5 Small Things You Can Do To Make Your Venue Eco-Friendly

26 Sep 2018

Ticketsolve's #culturechangeforclimatechange campaign continues!

Have you heard of the butterfly effect? Aside from being an Ashton Kutcher movie, it’s a theory coined by 20th-century mathematician and meteorologist, Edward Norton Lorenz. Lorenz was running a weather model to forecast weather conditions using data rounded in what he thought was an inconsequential way. What he found was that this rounding of numbers, this seemingly unimportant act, actually created drastically different results than when using the actual figures. The metaphorical example is that of a tornado’s course being completely altered by a butterfly flapping its wings several weeks earlier.

You might be wondering how this relevant. Well, sometimes, with the world being such a huge place, it’s easy to feel insignificant and like nothing you do actually matters...but, as we’ve seen from the butterfly effect, this isn’t true at all! Everything we do, changes the world in some way, whether we are aware of it or not. So what if we were to think about our actions a little bit more, and became a bit more conscious of our presence in the world and how it affects our environment?

And that’s what we’re going to have a bit of a discussion and a think about now. How can we make small changes in our organisations that are simple to implement but have wide-reaching effects?

Humans are pretty resistant to change, we love habits, we love familiarity - once you get used to doing something one way, it’s hard to conceive of doing it any other way because that’s just the way it's done and it’s easy! Changing things is going to take considerable effort and buy-in from those around you. In all honesty, who could be bothered? Well, this is why you should be . . .

 

We can no longer ignore what’s happening to our planet. ‘Climate-change deniers’ have their heads in the sand. The ice caps are melting at a phenomenal rate, our oceans are full of plastic and it’s killing our sea-life, we’re deforesting the lungs of our planet, our rainforests, at an alarming speed - we have to do something to either slow down the destruction of our planet, or reverse the ill-effects suffered so far.

But we said earlier that humans aren’t great with change - so what can we do?

We can start small.

It is like the boiling frog analogy - if you throw them in boiling water they’ll hop out straight-away, but if you throw them in and heat the water up slowly, they’ll stay put - creeping normality. Now, I’m not sure if this is actually true, it’s a thing that’s said, and implore you not to try it out because it seems quite cruel either way, but it does highlight that if things are done slowly, you won’t really feel the pain of change!

So what small changes can we make to make our organisations more eco-friendly

 

Utensils

Paper plates and plastic forks remind me of being four, in nursery class, celebrating one of my contemporaries birthdays, singing happy birthday, chocolate cake and milk - general joy and good times for everyone! So, those multi-coloured ‘happy birthday’ paper plates do make my heart sing a bit, but I know they’re bad. They’re usually made of some kind of paper coated in plastic, and the plastic forks are, unsurprisingly, pure plastic. The lovely thing about them is the convenience. No washing-up involved, just dump them in the bin and ship it off to the landfill! Hey presto, no mess, no fuss, no problem, out of sight, out of mind. But, if we want to make sure the planet is around for future generations of people, animals and plant life, we’re going to have to sacrifice a little convenience (sorry e’rryone!).

I’ll be the first to say, I hate washing up. It’s one of my most loathed chores. But, if it’s going to mean that we can keep the world around a bit longer, then I am happy to do my bit. Why not buy some unique plates from a local craftsperson (reducing your carbon footprint even more by keeping things local!). These local plates will make your food look even more delectable on Instagram. Don’t forget the eco-friendly washing up liquid for even more impact. If you’re dead set against washing up, then there are loads of options out there for biodegradable plates and utensils. A few companies worth having a look at are Cornware, Vegware and Biopac.

The other utensil that’s been coming under fire of late is the humble straw. It’s not something I’ve really thought about until I read a story from the hometown of a Ticketsolve venue, The Westport Town Hall - Westport a small town in the west of Ireland took the move to completely eradicate plastic straws from their town by banning their usage. Paper straws are the straw of choice, but if you want to go one better, you can buy a stainless steel straw that you carry everywhere with you. Keep in mind there have been some challenges to banning plastic straws because for some people (for example, people with particular types of disabilities), plastic bendy straws particularly are important and offer a measure of independence. 

