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How to run an Eco-Friendly Event. Advice from Australia's biggest event hosts.

Jan 15th 2023

Photo by Aranxa Esteve

Eco-friendly Events

How do you keep your budget in check and your attendees happy while hosting an eco-friendly event? If you’re a host who gives a sh*t about the impact your event has on the planet, you’ve probably struggled with the question. It’s an ongoing challenge in the industry in 2023. So, here is insider knowledge on all things eco from some of our favourite event hosts and programmers.

Strawberry Fields Festival Sustainability & Permaculture https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwHy1OiQEvU

Strawberry Fields Festival Sustainability & Permaculture

1. Track your event energy use and wastage

It will help you understand what your most important impact on the environment is, so you can try to reduce it.

  • Create an inventory of single-use items that attendees are likely to use at the event. This could include plastic water bottles, plates, cups, and cutlery. Keep this list for future reference (and as a way to measure how far you’ve come!)
  • Start small. Many events start by picking one single-use plastic item that can be swapped for reusables at a time.

Here’s a list of single-use plastic items to consider replacing at your event. Starting with even one of these will go a long way:

  • Plastic straws and stirrers, cutlery, bottled water, plastic plates, bowls, cups, wine and champagne glasses.
  • Cling wrap, zip lock bags, takeaway containers, mini condiments such as sauce and butter.
  • Bags (including plastic bin bags), styrofoam and polystyrene, balloons and glitter!

2. Clear policy communication

On any promotional event material, it should clearly state your event policies.

  • Think about how you are communicating that you’re running a zero-waste event that has green rules that need to be adhered to. State clearly what the consequences are for not adhering to them.
  • Establish a policy that encourages all suppliers to submit proposals and quotes electronically.
  • Transport. Send your guests the instructions to make it easy for them not to drive. Suggest that they cycle, walk or take public transport, or carpool if they have to drive. You could even incentivise this by offering a cheaper ticket price, door prize or free snacks for those who arrive by carpool, bike, foot or public transport. This can be based on trust, or by simply showing door staff a time-stamped photo of themselves on their way to your event.

3. Ticketing

4. Venue

  • Water stations. Make sure water stations can be easily located throughout the site to make sure people stay hydrated and refill their bottles.
  • Have drink stalls/bars with drinks on tap.  If everyone brings their own cup there is no need for drinks to be sold in bottles, and therefore no need for a recycling bin.
  • Waste reduction & recycling Have bins clearly marked - FOOD WASTE, COMPOST, RECYCLING and LANDFILL. On each one, mention what goes into them and WHY.
  • If you need a general waste bin, you could have the event goals stated on it, something that makes people think twice before they dispose of anything. Wanderlust Festival displayed that they had a goal of less than 1 bin of general waste over their 4-day yoga event.
  • Utilise renewable energy. Renew fest is run 100% on solar. Some other ideas could be using bikes to generate electrical energy for smartphone-charging purposes.
  • Foster wood props rather than plastic. Some companies use palettes to transport their products only. You can gather some for free and quickly create your own props such as tables, benches, barriers.
  • Toilet paper can be ordered on Whogivesacrap which got rid of single-use packaging. You can even reuse their packaging as décor or for other purposes.
  • Accommodation. Recommend hotels within walking distance of the venue and with proactive waste, water and energy management practices.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwHy1OiQEvU

Strawberry Fields Festival Sustainability & Permaculture

4. Artists

Here are some sobering stats from The Plastic Pollution Coalition: touring acts can go through 60 cases of bottled water a month while on the road. That’s 18,720 plastic bottles a year! An average entertainment tour uses 15-20 plastic bags per day.

  • Raise awareness to influence people who travel to your event to be eco-responsible on their way.
  • Ask artists to provide their own stainless steel or glass bottles, cups, and reusable utensils for their band and crew. Only permit reusable and compostable options.
  • Provide local fruits, vegetables, and snacks not wrapped in plastic for riders and backstage catering.

5. Suppliers & Vendors

Hire food stalls that share the same values! When stallholders are on board with your values, you know that they will adhere to the rules of no single-use items and other avoidable waste related to food and drinks.

  • Avoid single-use and get creative with the way food is served. Anything ‘single-use’ still requires a lot of valuable resources to manufacture, package and transport, only to be thrown in the bin or the compost after a few minutes.
  • Make sure you cater for vegans and celiacs! Renew Fest in Mullumbimby only allowed waste-free caterers to operate at their event.
  • Log into ShareWaste to find the closest community garden or household that is collecting organic matter for compost. Some people will even accept eco cutlery wrapped in newspapers if they have a hot composting system.
  • Make sure their packaging is certified compostable, recyclable, or reusable.
  • Consider the timing of your event and whether catering is even required.
  • Hiring items instead of buying. Set up a cutlery, plate and cup stall where people can hire what they need for a small fee.
  • Make sure there are wash-up bays near the food areas.
  • Contact Wash Against Waste to hire a reusable tableware station.
  • Even eco products that are compostable take a lot of energy to create, so reusable options are still a better first choice. You could even ask participants if they want to volunteer to wash up for a free ticket!

6. Marketing

  • Ban promotional marketing items. Most promotional items are only used once or twice and then forgotten.
  • Any brand that wants to sponsor the event can do so by providing a service that creates value instead of waste. Examples: relaxing area with lounge chairs, refreshing nibble or drink or giving reusable, eco-friendly gifts like reusable bamboo coffee cups or straws.
  • Think experience over stuff. Forget about packaging, map flyers, plastic bracelets. With no stuff, there is no need for plastic bags to carry the ‘stuff’ in!
  • Avoid unnecessary event decor. Balloons, plastic confetti, glitter, battery-powered wrist bands and anything that is an environmental nightmare to deal with afterwards should be avoided.
  • Create art from plastic waste that creates attention or amazes the audience with some mind-blowing stats of how much waste was diverted from landfill.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwHy1OiQEvU

Strawberry Fields Festival Sustainability & Permaculture

All of this makes people feel proud about supporting your event and it will inspire other event organisers to rethink the way they run their events. Hosts that are conscious of the way that their event has impact on the environment are able to provide a space where attendees can have a great time and they can also feel good knowing that what they're doing is not having a negative impact.


Humanitix
Humanitix

Humanitix is the world’s first humane ticketing platform that donates 100% of profits from booking fees to children’s charities. Backed by Google.org and the Atlassian Foundation, Humanitix is converting the USD $3.7bn in annual global booking fees into social impact projects that give disadvantaged kids greater access to education, healthcare and a fair go in life.

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