Halloween 2010 complete. Amidst all of the hustle and bustle of fierce costume making, candy buying, and decoration prep for the holiday, we happen to find ourselves in a very wasteful state. Americans as a whole spend over $5.8 billion on Halloween each year. $5.8 billion! It’s a ghastly number for sure. And think about what that is going to: individually packaged candy, costumes we will never wear again, and decorations that we purchase more of each year. What to do. Well, with each holiday also comes some options to celebrate with sustainability in mind believe it or not. I got to experience that quite a bit over the past four days (yes Halloween turned into a four-day holiday this year).
Thursday I finally got to see the finished product of something I was planning vigorously for the past few weeks for Campus Sustainability Month: a Halloween-themed concert. How is a concert sustainable? Well, in essence it’s not, but it’s what you choose to do with it that makes it keep that sustainability focus. For one, we made admission free, but if you brought a recycled bottle with you to the admission table, you were entered into a raffle. [1. Encouragement of recycling.] Then as attendees walked in, we had all of our campus environmental organizations set up to talk to people about their projects and initiatives. [2. Encouragement to join campus sustainability initiatives.] At the end, we had a donated table of natural food by IC’s Dining Services, giving students good food, local cider, and info about Sodexo’s commitment to sustainability. [3. Knowledge of where are food comes from.] And then there was the concert itself.
Now in retrospect, concerts need a lot of energy to actually work. That may be the case, but we thought ahead for it. The band we chose, Revision, is actually a “local” band. They are IC grads and though they travel the northeast playing at shows, their homebase is Ithaca. [4. Support of the local community.] And the best part is…Revision travels in a van run on vegetable oil. [5. Choosing a sustainable-minded band.] That’s my favorite part. In between sets, we raffled off prizes, but our main prizes were energy saving power strips, small Halloween bags made by Sew Green (a local fabric reuse shop), and Sew Green gift certificates. [6 & 7. More local support and encouragement of saving energy.] And finally, and perhaps the best part way to make this a sustainably conscious concert…carbon offsets. There was no way we could put on a concert and not address the energy we were using for it, so we decided we would offset part of the concert through Finger Lakes Climate Fund. [8 &9. Take responsibility for energy use and offset through local projects.]
So there we have it folks. Holidays may be a time for celebration and exciting events to attend, but we can certainly do it with the future in mind. So to recap, these are the top 10 ways to make any event a successfully sustainable one:
1. Encourage recycling.
2. Encourage joining local organizations with sustainability focuses and that make you think differently.
3. Provide knowledge of where the food comes from and make sure that place is as close to home as possible.
4. Support the local community in the process.
5. Choose a sustainable-minded main attraction (be it a band, keynote, etc.)
6. Keep supporting the local community! (It’s so important, so it gets mentioned twice.)
7. Encourage energy saving.
8. Take responsibility for your events energy use.
9. Support a local offset fund.
I know, I know…what about 10. Well 10 is most important: Be a conscious thinker. Sounds simple, but its more important than ever to make decisions that you really think through, detail for detail. So have fun planning your next shindig!