How eco-friendly is Survivor?

Survivor (US)

Any fan of Survivor will recognise aerial shots of a challenge location before contestants are about to do battle

Huge chunks of land are cleared of vegetation, with large-scale challenges ready for battle.

But are tropical paradises being savaged all for our entertainment?

Since 2016 in the US series -and 2018 for Australian Survivor- the show has filmed in Fiji (in part due to favourable conditions from the Fijian government).

Both use separate locations.

Survivor (US)

The eco-friendly question was addressed by the LA Times back in 2011.  According to Castaway, there had been 180 productions of Survivor worldwide at the time, including 18 in the Pearl Islands, and no complaints had been registered against Castaway or its licensed production companies for environmental neglect or insensitivity.

US producer Mark Burnett has said his production crews are required to photograph the sites before the shoot and compare them with photos afterward to make sure the environment looks the same.

Australian Survivor

A spokesperson for Endemol Shine Australia also told TV Tonight, “All access and land use is in consultation with local villages and land owners. Challenge sites and locations are chosen where clearings already exist, and if vegetation is removed it is principally a rapidly regenerating species which are incredibly fast growing in tropical areas, such as bamboo.

“All locations used are returned in an agreeable condition, providing a net positive impact due to rubbish removal, sustainable vegetation management and improved access.”

After filming Season 4 of Australian Survivor last year, all building materials were donated locally,  redistributed for use in local villages still recovering from Cyclone Winston.

Fiji also has limited recycling infrastructure. Insulated reusable bottles were given to crew and water coolers and dispensers were stocked up daily, avoiding thousands of plastic bottles ending up in landfill. Reusable metal cups were given to crew to reduce the number of disposable coffee cups used. All takeaway containers and cutlery for catering were made of compostable natural materials, later buried at challenge locations to break down into organic material.

The current “All Stars” season also made achievements in being green:

  • 115,890 single-use bottles avoided. Laid end to end these would have made a line 20.8km long.
  • 3,286kg of plastic avoided
  • 3,097kg of materials recycled
  • Purchased 100% recycled Fijian-made toilet paper

As part of Australian Survivor war on waste in Fiji, site clean ups were done to pick up rubbish from beaches, challenge…

Posted by Endemol Shine Australia on Monday, February 17, 2020


  1. Those token enviro gestures. I’m all for the insulated reusable bottles and 115,890 water bottles is quite a number but that must be a “worse case scenario” figure of throwing it away once used once. You can reuse a plastic bottle plenty of times but I guess that 115,890 number would come down too much for their liking if they factor that in lol.

  2. timmydownawell

    I suppose this is one positive aspect of not moving to a new location each season, as they can reuse the same site rather than clearing sites in different countries/islands every time. So that in itself reduces environmental damage considerably. Although I do miss the different locations (purely my selfish POV) as you don’t get to appreciate the beautiful waterfalls, lagoons, etc you got to see in the past, let alone the interactions with the local communities.

  3. What is also notable is that challenges both reward and immunity are played in the same locations on rotation. If you have an eagle eye you can see this in the drone shots. Same with the US.

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