[note]This post was written for AGF by Steve Wright from Whirlwind Steel.[/note]
The Importance of Green Festivals and Things Event Planners Need to Consider When Planning Green Festivals
Successful arts festivals have the potential to create new ambassadors for culture and spur economic growth and development in the cities and counties that host them. They also serve as a model for the sorts of eco-friendly activities that promote sustainable long-term development. In the spirit of leading by example, festival planners and sponsors must take common sense steps to reduce the environmental impact of their gatherings.
Making a Difference: The Benefits of Greener Arts Festivals
Green arts festivals have some clear benefits. An individual festival that lasts for several days and processes thousands of attendees can effectively reduce each attendee’s carbon footprint for its entire duration. Such events provide realistic resource-conserving options for guests who might otherwise be driving around their hometowns or using inefficient, outdated home appliances. Well-planned green arts festivals can temporarily reduce per-capita carbon emissions, tamp down water usage and encourage the consumption of organic or low-impact food and drink. More importantly, they can reduce long-term environmental harm by spurring attendees to make lasting lifestyle changes that incorporate eco-friendly choices into their everyday activities.
Reduce Event-Associated Car Trips
Large-scale festivals that attract visitors from all over the world necessarily have large “travel footprints.” Encourage festival attendees to carpool or use communal forms of long-distance transportation to help reduce motor vehicle emissions. It’s also important to arrange for shuttle transportation between lodging areas and event venues. If possible, such shuttles should use electric power or biofuels. Finally, consider purchasing carbon credits or using other offsetting measures to reduce the impact of carbon-intensive to-and-from travel.
Steel Buildings as Venue Alternatives
Festival promoters know that steel buildings are superior to flimsy, chemical-laden vinyl tents or unattractive wood structures that leach harmful toxins into local water supplies. Accordingly, use steel structures to house key exhibits or performance spaces. Steel buildings are recyclable. They don’t wind up in landfills and won’t demand days of carbon-intensive cleanup. And they can easily be disassembled and transported to festivals in other towns. However, it’s important to note that steel manufacturing has a large environmental impact. This includes large CO2 emissions as well as the consumption of large quantities of water for cooling and pollution control during the production process.
Eschew Bottled Water and Non-Reusable Catering Materials
While bottled water is undeniably convenient, the process of producing and transporting it uses lots of unnecessary resources. It’s also tough to force attendees to recycle all of the plastic bottles that they use over the course of a several-day festival. Avoid this problem entirely by providing large water dispensers with biodegradable drinking vessels. Fill your dispensers with local tap water.
The fertilizers and pesticides with which corporate farming operations routinely douse their crops are notorious for their negative environmental impacts. While it might be slightly more expensive to craft an all-organic menu for your festival guests, your efforts are sure to be a boon for the organic farmers and distributors from which you source your produce. If it’s practical to do so, you can further reduce your menu’s environmental impact with meat-free dishes and locally sourced ingredients.
Bring in Like-Minded Sponsors
At this point, thousands of big-name American businesses have adopted eco-friendly business models and taken concrete steps to reduce the environmental impacts of their activities. As you search for event sponsors and catering partners, narrow your list of suitors by eliminating companies that take an agnostic or antagonistic position on environmental matters. For your event’s libations, look for breweries or wineries that use water-saving production techniques or derive significant amounts of their energy from renewable sources. For financial sponsors and non-catering partners, choose companies that offset their carbon emissions, work out of LEED-certified buildings and use energy-efficient production and distribution technologies.
Putting on any type of arts festival can be a logistical and emotional challenge. Executing a festival that adheres to time-honored green principles and has a minimal environmental impact is doubly difficult. Fortunately, growing environmental awareness among consumers and the rapid adoption of eco-friendly production techniques among American businesses makes this task easier with each passing year. With a little advance planning, you’re sure to pull off an event in which your environmentally-conscious attendees can take pride.
Steve Wright works for Whirlwind Steel. They manufacture pre-engineered metal building and steel building components. Whirlwind Steel residential metal buildings are manufactured to the residents’ specifications and are designed to meet the highest quality standards. See: www.whirlwindsteel.com