Discourage use of private car transport. Cars are the main source of pollution caused by transport – they account for over 60 percent of all CO2 emitted by road transport in Europe. With events addressed to the local community, this form of transportation should be discouraged. Instead, encourage your audience to come on foot or by bike – this is zero-emission locomotion. It is also a good idea to use public transport (bus, tram, railway), which is characterised by low-emissions per passenger. The information accompanying your event should include a clear message stating which means of transportation is suitable to reach the venue, which cycle path will take participants there. Make sure there are bike stands close to your building. Consider introducing incentives for people using public transport or bicycles, e.g. a discount or special prerogatives.
> Read a guide on how to reduce environmental impact associated with the travel of the cultural events audience. Audience Travel, source: Julie’s Bicycle (text in English)
> Glastonbury Festival introduced vouchers for anyone coming to the festival on public transport or by bike. The voucher makes it possible to receive discount on meals, access to solar showers and other benefits. Read more: Green Traveller, source: Glastonbury Festivals (text in English)
Choose public transport, minimise flights. When we talk about bringing guests from various parts of the country and the world, there is no universal response as to what type of transport should be used. Essentially, if you do not have to travel anywhere in particular, organise an online meeting and on shorter distances choose a train or a bus, rather than a plane. With long-haul flights, in order to minimise the negative environmental impact, choose direct flights, as a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions is associated with take-off and landing. It is also possible to purchase carbon offsets offered by most airlines; this way you can support planting of trees in a forest or park, which will absorb carbon dioxide and ‘cancel out’ negative footprint.
Make sure there is a full set of passengers in cars. If you are organising an off-site event, e.g. a large festival, a good way to reduce individual car transport is to start carpooling, which involves allocating passengers commuting on the same route to one car. Suggest a similar solution to the participants of your event; if they live in one place and some of them have cars, it is worth taking care of a full set of passengers in one vehicle to minimise the negative impact of the trip.
Apply these rules to yourself. Point out the above transport rules to the organisers of events to which you and your colleagues are invited. If, as an invited guest speaker, you have the opportunity to reach your destination by train rather than by plane, suggest this to the organisers, if they do not suggest it themselves.
Local deliveries. Transport of people is not the only kind of transport when organising an event. It is often necessary to deliver elements of set design, technical equipment, catering or other materials. Part of sustainable transport is planning orders in a way that does not generate unnecessary kilometers. Make sure to buy or rent nearby and use local suppliers.
Accommodate in your vicinity. When your event requires accommodation for guests, make sure that the place where they stay is not far from the venue and encourage them to use public transport. Let them know how they can get to the event site by public transport. If the hotel is really close, you can call your event ‘zero-emissions-friendly’ and encourage your guests to use bikes (public bikes are available in many cities) or go on foot. By shaping the transport behaviour of your guests, you contribute to reducing emissions.
Support eco-friendly hotels. Find out whether your preferred hotel is eco-friendly. Many accommodation places implement ecological solutions: reduce water and energy consumption, reuse rainwater, provide recycling containers, give up disposable toiletries or disposable packaging for coffee or sugar, use ecological cleaning products, use local suppliers, take care in supplying quality food and do not waste it. Give priority to hotels with environmental credentials or certifications (such as the Green Key award or EU Ecolabel).
Avoiding overproduction of items, minimising waste
Estimating needs. Every year, most of us produce waste amounting to several times our own body weight. What’s worse, most waste is still unprocessed – it piles up in landfills and contaminates the ecosystem. It is worth bearing in mind that every event generates waste. It may be possible to try and dispose of the waste in the most environmentally friendly way, but the best course of action is to pre-empt this challenge and minimise waste production. How much waste would be produced by your event and whether it would be possible to process it will depend on the decisions taken by you, for example concerning prints, materials, catering, etc. Plan consciously in order to avoid overproduction of waste.
3Rs for materials and resources. The 3Rs principle (reduce, reuse, recycle) will help you minimise waste. Remember about it not only while organising events but also in your daily practices.
Reduce: Do not buy or produce unnecessary things – there are already a lot of resources in circulation. Focus on the raw materials which you will be able to reuse or recycle. Avoid perishable products or those containing substances harmful for the environment. Instead of buying bottled water, encourage visitors to come with their own multiple-use bottles. Do not order too much catering ‘just in case’; if some food remains after the event, make sure it does not go to waste. Limit buying new equipment. Instead of buying equipment individually, buy it with another organisation or hire it from a cooperative. Exchange the resources you possess with other organisations (sharing economy). If you bring a guest from afar, let other cultural institutions know and plan together how best to use the guest’s time so that others could also take advantage of this opportunity.
Reuse: A lot of waste which currently piles up in landfills could be reused. Therefore, try not to throw away things thoughtlessly but think how you can reuse them and give them a second life. Transform old banners into promotional items, use pages printed on one side for notes or test copies, use waste as a material for artistic activity. The principle of ‘reuse’ can also be transferred onto bigger activities, such as multiple use of temporary exhibition infrastructure or set design consisting of modules which can be used again with future projects. You can also introduce this principle into your contracts with artists, obliging them to use existing resources in the first instance, rather than buying or producing new by default. Support and become engaged in exchanges and garage sales in your neighbourhood. Pass on usable things which you no longer need, so that others could make use of them.
Recycle: Sort waste so that it can undergo recycling. Recycling will retrieve raw materials from waste, which could be used to produce new products. This procedure allows you to save natural resources and significant amounts of energy which were necessary in the original production. The recovery of raw materials is facilitated by the correct sorting of garbage, which is down to you.
The 3Rs principle is sometimes extended by additional Rs. The zero waste movement also uses the terms refuse (e.g. refuse to use disposable packaging, refuse leaflets), rot (create your own composter from green waste), repair (when something breaks, do not buy new – repair equipment, clothes, etc.).
In order to make conscious purchasing decisions as far as products’ composition or recyclability is concerned, remember the meaning of eco symbols on packaging:
> Useful eco symbols