Event Planning: Making Your Festival More Sustainable

What do you need to do to make your event or festival more sustainable? More and more event planners want to implement sustainable policies and make their event greener but don’t know where to start. In my eBook Event Management: Your Environmental Plan I discuss what an event planner can do to make their festival more sustainable. 

Sustainable Development

Waste at festivals

Waste at festivals

This week A Greener Festival relaunched their Award Scheme. A Greener Festival is trying to make the festival industry more sustainable. But what is sustainable development actually? The Brundtland Committee (1987) defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

In their report ‘Our Common Future’, the Committee focused on areas such as population, food, security, loss of species and genetic resources, energy, industry, and human settlement and is therefore the most generic sustainable development policy to date. But how does it work for event planners?

Event planners go green

The International Standards Organization (ISO) produced ISO14001, which is a series of environmental management systems. These management systems can be used to set goals and priorities for your organization. ISO14001 requires you to review your policies on a regular basis.

Okay, so that is sustainable development but how does that fit in with sustainable event management? The answer is very straightforward. Look at the areas Brundtland, and also the ISO standards, have focused on and translate that back to the impact your event or festival might have on the environment and local community.

  • Do you know how much energy you are using at your event?
  • Do you know how much water you use at your festival?
  • Do you know where the food served at your festivals comes from?

As you can see sustainable event management is more than just recycling.

After ISO came BS8901 Sustainable Event Management which was developed with the London 2012 Olympic Games in mind. BS8901 eventually became ISO20121 which is “a management system standard that has been designed to help organizations in the events industry improve the sustainability of their event related activities, products, and services” (www.ISO20121.org).

ISO20121 basically gives you an overview of what you need to think of when you are an event organization and you want to make sure you:

Waste collection points at festivals

Waste collection points at festivals

  • continue to be financially successful
  • become more socially responsible
  • reduce your environmental footprint

Sustainable Event Management

What is sustainable event management and what should you focus on when you consider implementing it in your organization? I started with explaining what sustainable development is as it is fundamental to the concept of sustainable event management. The three pillars that support sustainable development are the same for sustainable event management:

  • Economic
  • Social
  • Environmental

In a way you should add ethics as a fourth pillar. Ethics is your moral philosophy in which you define what is right and what is wrong. I guess that should run through your organization from top to bottom and manifest itself throughout your decision and management processes.

Sustainable event management is a management process in which you place sustainability at the top of your priority list when you plan, manage, and produce your event. In this management process you make sure you, and your event, are sustainable on all 4 fronts: economic, social, environmental, and ethical.

Lightning in a Bottle festival

The Do Lab organizes Lightning in a Bottle festival in California, USA. This organization has implemented sustainable event management throughout its organization. This makes The Do Lab’s management as important in the implementation process as the volunteers helping out at the festival site.

According to Dede Flemming, co-founder of The Do Lab, “it starts with having an idea and a vision of how you see your festival. You need to think about how you want to develop your vision and how you want your festival to be perceived. In order to implement your vision you need to create a process for it”. 

For more information on sustainable event management visit www.eventtutor.com or sign up for the online workshop on how to create an environmental plan for your event.