Event greening is the process of incorporating social, environmental, responsible decision making into the organizing, implementation and participation of an event. It needs to make financial sense.
The City of Cape Town is working on a booklet, called the Smart Events Handbook, to be launched in time for the World Cup. Here are a couple of tips from a preliminary workshop conducted by Grace Stead.
1) Greening practices to implement
- Eco Procurement:
Start off the process by buying materials, products and services that are not harmful to the environment. Think durable, re-usable, local and not harmful goods with high environmental performance and reduced wastage. Reduce transport costs and carbon footprint by supporting the local economy and local products, which benefit the local economy and help poverty alleviation and employment, for example conference bags made by a local township project.
In terms of food you want local, seasonal, ethically grown, organic foods, as well as fair trade certifications, which mean that the workers also get benefits of increased sales. Ensure that goods are in fact in line with these ethical principles by looking at certification and questioning the products. All the different certifications will be listed in the Handbook, but some examples are on the Greenstay SA site, or look for Energy Star signs.
Remember also that the portion of carbon contributing towards global warming due to transport is 11%, whilst that from meat production is 18%.
The production of one pizza in Cape Town took 80 000 km in transport carbon alone!
- Waste Management:
Waste minimization- purchasing or procuring alternative co-friendly choices available that are, local and compostable and don’t leech or cause harmful effects to humans and animals and environment.
This reduces, re-use, and then recycle – always in this order of environmentally friendly practices. To reduce wastage you can purchase products in bulk, avoid disposable containers – use glasses that are washed rather than polystyrene cups.
Make sure left-over foods are put to good use, redistributed by a Feedback or used for animal feed or composting. To re-use you look for returnable containers. Use sugar bowls instead of sugar sachets. Ensure banners are re-used. Make sure nametags are returned and used again. Organize recycling at the source. Ensure there’s a battery of well marked waste bins for the various types of waste to be recycled in one clearly marked recycling station and arrange collection with a firm like Waste Plan.
- Energy conservation:
It is now possible to get biodiesel for all generators – get details from the Event Greening Forum’s supplier database. If you can’t use renewable energy sources you could purchase renewable energy certificates.
These are provided by Eskom, who then supply energy from renewable sources with your certificates. Go to Agama energy for this. Feed-in tariffs have now been approved by the City, so you can purchase renewable energy from the City.
Organize lift sharing, cycling and public transport as part of your events planning.
Do you have an energy efficiency plan in place? Insist on using only 50% lighting – ask them to switch off at least half of the lights.
- Water conservation:
Less than 3% of all water on the planet is fresh and less than 1% is drinkable. It takes 10 liters of water to manufacture one sheet of paper and 250 liters of water to make one quart of beer! Don’t use products that use a lot of water to produce. 26 liters of water to produce one bottle of water.
2) Implementation process:
- Start early
There are several steps an event organizer must do in order to make their event green. First, it is critical that the event organizers start early and prepare or establish criteria to look for in their green products. Secondly, they must create a strategy and action plan to implement criteria that they selected initially. There must be clear guidelines for supplier s and sub-contractors as to what the event organizers are looking for.
- Communicate your green message
Another key aspect to greening your event is to communicate the green message or showcase all the products that have an ecological value. Give guidance to visitors through displays of green initiatives and products that are offered during the event.
Greening your event should showcase innovative designs such as re-used, recycled banners, plants and green colors on exhibits. Innovative pamphlets and brochures should promote your products and services. Digital media (email, website, memory stick) should carry the message home to participants. Delegate packs create a lot of waste and there are often many unwanted items inside. It is best to have locally manufactured conference materials.
Importantly the event should market itself as being green. The organizers should get guidance on venue selection. You could send out questionnaire to each venue to see what green initiatives and products they offer. The venues may already offer food and beverages that are local, organic, and seasonal. They may offer sustainable transport such as car pools, cycling etc.
- Green resources and database
Finally an event organizer should have resources available for green producers and suppliers, eg. a glossary, website, smart events handbook, event greening supplier database.
The Smart Events Handbook will be available from the City of Cape Town, Environmental Resource Management Department from July 2010 and enquiries can be sent to email@example.com.