduced second hand clothing and encouraged the sharing of outfits. This has led to a 700% increase in Love Island fans searching for pre-loved fashion on eBay.

“Since 2018, the last five seasons of Love Island have been certified as sustainable productions by albert – the independent industry body which helps TV and film to move towards more sustainable production practices.”

Love Island villa
Source: ITV Studios

albert, which is was created by a team at BBC but is now hosted by BAFTA, described itself as “the home of environmental sustainability for film and TV. This is the place to share, learn and act on our impact.” They provide training, sustainability frameworks and certification to production companies and you will likely have seen their badge at the end of some TV and film creations, including Love Island.

Genevieve Margrett, communications manager at albert, said:

“We’ve been working with the TV and film industry for 10 years now to help them implement sustainability initiatives behind the scenes. For the past 5 years, we've also been pushing for production companies to keep the public informed about environment and sustainability issues via editorial work, for example, by adding elements of sustainable lifestyles into storylines. It shouldn’t be left to natural history programming to do all the heavy lifting, so it goes right across the industry.

“albert provides training and an online carbon calculator to production teams so they can measure their emissions. We then reward albert Certification to those productions who take steps to reduce those emissions. We also encourage producers to use local crews to cut down on staff travel, to end the use of single use plastics, and to cut domestic flights in the UK. Crew travel, accommodation and energy use tend to be the more carbon intensive aspects of any production.”

Richard Smith FIEMA, Head of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Manchester, and co-founder of albert, said:

“I was a Home Affairs Correspondent at the BBC when the corporation formed its environment team. My interest in the environment led me to ask to join and I was brought in on a 6 month temporary basis to try and set up a carbon calculator for TV productions. Within about 4 months I’d created the calculator – which ended up being called albert – and the first production that used it to measure its carbon emissions was Eastenders.

“After the calculator was shown to be feasible, and was transferred from the BBC to BAFTA, it was adapted into a version which was able to be used by all TV and film productions, and the first major film it certified was 1917. It’s now ubiquitous and there’s probably not an hour that goes by on UK TV which doesn’t feature an albert certified programme.”

Phil at ITV Studios also told about the work being done by international Love Island productions aside from the UK. He said:

"We have created a ‘Love Island hub’ in Gran Canaria which can be used by overseas broadcasters - the Dutch version has recently filmed there - therefore removing the demand for additional venues and avoids duplicating things like set construction and shipping equipment. For last year's US version, which was filmed in Hawaii, the editing crew remained behind in LA and used remote technology, rather than flying out to be physically at the filming location.”

“Back in the UK, the work we’ve done with eBay and behind the scenes work with albert has been made a lot more possible by the impact our refillable water bottles have had. That simple action has helped shift the dial and encourage more sustainable thinking by viewers and those working on the programme.”

The winners of this season’s Love Island in the UK are due to be announced at the series finale on Monday 1 August 2022.


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