Running a ‘How to Live More Sustainably’ event

Overview

Running a ‘How to Live More Sustainably’ event is a great way to introduce, encourage and support people in your local community with ideas and tips on living a more sustainable lifestyle and reducing their carbon footprint and waste. It’s a relaxed drop-in event, no speakers but plenty of opportunity to ask questions at various information stalls.

All the information for the stalls can be found here Topics have been selected assuming that most visitors will be at the start of their ‘Living More Sustainably’ journey. They cover a wide variety of subjects and the tone is to encourage rather than chastise or criticize. Many people understand they need to make changes to their lifestyles but don’t know where to start or what will have the biggest impact. This event aims to answer their questions and spur them to action.

What will the event look like?

An ideal venue would be a village, church or school hall. There will be various information stalls, manned by volunteers set up around the outside of the room. Visitors will arrive and browse the stalls, looking at ideas, chatting and asking questions. The event is a drop-in event and the recommended time slot is two hours. You will need display tables.

How many people will I need to run the event?

You will need at least one person for every stall plus 1-2 people on the door to welcome visitors and invite them to browse. You may also like to have 1 person collecting feedback from visitors as they leave. If you have volunteers who have travelled or are from local councils or organisations, you may also like to have 1 person to make them a drink part way through the event. Chatting for two hours can be thirsty work. It is not necessary to offer refreshments to visitors. This is a lot of extra work and can be a distraction. You also probably don’t want people walking around carrying hot drinks.

Who should I ask to be a volunteer?

The volunteers for the information stands should be people who know a reasonable about the subject but they do not have to be experts! The information needed for all the stands can be found here  so they don’t need to do any further research, just read the information before the event and be comfortable chatting about it. They shouldn’t worry about being able to answer all questions – that’s what the internet is for! Above all, they should be enthusiastic, cheerful and positive.

Which topics should I cover?

First of all, work out how many display tables you can fit in your space, making sure there is enough room to move around. Some topics may need more than one table if there is lots to display.

The topics here have been chosen to cover a wide variety of issues that are easily manageable for people.  

  • Sustainable food and reducing food waste
  • Cleaning and household swaps and recipes
  • Personal Hygiene swaps
  • Clothing and the impact of fast fashion
  • Green Energy, heating and insulation, energy efficient appliances
  • Fairtrade and its importance for sustainability
  • Re-cycling and Re-purposing
  • General plastic reduction
  • Local shopping options to reduce waste
  • Composting and how to ‘Green your Garden’
  • How to use your car less

You may wish to ask your local council to run the stand on re-cycling. This event is an excellent opportunity for them to meet with local residents and hear their questions. It also helps local councils understand which aspects residents find confusing and so how they might better help.

Other local organisations you could ask?

  • Oxfam/Cafod Charity Shop to bring along Fairtrade products to sell
  • Local Real Nappy Network
  • Repair Café
  • