This post is meant to serve as a quick tip guide for creating an ecological policy, what it is, and why it matters.
With ice caps melting and plastic filling our oceans, and kids revolting, it's clear that the way we live and do business must change. When you look at our festivals, it's hard to miss that there's a lot of us. Think about all the clubs, all the festivals, all the house parties, all the everyone that is part of it on any level, this global electronic dance music scene. All of us within this culture have a circle of friends we can influence and knowing the festival organizers and all the artists have global reach, we, therefore, can make a HUGE impact.
So, let's do this!
An ecological policy is both a statement and a plan to staff and stakeholders on environmental and social good activities of the organization. Change often starts with an individual who wishes to see changes in the office or organizationally. Successful onboarding and buy-in of office-mates help to build camaraderie around the endeavor so policy changes can affect the entire organization, network, and perhaps larger surrounding community.
If you are an ecopreneur, this should be one of the first things you consider in your business plan. If you are already in business, it's never too late to start and create one today for the home, office, artist you may manage, or your next event.
The concepts of Reducing, Reusing, Recycling, Rethinking should lead eco-policy creation.
Identify the different levels or spheres of influence to address with the eco-policy:
- Individuals (self, friends, staff, business contacts)
- Events (all staff, contractors, artists, fans)
- Surrounding community (stakeholders of the community where office or event is located)
- Global reach (online)
Eco-Policy concepts that should be covered:
- WASTE MANAGEMENT (For the office this can include paper usage, recycling and and ewaste/ old electronics recycling, whereas for an event it’s could cover considerations about water bottles, vendor waste, bathrooms).
- WELLNESS (Think reducing toxins. Office level this could be "in what ways are we contributing to the health of our staff, surrounding community and the planet". For an artist this can be "how do I contribute to greater health of myself, community, or planet." While for an event this can be a consideration of all products used such as "does that mirrored confetti biodegrade?")
- ENERGY (This can be looking at fan transportation - which is a huge burden on the impact of the event - or for an office switching your lights to LED)
- REGENERATION (This is the giving back element. This can be strictly “green” or looked at more from an holistic perspective and ask "what does our surrounding community need?")
- IDENTIFICATION STRATEGIES (how do you brainstorm eco-friendly alternatives and solutions for yourself, office, business, or event?)
An Eco-policy can be inspired by theories or applications such as:
Earth Charter initiative
Charter for Compassion
Cradle to Cradle
Other resources or memberships to investigate:
- American Sustainable Business Council
- Green Chamber of Commerce
- Green America
And now an article and call to action written by EMA Founding Member, Kira Sadler:
According to the United Nations, “music is one of the most powerful media to communicate environmental messages to billions of people worldwide...” Electronic dance music (EDM) exemplifies this statement uniquely by uniting people to a beat as opposed to lyric restricted by language. With an estimated value of $4.5 billion and a globally expanding audience, the EDM industry has the opportunity to create a new era of sustainable festivals and to educate a global audience on the importance of environmental preservation. The Electronic Music Alliance (EMA) calls on the industry as a whole to take action and use our creative, celebratory culture to protect the resources and planet we depend on.
EMA is dedicated to ensuring that our parties and joy do not come at the expense of the environment. EDM festivals from around the world already provide brilliant examples of practices the industry could adopt as standards to green our clubs and festivals. Lightning in a Bottle’s (LIB) “free water initiative” offers water to all with a reusable container. This practice reduces festival waste dramatically and also provides for healthier, more hydrated participants. LIB hosts environmental workshops on sight to educate interested individuals on do-it-yourself practices that can be adapted for their home community. To ensure effectiveness, LIB hosts an audit each year to grade their environmental performance.
Each August full moon, Portugal hosts the BOOM festival, widely acknowledged as the greenest EDM festival in the world. In addition to providing free water, event staff built an environmentally friendly water treatment unit which is used to treat 100% of wastewater. Composting toilets were built over the years and most recent figures state that 98% of the toilets on site are composting, leading to no black water waste. BOOM currently aims to produce 25% of the required power for the event with renewable resources such as solar and wind. LED lighting reduces energy consumption in all public areas and on art installations. The festival educates the public on waste, water usage and other environmental practices through ample signage.
BOOM’s constant effort to improve sustainable practices is exemplary of the innovation that might be adopted in the EDM industry, creating a culture that constantly transcends expectations and creates new solutions for a fun and sustainable world.
Burning Man exists uniquely among festivals. Creating a city where resources must be imported from great distance poses challenges most producers will not encounter. The circumstances of the event however, required the adoption of a leave-no-trace culture that will ideally spread to all festivals and clubs. When event organizers don’t have to pay for extra clean up help, those resources can be allocated to more important efforts. Burning Man has acknowledged their communities unique potential to address global environmental crises and has offered the “6 Rs”: Respect, Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Restore as their environmental strategy. Beginning with a position of respecting all people, environments, and objects and ending with an ethos of paying it forward adds soul to the process.
EDM leads in music, so why not take the lead in sustainability? Each festival or club event should incorporate a multitude of actions to become more sustainable and the industry as a whole should create a comprehensive strategy for environmental sustainability. Any of the below actions (as well as others) could be incorporated into this plan:
- Composting food
- Offering local and organic food choices both in food vendors and back stage
- Consider food purchase from CSAs where available
- Provide free water to attendees who bring re-usable bottles
- Use signage and messaging to educate festival goers on environmental issues and sustainability before, during, and after the event
- Creating volunteer teams to sweep all areas for trash aka MOOP (matter out of place)
- Invite local environmental nonprofits to table your event and possibly collaborate on initiatives
- For larger events, create an eco-villages populated with environmental non-profits and others to educate and provide examples of sustainable practices
- Reducing waste as much as possible, as well as finding ways to turn waste into revenue streams for the industry
- Active recycling at all events
- Greening artist entertainment and hospitality
- Using alternative fuels and energy sources where possible
- Creating ways to reuse essential materials brought to festivals
We are all connected intrinsically to the earth. Its resources support our health, our livelihoods, and our recreation. Nothing that we do is possible without our unique planet. As members of the EDM community we recognize our connection and we participate together with joy and celebration. In this spirit, let us be leaders in protecting that which sustains us.
Now is the time.