As we all look forward to warmer summer months, many of us are already in planning mode for upcoming outdoor events and festivals. Let’s take a quick look at some of the ways you can set up and encourage proper recycling and waste reduction at outdoor events!


Key Benefits

Some of the benefits of having a successful recycling campaign at your summer event include:

  • Instilling positive change in attendees (people feel good when they’re helping ‘do’ good! Let attendees know what a difference they are making, and send any important recycling/waste info out to registrants in advance of the event)
  • Increasing environmental awareness (educate your staff, on-site maintenance workers, & attendees about recycling and the benefits of keeping reusable materials out of the landfill)
  • Reducing materials sent to the landfill (plan for & execute ‘green’, eco-friendly events!)

Use this as your platform to help educate those attending your event on the importance of sustainability.


Small Initiatives Make a Big Difference

Sustainability efforts at large events is not a new trend. Some larger events like Coachella started making a change back in 2017. This music festival in Los Angeles obviously creates a lot of waste – including food and alcohol consumption, and transportation like flights and driving. Coachella took their Carbon footprint into account for their 2017 festival, and created a sustainability program to education attendees. There were many components to this program including:

  • Carpooling
  • Recycling art contest (winner had their designs featured on recycling containers)
  • Eco Friendly signage
  • Energy Playground (produced energy to charge cell phones)


Keep It Simple!

A lot of these have become the norm with larger events, but they can be relatively simple to implement on a smaller scale at your event too! Adding sustainability to your event doesn’t have to be difficult. There are several small things you can do that can make a huge impact on the environment.

The main culprit of waste generation at events are food services. One trend that we have seen throughout the planning of many large, and small, events is the emphasis on reducing single-use items and pre-packaged foods. If you have an opportunity to start collecting organics, that’s great! Use things like compostable plates instead of Styrofoam. Ensure your volunteers are well educated in your collection processes and have them in place at your recycling and waste stations will help increase participation levels. Signage is critical in the communication of which items go into which bins – be sure to use clear visuals including icons or words that directly reference the materials at your event. It’s also beneficial to include signage for your recycling and waste collection stations up high so that everyone at the event knows where these stations are located. The easier and simpler recycling is for your attendees, the more participation you are going to get! Place your recycling and compost collection bins where your waste bins are, clearly identifying them by colour and signage.

Here’s an idea: Ask your vendors to collect waste and recycling at their location and ask that they take their waste with them when they leave – but offer recycling free of charge!


Have other ideas, or heard of new innovative initiatives to reduce or eliminate waste at special events? Drop them in the comments below!