Guest post by Simon Strandvik
During my years as a project manager for the eco-label Keep Sweden Tidy I was involved in environmental work of over 100 different events like music festivals, sporting events, conferences and fairs. Throughout these years, I’ve found good examples of how to communicate environmental issues and my biggest lesson was that there must be a combination of enthusiasts who are passionate about environmental issues and a management team that prioritizes the issue. There are many different ways to communicate the event’s environmental activities and conditions are unique for each time. However, there are certain patterns and here are nine things you as an organizer can do to reduce the environmental impact around your event:
1) Influence mode of travel
The greatest climate impact during an event is caused by visitors and participants’ travels to and from the event. Recently an exhibition center told me that they had made a climate survey that showed that 95% of all greenhouse gases of their business came from the participants’ journeys to and from their events. Encourage both visitors and officials to take the train or public transport. Make it easy for visitors to check train times on the website of the event and on info screens during the event.
2) Work with local public transportation
Many of the events I have visited created a well-functioning cooperation with local public transportation companies, so that visitors are able to easily get to and from the event from the train station. This will not be possible for all events, but I firmly believe there will be more possible than you thought.
3) Cut the physical giveaways.
An incredible waste of resources is all the giveaways handed out during the event. I think it is both antiquated and unimaginative to give away keychains, and other nonsense. I would guess that 99% of the giveaways just thrown in a trash can just that same day. There will be more jobs in waste management and disturb the visitors. If you should have any giveaway or gift – then think through carefully what it can be and what benefits it actually gives to the participants or visitors. Sponsors sometimes require a giveaway possibility, and this can be difficult to confront. But honestly, how hard is it to think of something else other than to give away lot of junk?
4) Set environmental requirements when purchasing
As an organizer, you have the power to influence what is purchased. When it comes to large volumes, this may mean an extra cost for selecting the eco-labeled products, but think of the advocacy opportunity you have. Eco-labeling of products becomes more than the hygiene factor, just check the toilet paper and washing powder today, where there are almost no products with no eco-label. We see it more and more on other product as well. Although there will be a price difference, when buying big quantities this will be minimal. Products should be environmentally labeled from the soap in the portable loos, to the program sheets and press materials. Choosing eco-labeled products are a good and visible communicative tool to lift environmental awareness.
5) Shop local
Services from local companies contribute to a reduced environmental impact due to reduced transportation movements. In addition, local partnerships often provide a lot of goodwill and the local community will benefit from the event. Buy the products and services from companies in the vicinity instead of saving a few extra dollars on some larger or more reputable company. After Remains from The contribution from large events to the local economy is not easy to measure but it is quite clear that large events often provide an increased revenue to a city or a community.
6) Use an app instead of guides
We live in a world where almost all of us check their mobile phone more than 900 times per day. To have the program on a cell phone is increasingly becoming a must. There are lots of great apps that can be used. To facilitate this, be sure to have a well functioning free wifi and provide the opportunity to recharge mobile phones.
7) Offer vegetarian food
We must begin to reduce our meat-eating if we want to keep feeding the growing world’s population. In Sweden we eat much more meat per per person than just 10 years ago. Meat in large quantities is not good for your body nor the environment. Especially beef has a large environmental impact. I chose to eat vegetarian last year and thus reduced my meat consumption by 60 kg. This meant reduced emissions by about 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide, and I counted up that if I would step in a normal petrol car and ride up this carbon dioxide, I would be able to drive to South Africa. So yes, meat can affect climate much. But to remove the meat completely might be a step too far initially, but you can highlighted the vegetarian choices as the most obvious and still have the opportunity for others to buy meat.
8) Provide tap water
During a major event visitors drink many liters of water and this often means logistical problems and plenty of bottles that arise as waste. Certainly there is a hygienic factor too, but we have plenty of clean water in our taps. There are many events that organize taps and give visitors the opportunity to refill their bottle with tap water. Another good way to communicate environmental commitment.
9) Sort your trash.
Sorting at events is an important contribution to the environment and can save money for the organizers. In addition, recycling is an excellent way to communicate your concern for the environment. You will never be able to get 100% sorting of waste, but you can get a long way by using different colors for different containers. One problem I often encountered is that the signs are not good enough and then the wast get mixed. Also make sure the signs are clear and at eye level or higher.
There are so many creative ways to communicate environmental issues, everything from solar panels to charge your mobile to fun garbage picking contests, but the most important is that you take a holistic approach and thus know about the shortcomings and communicate the things you are proud of.
Author: Simon Strandvik. Simon is the founder of Green Time. A company with a focus on green transformation and sustainable development for the tourism industry. The company helps customers with environmental training, certifications and sustainability. Simon is also a lecturer in the environmental field.
Published in Swedish on June 3, 2015 at www.mötesbranschen.se