 

Food & Drinks

Food wastage is a big problem. An article I read last year on The Guardian had a great impact on me and made me realise the scale of the wastage going on - households in the UK wasted on average £470 each in 2015, equating to 4.4 million tonnes of food - in money terms that’s £13 billion. That’s a lot of wastage. If your establishment has a café, there are a number of things you can do to reduce the food wastage. Have you considered smaller portions? If your patrons are consistently leaving most of what you serve them, reduce the amount of food on their plates. In the kitchen, try to reduce food wastage by storing food correctly, buying locally and seasonally - this has the added benefit of reducing the carbon footprint of the food you sell in your organisation. It’s not always possible to buy locally or seasonally, and if this is the case, then you should ensure that you are only buying what is needed, and if you end up with extra, consider donating food to local charities. Some companies that are doing this on a major scale, and should be commended are FoodCloud and FareShare - these organisations are turning unwanted food into meals for those in need.

Another way to be a bit greener is to introduce an extra vegetarian dish or two! We’re not saying you’ve got to get rid of all your chicken stuffing sandwiches right this minute, but perhaps swap one of your meat options out for a vegan or vegetarian dish instead. The meat industry is one of the largest contributors to methane production and the “average water footprint per calorie for beef is twenty times larger than for cereals and starchy roots”.  By making a small switch like this, over the course of a year, you will have made a significant change.

 

Go digital!

Printers. Unlike the band OK Go, I’ve never had much success with them.

Either they won’t connect, the ink’s run out or there’s a paper jam. All-in-all it’s a frustrating piece of technology, that dislikes me as much as I dislike all of its ilk (although, I might make an exception for 3D printers!). But, the humble printers days are numbered. With the rise of cloud computing, I find I very rarely need to actually print anything at all. At Ticketsolve, we employ a paperless office - nothing is printed unless absolutely necessary. If you haven’t already switched to a paperless office, it’s worth trying out. With Gdrive and Dropbox, sharing files is easy - plus filing electronically takes up much less time, physical space (goodbye trusty ring binders) and no more paper cuts! Hurrah! Just remember to keep backup copies of your important documents. 

The biggest impact your venue or festival can have is to move to paperless tickets. You can even incentivise your patrons to go paperless by reducing the booking fee. Nowadays people expect to be able to show tickets on their phones. It’s very convenient and if you buy months in advance, you can file the tickets safely away in your email and you don’t have to worry about tickets being posted to the wrong address, or having to arrive early and queue at the box office to collect your tickets.

 

Hit The Switch!

Turn things off when you’re not using them - lights, computers, TVs - switch them off when not in use. Turn down your thermostat one or two degrees - you won’t really feel the difference in temperature but you’ll use less electricity and save on your heating bills - win-win! Similarly, do you have air conditioning? Air conditioning EATS electricity - lots of it, so only use it when you really, really have to! These things may seem trivial, but as we’ve said already, all these small things add up. On a daily basis it doesn’t seem like much, but making these small changes can make a significant difference over the course of a year.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

It’s a phrase that seems ingrained. It rolls of the tongue beautifully, like a song...but like the lyrics of any overplayed song, you can sing along, hitting every note perfectly (or at least thinking you are!) but forget the true meaning of what is being said. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Reduce, reuse, recycle, reduce, reuse, recycle...but how?

Reduce - reduce the plastic we use. Ask suppliers to send minimal packaging, so you can put more thought into what you are buying, where it is coming from and where it will ultimately end up. We can make things easier for customers to reduce their waste - install really efficient hand dryers, that get your hands really dry quickly, using minimal energy - this will reduce the number of paper towels you’ll require in the bathroom. While we’re in the bathroom, you could convert your toilets to dual flush if you don’t already have this type of flush. Email your brochures instead of printing them out; the same can be done with flyers! Invest in low energy screens that can display your upcoming shows instead of tons of paper flyers which will end up in the bin or the gutter.

Reuse - figure out ways to reuse things you would normally toss. Consider everything you might throw away an opportunity to reuse. Old electronics, screens, computers, printers etc., can often be donated, even for parts. Have a load of printed materials you don’t know what to do with, consider a unique art project that promotes your venue and your eco-attitude. Even those jars from the cafe can be reused to make little vases for cafe tables. Get creative and check locally for places that might be able to use the things your venue or festival no longer needs.

Recycle - make sure you make it easy for your customers to recycle while on your premise - have colour coded bins set up, with easy to follow instructions, so customers can do their bit and recycle at your venue!

 

 

In the words of Jack Johnson, make it funky for the kids now…we’ve got to make changes now to ensure that future generations have a bright, green, enjoyable future ahead!

 

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