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5 Tips to reduce and recycle waste at your event

Events tend to have a positive impact on the local economy and community. Smaller businesses might generate large proportions of their annual income during an event. However, besides the positive impact on the overall economy, events can also generate large amounts of waste. Therefore, organizers should start the planning process by creating a recycling and waste prevention plan to protect the local environment.

Here are 5 tips that can help event organizers recycle and reduce the amount of waste that is generated during an event:

1. Understand your waste

Identify the most common waste streams and prepare accordingly. A food carnival will certainly have different waste compared to a special event featuring livestock. Therefore, as an organizer, you should inform competent authorities and provide them with details about your upcoming event. They are the ones making sure that recyclables end up in the right place after the event. Examples of common types of waste are: plastic bottles; paper; cardboard; glass; food waste and general waste.

2. Educate your team and attendees

You should inform your participants on the where, what and whys of recycling. Train your volunteer staff and give them insights into effective recycling practices. Create a fun and challenging competition and reward your volunteers accordingly.

Inform your attendees about designated recycling areas in advance. You can send out newsletters and give brief instructions. Besides that, you can assign volunteers to offer assistance and assure that waste is sorted properly.

3. Vendors should use recyclable or compostable materials

It is important to assure that vendors use recyclable materials. They will be responsible for a large amount of the venue’s waste. Make it mandatory and include in the contract that adequate packaging and materials must be used by event vendors.

  • Recyclable materials – these materials are reused and some examples include: aluminium and steel cans, cardboard, glass, newspapers and plastic bottles.
  • Composting materials – it is a process that involves organic waste which can be used for different purposes. It gives back to the earth the materials that initially came from it. Examples of compostable materials include: fruits, vegetables, leaves, old wine and any biodegradable waste.

4. Print only necessary materials

Instead of printing out promotional materials and tickets, try to do that electronically. There are many platforms that provide solutions for that, Oveit being among them. For promotional materials, you can send out newsletters instead of brochures and flyers. However, in some situations, brochures and flyers prove to be more effective. If you decide to print, do that strategically. Do it on both sides and avoid blank spaces.

5. Clearly mark all containers for recyclables

Clear signage is essential to differentiate which materials can be recycled and where to put them. It would be a good idea to place signs high, so that your attendees can see them from distance. Use self-explanatory photos with universal symbols to assure that foreigners will have no trouble understanding the message. Besides that, provide written instructions in English and other relevant languages.

Communicate in advance with the local recycling service provider and request color-coded bins. Avoid placing recycling bins in separate areas, because it’s not convenient for your participants. Instead, place a recycle bin next to every trash can and use clear signage to differentiate them.

Dear event planners, Volunteers are part of your team

If volunteering can change the world than I think it’s safe to say that volunteers can change your event. My colleagues and I saw many events were volunteers’ contribution was so important that I don’t really know if those events could have been possible without their help. And this is perfectly normal – large events (especially festivals, exhibitions, and conferences) mean large crowds so any extra help is greatly cherished. There are many reasons for which people volunteer at events and there are many reasons for event planners to reach out to volunteers. But for this to work you, the event planner, should:

picture of 4 volunteers holding fists together

Find out where you need help

Before you contact volunteers you must know what you actually need them for, meaning you will need to evaluate your needs for personnel. Find out which departments would need some extra help: marketing and communications, sales, technic department etc. so you know who to look for. People like volunteering but they also like to know what they are volunteering for and it wouldn’t do you any good to look for someone to help with registration when you actually lack a sound technician.

 

Ask early

My biggest problem when growing up was that I always waited until the last minute when I wanted/needed something. And, as life taught me (the hard way, how else?!), things tend to get rough when time isn’t on your side.

Spread the news that you are looking for volunteers early on otherwise you can you can find yourself in the unpleasant situation of not having enough personnel on site.

 

Define your expectations 

If you don’t know where you’re going how will you know when you get to the destination? Things aren’t very different if we speak of a new task or project: if you don’t know what you want to achieve how will you know if you did a good job? Things are even more unclear for volunteers, so you will need to explain to them what should be the end result of their work. It’s easier to evaluate your work when you have some clear goals.

P.s. this doesn’t mean that you must micromanage your volunteers, don’t get me wrong

 

Don’t “save” obnoxious tasks for volunteers 

You and your team should act like leaders and don’t use volunteers for the jobs that nobody wants, instead offer them the chance to do something meaningful. This way you can count on their help for your next events (and will be able to add some experienced people to your team).

 

Form groups and offer training 

After everybody has chosen a role it’s time for you to host a training for the whole team.

I saw that, generally, things work great when you create mixed workgroups (volunteers + team members) and offer the same “training” for all. Encourage socialization between your team and volunteers because, after all, you are all in the same boat, so you need to act like one big team.

Before your event starts “walk” everybody through the whole process at least once, so they all get the big picture. Seeing how a rather tiny role in the process actually helps things move forward will make everyone more enthusiastic about their role in the event.

 

Praise volunteers for their hard work

“How you feel is often more important than what you earn”. We tend to value words of appreciation more than we value financial rewards, studies reveal. But if you think that words of appreciation are so used so often that they start to lose their value…think again.Genuine words of appreciation are rare and hard to forget, so are able to make you really known and appreciated within the community of volunteers.

 

…and don’t forget that VOLUNTEERS ARE PART OF YOUR TEAM.