Protecting the Environment

Whether you’re planning an indoor or an outdoor arts or cultural event, there will be impacts on the environment. You should consider environmental sustainability in energy, water and waste at planning, delivery and post event stages. It’s not as hard as you might think!

Including environmental sustainability early on in your planning and you can make sure that your great event idea does not need to be compromised due to environmental concerns. You can also minimise the costs of enhancing the environmental performance of your event.

Set Up A Green Team For Your Event

There are lots of ways to minimise environmental impacts. With the abundance of events, activities and celebrations planned each year, this is an ideal opportunity to develop better practice in delivering events. Why not give people who are part of your event organising team responsibilities for implementing environmentally friendly solutions?

Some basic considerations can make a big difference to the environmental impact of your event:
If you are using suppliers, think about their environmental credentials when you are booking accommodation, transport or catering.
Create a Green Rider (i.e. a document outlining your sustainability asks for your event, which will sit alongside technical and hospitality riders – see Julie’s bicycle below) and use it to ask who is hosting your event about environmentally friendly options available, such as the availability of recycling bins, the provision of filtered tap water to help minimise reliance on bottled mineral water, the provision of cycling facilities and public transport stops nearby.
Where possible, choose a location close to your intended audience to minimise the impact of travel.
Keep paper based marketing and publicity such as programmes, leaflets and posters to a minimum prior to the event by taking advantage of social media (see our Publicity section for further information).
If you are producing printed marketing materials, use post-consumer and/or FSC paper products when printing and vegetable based inks, which have a lower environmental impact.  Be sure to mention these environmental credentials on the print material itself.
Communicate sustainable travel options to the event to your audience via ticketing, social media sites and any marketing materials you produce. If you are charging an entry fee for your event, consider offering a discount or other offer to people who travel to it by bike.
Share the (estimated) environmental impacts, ambitions and green values of your event with audiences when you promote the event.
Think about how your event can play a role in encouraging sustainable lifestyle choices to audiences, for example through working with local organisations like Cambridge Carbon Footprint and Transition Cambridge to promote energy efficiency, recycling, make do and mend and growing your own vegetables.

Further Steps

For larger scale events consider creating a policy that sets out your green action plan and your expectations of people you contract or work with. Your policy should identify what impacts will be addressed, how they will be tackled, who is responsible and how you will measure and communicate the success of the steps taken to minimise its effects. With your team, you could also consider:

Choose a greener or renewable energy supply for your venue.
Measure the environmental impacts of your venue using free carbon calculators to show your carbon footprint (IG tools)
Reduce your power demand by switching off lights and equipment when not in use. Install energy efficient lighting and manage heating, cooling, ventilation and insulation.
Reduce waste by encouraging recycling, composting food waste and avoiding use of plastic cutlery, plates and glasses.
Do an impact cost analysis by finding out the environmental damage cost of your activities and also how much your environmental initiatives are saving!
Consume sustainable food and drink and buy locally sourced, organic or fair-trade food with minimum or recyclable packaging where possible.

More Useful Information

Julie’s Bicycle is a non-profit company working across the arts and creative industries, providing excellent free tools, resources and practical advice. The Julie’s Bicycle website has guidelines to help you develop your own environmental policy and create a plan for implementation and evaluation, as well as further information on all the issues mentioned here. You need to register to download the guidelines, but it’s free.

The Outdoor Arts organisation, ISAN has produced a free Environmental Sustainability Toolkit which is designed to address the environmental impacts of the outdoor arts sector and to develop sustainable practice. Throughout the Toolkit there are case studies to reassure and inspire readers, and to learn through the experience of others.

For a useful checklist on how to hold a greener event on a tight budget please see the Greener Event Guide produced by Our Southwest;

Idea: Read about the festival case studies on the Julie’s Bicycle website

Click here to go to the next section ‘Who to Involve’

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