Sustainable development measures at festivals and events can vary greatly, from waste sorting islands to shuttle bus services, to donation drives for environmental organizations. This kind of commitment to green practices gives them a more human dimension, and allows us to see what values we share. So finding out more about the on-site services offered by the festival or event of your choice and how to take advantage of them is essential.
Official websites and social media pages are good resources for finding answers to your questions about the practices in place. On websites, the information can often be found under "Practical Info", "About" or "Sustainable Development" tabs, or on the FAQ page. Some even create their own app with all the information you need to prepare for the festival. Download it to avoid paper!
Now that you're well informed, it's time to get practical! Here's your list to go from regular festival-goer to sustainable festival-goer!
· Have your e-ticket ready. Find it in your confirmation email, take a screenshot on your phone or download it to your e-wallet so you don't have to print it out.
· Decide on your mode of transportation. Use active transportation (such as walking or biking) whenever possible, or use public transit or shuttle services, which are sometimes free. If you have to drive, plan to carpool!
· Plan what you’ll eat and drink. Check if there are concession stands or restaurants on site before you leave. If outside food or snacks are allowed on site, you could then plan to bring your own lunch. And don't forget to pack a reusable water bottle.
· Choose what you’ll wear. Do you really need a new outfit to wear to a festival? Make use of what you already have in your closet, or head to the thrift store instead of buying something new. If the forecast calls for rain, be sure to bring a raincoat so that you don’t end up buying a rain poncho you’re unlikely to use again!
· Bring reusable bags and containers. This is a good solution if you need to carry any trash or for bringing leftovers back home in order to avoid food waste.
· Learn about greenhouse gas compensation measures. Whether it’s at the moment you buy your ticket, on site at the festival or afterwards on a carbon footprint offsetting website, there are many ways for you to do your part, which is why it's so important to be informed.
Being prepared is definitely important, but the efforts you make on site at the festival or event are the ones that will have the greatest impact. Here are a few tips to help you put what you’ve learned about being eco-friendly into practice.
· Sort your waste properly. If composting facilities are not available on site, you can take your organic waste back home with you to compost. And be sure to put your cans in the deposit box, if there is one, and not in the recycling bin.
· Drink from a returnable, reusable glass. If these kinds of glasses are offered, they are a good alternative to disposable ones. Be sure to return them before you leave.
· Buy local. Whether you’re buying food or other items, buying local has a huge positive impact! It’s also a great way to discover new foods or drinks that haven’t travelled too far to get to your plate or glass.
· Fill up your reusable water bottle. Instead of buying a bottle of water, make use of drinking fountains on site if there are any to fill up your own bottle.
· Take care of the natural environment. Be careful not to leave any trace or cause any damage to nature, and do not wander outside of the physical site of the festival or event.
· Think about what you are consuming. It's important to ask yourself if you really need any of the promotional items or goodies that may be handed out free of charge. Don’t hesitate to refuse them if you don't need them.
If you have a question, don't hesitate to ask the staff or the “green brigade” if there is one. These are the people who can answer your questions and give you information on eco-friendly measures.
Once the festival is over, you can continue to get involved and take on other actions that demonstrate your commitment to eco-responsibility. For example, do you make it a point to fill out the customer satisfaction survey that is often sent out after the festival or event? It's a good opportunity to share your impressions and ideas.
If the festival you attended doesn’t send out a survey, know that the organizing staff would still be happy to get feedback on what you enjoyed and what improvements could be considered for future events.
You can practise being eco-friendly online, too, by deleting the emails you received from the festival that you don’t need anymore.
Do you know someone who's planning to attend a festival soon? Now's the time to share your best practices or recommend that they read this article!
And as a final tip, have you ever considered personally getting involved in organizing your favourite festival? This is an excellent way to have your say in making it more sustainable and to do your part in helping it come back year after year! A small step can go a long way!
Consult the directory of attractions and events that are members of Événements Attractions Québec