Written by janine

This article serves to generally explore all the many ideas we had while planning a low waste festival, but which we could not turn into reality. Most of them serve to educate festivalgoers in a fun, innovative and “out of the box” way about waste topics and about protecting our environment.

1. Some Facts and Figures

We did learn how important it is to teach sustainability, to communicate it well (see article about communication) and how important festivals like ours can be to trigger behavioral change overall (see article about impact measurement). Even though, educational actions do seem less important when starting to plan a zero waste festival, they can skyrocket, if well done, to double or triple your positive impact. The FoW Community had lots of ideas about that. We would be happy if they will not be forgotten, so in the following we will share the most important ones with you.

2. Our Ideas

2.1. Program on Tote Bags

Instead of constructing signage you can give away some reusable bags with the program printed on them. Another idea that serves as an icebreaker is to not to print the entire program on one bag, so only together they will complement it. Thus if the festivalgoers want to know the program, they would have to find someone else with the complementing bag. This way you encourage them to mingle and to start a conversation with a stranger. Maybe this is how the next solution to make the world a better place will be born. However, the big disadvantage is that spontaneous changes of the program cannot be taken into account. So either you manage to produce or at least print the bags the day before, or you accept the fact that this might happen.

2.2. Treasure Hunt

Already during the very first meeting of the low waste task force, we had the idea of doing a treasure hunt throughout the whole day. The treasure hunt could have led through the process and different aspects of organizing a low waste event. It can point out questions such as water or energy consumption or the different actions and tools to avoid waste. Afterwards, if the hunters found all the treasures they can be rewarded with a beer or anything else that is part of the festival environment and gives incentives to start engaging in the treasure hunt overall.

2.3. Art with Trash

What to do with the bit of waste that you could not avoid? Before it ends up in the trash you could, if necessary clean it, and afterwards encourage festivalgoers to build something out of it. Let their creativity guide them. Playing with the waste will first and foremost create a group dynamic, hopefully a fun and interesting one. It can also trigger discussions, but most important it makes the waste visible. One of the biggest problems with waste streams and waste management is that it is not visible enough to realize the huge impact it has. Waste is ugly, it smells and it is not useful anymore so it is hidden from the eyes of our society. Make it visible and you’ll make it count!

2.4. Information Stand

An informative stand or workshop about zero waste is a must-have during your festival. Festivalgoers who are interested in the topic or just got interested, to make a change in their behavior can be directly taken on board. In addition to that, consider offering zero waste toolkits as a good occasion to start to embark on this journey (Zero Waste France or any other country where Zero Waste is active does have not so expansive starter kits).

2.5. Ecocoin or alternative currencies

Imagine a world that rewards every sustainable action. This could be in monetary terms but not only and maybe best not to. One might actually be tempted to spend the money for something less sustainable if it works in exchange for fiat money. But imagine it could be rewarded with a service, with food or anything else than fiat money. This is what we call the concept of complementary currencies.

Eco Coin follows this innovation. They tested the Eco Coin at the festival DGTL in Amsterdam this year. “if you can make money from cutting down a tree why can’t you get money planting one?”. Imagine this for your specific case: getting a reward for coming by bike to the festival or putting your cigarette but in the ashtray and receiving points for that. For instance, at the DGTL festival you could earn the reward of free music downloads for 2 ECOs or for 14 ECOs you could enjoy a meal for free.

We do think that this is a great way to encourage green and environmental friendly behavior. However, be aware that setting up the Eco Coin system does require a cooperation with the organization, an app and most likely a budget. Nevertheless it does not have to be as professional. If you only have a restricted budget you could even invent your own currency and improvise a bit.

3. Our Lessons Learned

Our first lesson learned, is that so many ideas could not have been put in place due to the time limitation and sometimes also due to budget restriction. Nevertheless we are sure that this would bring so much added value to the festival, so every coin spend for this is worth it.

Our second lesson learned, is that it can be disappointing for some of the volunteers if none of their ideas will be realized in the end of the day. We had enough to do and it was already quite innovative what we have done.

Our third lesson learned is about the lack of communication and actions to educate the festivalgoers. Naturally, you would put many efforts into turning the festival low waste and this results in a great positive impact. But imagine how much bigger the impact could be when you manage to communicate well what you have done. This could even trigger some positive change in others or raise their motivation level to change habits the very next day. We certainly missed out here and this might be one of the biggest and most important lessons we have learned.

The last lesson learned is that we have not been brave enough to stand up for the low waste part. Our festival had 4 topics: “eating healthier, access to technology for everyone, refugees welcome and climate change”. Despite of the fact that we loved these topics, low waste was not a central part of the festival. So our team didn’t dare to ask if a workshop about zero waste could be part of the program. Be braver than we have been and you will multiply the level of impact.

4. In a Nutshell

About the author:

Hello all! I am Janine and a community developer for Future of Waste. I am absolutely passionate about waste and I am living a Zero Waste Lifestyle. Now I started jumping into the adventure of a large scale Zero Waste project. I want to help to brush up the image we have about waste – it is a resource and not trash, so let’s be creative!

#zerowasty #mindfuladventurer #wasteissexy

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Credits for the home photo: Photo by Pixabay on Pexel