On my way to a music festival

Creating an environmental plan for your event is easier said than done. How you set up your environmental plan is up to you. This might sound a bit vague but it really depends on you, your organization, and the commitment that you want to make. But what should go into an environmental plan?

You might decide that for now you only want to focus on 1 or 2 main aspects of your organization. After all you are a newbie to greening your event. Let’s say you want to focus on travel and water usage. That’s fine. Allow yourself time to develop as a sustainable organization. Eventually you want to include more initiatives. If you want more information about the different initiatives you can read my eBook Event Management: Your Environmental Plan.

Content page of your environmental plan

I have placed the initiatives I think you should consider, whether now or for the future, in a template content table for you.

The following items can be expected in an environmental plan of an event or festival organization:

Car parks at events and festivals

Car parks at events and festivals

  • Event transport & travel
  • Gathering data
  • Vendor & contractor policies
  • Waste management
  • Water usage
  • Noise or music
  • Event location

In this blog I will discuss the first item: event transport & travel. I will discuss the other items in my next blogs.

Event Transport & Travel

Every event or festival should have a transport and travel plan. In your plan you indicate the different modes of travel and transport to, from, and on your event site. Once you know how your visitors are travelling to your event you can link your transport plan to your environmental plan.

When you choose the location for your event you need to conduct a site survey. In your site survey you look at obstacles, potential problems or issues, and the layout of your site. With that in mind you also need to look at how people actually come to your event. If your site is near a train station, metro station or a bus station you might want to consider promoting public transport.

Make sure you discuss your plans with the affected public transport providers so they can prepare for your event as well. More importantly they can advice you what to do and what you should have in place in order for your plan to work.

Public Transport

If you want your audience to use public transport you need to convey this message to your audience. Make sure that before you start promoting your event you have thought through your transport plan. You don’t want to promote public transport to 5,000 people if there is only 1 bus per hour that stops at your event site. Speak to public transport providers and speak to your local authorities. Figuring out the logistics can be a nightmare so please think your transport plan through and expect the unexpected. Do not assume anything!


When you expect most people to arrive at your site by car you need to make sure you have adequate parking spaces. That seems obvious but I’ve been to festivals where finding a parking space is a complete nightmare. I’ve also been to festivals where they crammed too many cars into a small space and then, come the time that everyone wants to leave, chaos begins; cars that can’t move as they’re waiting for other cars to move first. Well, you get the idea.

When you expect most people to arrive by car you need to figure out how many cars you think will show up. If you are considering implementing an environmental plan for your next event then count the cars in your car park this year. Based on that number you can set yourself a goal to minimize the number of cars for your next event.

Incentivize your fans

You can incentivize people to use car sharing or carpooling. There are websites (like rickyrides.com, ridejoy.com, and carpooling.com) that bring people together who want to share their car journeys. The incentive is that when you turn up in your car with 4 people you do not have to pay the parking fee or you receive a nice discount. Someone that turns up in a car with only 1 passenger will have to pay more. You can charge parking fees as well to deter your audience from coming to the site by car. This only works if you have a well thought through alternative in place: public transport or organized buses.

Golf carts & buggies

At large (outdoor) festivals staff travel around in onsite vehicles, from golf carts to off-road buggies and anything in between. Please do ask yourself how many of these vehicles you actually need on site. What kind of fuel are they using and how much fuel are they using?

I have worked at festivals where some of the onsite vehicles were not used at all. They just stood there for 2 days straight. If you don’t use them, you need to look at your planning and your procurement and order less.

The questions you need to ask yourself

For your environmental plan it is all about measuring and collecting data. Make sure you collect this data at your event or festival:

Arrive in style at an event

Arrive in style at an event

  • How many cars do you expect?
  • How many cars did eventually turn up?
  • What was the occupancy rate per car?
  • How many people used car-sharing programs?
  • How much fuel did onsite vehicles use?
  • Where do attendees travel from to come your event?

CO2 emissions

So once you know how people arrive on site you can start measuring and calculating how much carbon emissions your travel and transport is producing. There are several online tools out there. I would suggest to really search online and see which websites are out there and which one you find most useful.

I think this is where some of the confusion comes in. Different websites use different calculation methods. Which one is the best depends on your event. Indoor events have a different footprint than outdoor events. My advice is to choose one measurement tool and stick to it. That way you can measure your event over time and you can detect differences.

You can check the website of Julie's Bicycle for more information about carbon footprint calculators for events and festivals.

For more information visit my website The Event Tutor. You can also subscribe to my online course in Sustainable Event Management.