This weekend, I’ll be at the wonderful Cardiff Comic Expo, whilst others head to the less modest London Super Comic Con. So it seemed a good time to blog some ideas on how to make events more sustainable.
The first cry from the crowd will undoubtedly be: “the most sustainable event is one you don’t have”. Fair enough but I think there is something magical about bringing people together under one roof to talk about their shared interests and passions and you just can’t beat the access that fans get to creators at a con.
That said, here are a few of the things that con organisers can think about that can make a real difference:
Venue: Pick a venue that has good public transport links, if you can. If you’re in a small town which is not well served by trains and buses, think about offering a minibus service from the nearest station to your venue. Tell VIPs and visitors about the options that are available to them so they can make an informed choice. Also ask some questions of your venue: what materials do they recycle? What happens to their general waste? Do they source food that is local, organic and / or seasonal? What steps do they take to reduce their environmental impacts? Most venues will be doing one or two things, and would relish the challenge of doing more – it’s good business sense for them if their customers are demanding it.
Communications and delegate stuff: Most pre-con communication will be electronic, but there’s often still a need for delegates to print off pieces of paper with their booking details on. Do they really need to? If so, can you use that piece of paper for anything else which will be useful on the day (a map to the venue? vouchers for discounts? details of the conference panels?)? It sounds picky to worry about one piece of paper, but when you have thousands of visitors, that’s a big pile of recycling that maybe you didn’t need to make. Think about things like wristbands, programmes, delegate bags. Of course you want to give people information to help them through the day, but do they need it all? Can you or they re-use any of it? Can printed materials be made smaller? Can bags be made from recycled fabric?
Exhibitors: It’s helpful to give exhibitors some advice on what you expect from them. At a major green exhibition at the Excel Centre, a height limit was put on stands (why do you need a 20 ft high stand anyway?), and all exhibitors were told they had to recycle or take their own rubbish away, or be penalised. It doesn’t need to be draconian, but something to say “please be conscious of your use of resources, bring what you need, take away what you don’t sell” or simply, in the Glastonbury phrase “leave no trace“.
For those who really want to delve into this, there is a British Standard – BS8901 – for Sustainable Event Management. In my day job, we work with a sustainable events checklist which is probably a bit more user friendly than the BS8901 document: get in touch if you’d like a copy. Likewise, if you’re organising a con and want to talk about some of these issues, email firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on Twitter: @EcoBLAM.
My question to you: what would you do to make a comic con more sustainable? Answers in a suitable comments box below….