The Greening of Festivals

Oct, 24, 2017

By Larraine Roulston:

All festivals, whether large or small, create waste and consume excess amounts water and electricity. They also have an impact on the festival grounds. Most events boost the local economy but, if not managed in a sustainable manner, can be a burden on the community, both socially and environmentally. Many organizers are beginning to realize these consequences and are looking towards setting “green” goals that will minimize their negative impact. By reducing, reusing and recycling, expenses should be within budgetary limits.

To address these concerns and promote the best greening practices, Professor Rachel Dodds of Toronto’s Ryerson University, along with many of her students, studied festivals globally to create an online guide for greening. The team conducted interviews, waste audits and sustainability strategies; and helped with communication messaging. The guide was then piloted by two festivals of different sizes to determine its usefulness. Results were then taken directly to 22 festival organizers, as well as presented to more than another 100 globally, for feedback.

Professor Dodds, often a guest speaker at international events, stated, “Our results indicated that 63% of festivals across Canada do not communicate any sustainability practices, and less than 10% could be considered best practices when it comes to environmental management. As there is a discrepancy for good environmental practice, I hope my research will put forth concrete recommendations to municipalities and governments to facilitate improvements.”

Strive to entertain the zero waste generation by ensuring that festivals become more eco-friendly by considering the following factors:

– To be green, communication is key. Throughout your promotional material, avoid photographing or illustrating the familiar event images of toxic fireworks or non-recyclable balloons.

– Source all suppliers who incorporate the same environmental mindset. Educate everyone involved.

– Food and its accompanying plates, cutlery, etc., are the greatest contributors of waste at a festival. Food vendors should offer paper plates or napkins that can be composted. Where possible, include locally grown produce as well as foods that carry the fair trade, organic and humanely certified labels. Since straws are sent to landfills, they should be offered only upon request.

– Go water bottle free! Many municipalities provide water trucks or refill stations. Some festivals have eliminated over 15,000 water bottles over a two-day festival this way.

– If having to build structures, adopt green building guidelines. Check out Habitat for Humanity ReStores for supplies as well, and consider donations and reusing materials for construction.

– Encourage public transportation and provide shuttle buses. Include bike racks in parking areas.

– If visitors require event details, print pamphlets on recycled or FSC paper; and have one available to encourage the use of “smart phones” to take photos. Or try an app to reduce printing. Signage should be reusable or recyclable.

– Selling t-shirts with an environmental message is an option for awareness. Dodds’ research found that festival goers were willing to pay more to purchase ethically sourced and organic apparel that displayed environmental messaging. Suitable prizes could be offered to attendees who are spotted carrying their own reusable food containers or cloth bags.

– Place large well-marked illustrated containers side by side to gather recyclables and organics. Instruct volunteers to assist people to use them correctly.

– Select LED lighting and solar power. Be energy efficient.

– For a light-hearted touch, set out pails of water for thirsty dogs. Around the pails, tape messages, “Paws to Recycle” and Paws to Compost.”

From hosting large festivals, to school fun fairs, and everything in between, we all need to become more environmentally conscious and engage at a higher level of participation.

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Larraine writes children’s illustrated adventure books on composting and pollinating. To view, visit: www.castlecompost.com

Fredrika Syren

Fredrica Syren, the author and founder of Green-Mom.com, was born in Sweden. Her mother was a classically trained chef who introduced her to many eclectic flavors and skills at a young age. Her mom’s passion for the outdoors and gardening planted the seed for her own love of nature and healthy eating. She received a degree in journalism and has worked as a print, Internet and broadcasting journalist for many years with big businesses within Europe and the United States. After her mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer and she with pre-cancer, Fredrica changed her career to become a full time yoga teacher and activist. A longtime world traveler, foodie and career woman, she was exposed to many facets of life, but nothing inspired her more than becoming a mom. After her first-born, Fredrica began a food blog focusing on local, seasonal, organic & vegetarian dishes. Years of food blogging developed into the cookbook Yummy in My Tummy, Healthy Cooking for the Whole Family. Upon the arrival of her second child, Fredrica founded Green-Mom.com. Her vision was to establish a site providing insight about gardening, home and personal care, baby & child, and of course food & nutrition. Green-Mom.com hosts many talented writers shedding light on ways to incorporate eco-friendly and nutritious practices for busy families. She is an advocate for organic, local and sustainable businesses. Fredrica hopes to inspire social change through her lifestyle, passion and business. Fredrica lives with her husband James Harker-Syren and their three children in San Diego, CA.

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