Hamilton How To Organize A Green Festival

A "Green" festival or event is organized to minimize its negative impact of the environment. These incorporate reduction of waste, water & energy, using local suppliers and locally-sourced products, providing education about environmental impacts, and offering fair trade or organic food for guests.

Here are some specific suggestions:

  1. Collecting name badge holders for re-use at an event of 1300 attendees can save approximately $975 for the event organizer (Source: www.conventionindustry.org).
  2. Use biodegradable cups & plates instead of styrofoam or plastic. This can reduce landfill by nearly one tonne for a 200 person event.
  3. Announce accessible & free City water to refill reusable water-bottles instead of selling single-use plastic water bottles
  4. Encourage bring-your-own picnic ware & cutlery, and re-usable shopping bags

Pre-Planning Checklist


  • How many people will be participating?
  • What are attendee expectations?
  • What are the food requirements for each person?
  • What are the environmental impact of each person?

Location and Modes of Transport

  • Where will the participants & attendees come from?
  • Is venue selected to be the most convenient location for all?
  • Does the venue have accessible public transportation?
  • To what degree can public transportation replace private transportation like cars?
  • Are the any incentives offered to participants to use public transportation?

Sourcing of Materials

  • Are paper flyers & brochures necessary? Are supplies being reduced where possible?
  • Can biodegradable or re-usable items be considered instead of plastic or other non-renewables?
  • Can solar or other alternative power sources be used?
  • Can various suppliers and materials be locally sourced?
  • Is food locallly-sourced? Organic? Are healthy options offered?
  • Is educational information on the impact of the environment available and readily displayed?
  • What recycling is available?

Accommodation and Venue

  • Is participant accommodation convenient for public transportation (including airport, bus/rail station)?
  • Do other location offer a lower impact on the environment?
  • Does the venue offer recycling and renewable energy sources?
  • Does the local municipality help to reduce waste or collect garbage regularly?

Green Event Organization Checklist


Transportation can have the highest carbon footprint for an event, especially when particapnts come from out of town.
  • Air travel has the highest carbon footprint and alternatives should be considered
  • Rail and coach travel are less intensive, and event proximity to the terminals will reduces the need for taxis & shuttles
  • Use electric or bio-diesel powered vehicles, and try to reduce the use of on-site vehicles
  • Consider using shuttle buses powered by green energy to get participants to the evnt venue
  • Encourage car pooling for local participants
  • Reduce commuting by choosing a venue optimally convenient to most local participants
  • Encourage public transit by providing vuenue maps with bus & subway routes
  • Encourage human-powered transportation like walking or cycling. Provide supervised/secure bicycle parking
  • If your event is large, negotiate event transit access with the local public transportation provider, or at least ensure regular service during event hours

A recent Vancouver festival arranged to book the city's tennis courts to be used as valet bicycle parking to alleviate the need for auto and transit in an already dense urban residential area. Another festival provided a Park& Ride program for staff & volutnteers.


The accommodation sector is rapidly greening their facilities, and event organizers should assess the venue’s environmental practices prior to booking.
  • Festival or event shuld provide convenient access & accommodation for locals and visitors
  • Choose a central location, within walking distance of local points of interest
  • Choose a venue with an explicit environmental policy and green strategy
  • Meet with a senior manager and discuss your needs before you make the selection
  • Encourage the adoption of good practices, if not already offered
  • For outdoor events, consider municipal waste and energy reduction policies
  • Consider ways of reducing peripheral noice impacts, and ways of reducing them

Food, Beverage and Catering Services

The venue’s catering manager shoul discuss ways that their food services can effectively support a green event.

  • Provide food & condiments in bulk (bottles, boxes, crates) rather than individual serving sizes
  • Avoid use of Styrofoam or individual packaging
  • Provide recycling and litter containers close to food providers
  • Avoid bottled water where possible, by providing access to fountains and tap water
  • Suppliers should use eco-friendly cleaning products
  • Provide suggestions on reducing water consumption
  • Ask suppliers to use renewable energy sources instead of diesel generators, where possible
  • Use cloth rather than disposable wipes if applicable
  • Use biodegradable cups instead of recyclable plastic
  • Purchase enviornmentally preferrable products such as fair trade coffee, organic and locally-grown foods
  • Offer seasonal and locally-grown fruit and vegetables
  • Use domestic liquor & beverage brands if possible
  • Consider food service style to reduce amount of waste: buffet or sit-down
  • Provide information on sourcing all food and beverages, especially if fair trade or local
  • Donate any leftover food to a charity
  • Compost all used food, and ensure the compost bins are visible to event participants

An Ottawa festival innovated with compostable beer cups, and used 300,000 cups in a ten day event, which were separated & composted instead of adding to landfill.


  • Use both sides of paper where possible. Use back of page for environmental education, or as scrap note paper
  • Use electronic or online registration to largest extent possible
  • Recyclable or re-use participant name tags (including for volunteers and staff)
  • Promote eco-friendly awareness

Venue Equipment and Furniture

Reduce your environmental footprint in event organizer's head office and at event facility headquarters

  • Use double-sided photocopiers & printers to maximum extent
  • Provide wireless internet on-site for participants
  • E-mail presentations and marekting materials instead of mailing paper brochures & flyers
  • Use recycled paper wherever possible
  • Only offer fair trade, organic and locally-sourced food stuff
  • Use renewable energy generators rather than diesel/electric generators
  • Provide recycling & composting bins to staff and volunteers
  • Post your environmental policy for all to see
  • Ensure minimal land & wildlife disruption, by working with local environmental and wildlife charities & organizations

Exhibits, Presentations and Event Materials

  • Provide venue summaries or other materials electronically, wherever possible
  • Support electronic presentation formats and e-delivery of sponsor brochures and marketing materials, instead of on-site handouts
  • Print double-sided on non-bleached, non-de-inked paper
  • Use reusable tokens rather than disposable paper tickets for rides, drinks, services
  • Make recycling and waste reduction announcements in festival introductions & wrap-ups
  • Reuse envelopes and paper wherever possible
  • If bags or other gifts are being distributed, use biodegradable, recyclable and ethically-sourced goods.

Energy and Water

  • Promote energy and water efficiency to participants
  • Buy green power for the event, where locally available
  • Cionsider carbon offsets to make the event or festival carbon neutral, but identify how the offset projects are verified & are explained in your environmental statement, to avoid the dreaded “green wash” label

Waste Reuse, Recycle and Reduction

  • Promote environmental awareness to venue participants by informing them about waste reduction & recycling programs offered
  • Minimize paper use and maximize re-use of any paper handouts
  • Separate waste at the source for future recycling. Provide visible separate bins for paper, bottles, food waste
  • Provide recycling bins in all areas and clearly marked
  • Layout distribution handouts to minimize the amount of paper used
  • Prioritize purchasing of recyclable & post-consumer recycled products
  • Avoid paper waste by pre-estimating number of participants attending

Staff & Volunteers

  • Provide a briefing and any specialized training to organizers or staff to communicate and implement environmental objectives
  • Address all aspects of routine operations in the environmental management program
  • Implement accountability in the environmental decision-making at all levels
  • Communicate the environmental commitment to all employees, contractors and suppliers

Please let us know about any other suggestions for running a Green Festival, using the Feedback Form at the top of this page. We would be pleased to mention your success stories and include your festival photos.

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