WordCamps and sustainability


TL;DR;

WordCamps generate waste. Since I have been organizing several WordCamps (the latest was WordCamp Rotterdam 2018), I have realized it is possible to reduce that stream of waste and make a WordCamp more sustainable and less damaging for the environment. 

Assist sponsors with their choice of swag, make clear agreements to only use products that are re-usable or recyclable. Make banners re-usable, print only what’s needed, use organic clothing. Find many more tips below.


Where to start?

Every event starts with planning. A date, a location, number of tracks, food, drinks, sponsor area, are some topics event organizers need to think about. 

Let’s compare the planning of an event to a coding project. All kinds of decisions have to be made, what framework to use, what privacy restrictions should be considered and what’s the impact of certain accessibility rules we should comply to? A project will be easier to manage if all (or most, depending on project management-style) of these requirements and rules are set in the beginning.

Same goes for planning a sustainable event. Think sustainable for every decision made.

Tips for organizers

The following tips are categorized, and give organizers information about the different focus areas where sustainability improvements can make a difference.

  • Meet online
  • Register all decisions and motivations for those decisions. This helps everybody to understand these decisions, and what their environmental impact (or lack of that) are.
  • Share lessons learned with other organizing teams.
  • Choose a venue that’s close to public transportation stop/stations to allow people to use public transportation and leave their cars at home. 
  • Discuss catering details with venue and make sure waste is recycled, or even better, reused on site. 
  • When supplying branded clothing, choose clotting from sustainable sources.
  • Print badges on sustainable, organic or recycled paper. Or use paper with a secondary function, like embedded seeds to grow some flower with the badge.

Tips for sponsors

  • Sponsor locally.
  • Send local employees if available.
  • Invest in sustainable swag.
  • Use reusable exhibition material (exhibition stand, banners, flyers, etc)

Tips for attendees

  • Travel by train if possible
  • Bring your own lanyard.
  • Bring your own reusable water bottle

If you read this, and have more tips, please drop ’em in the comments. Thanks.

Marcel Bootsman

Marcel is a WordPress consultant and builds and maintains WordPress websites at his own company: nostromo.nl

1 Comment

  1. Monique on September 7, 2018 at 11:20 am

    I liked the WordCamp Brighton’s initiative from both 2017 and 2018: providing branded water bottles and reusable coffee cups as swag.

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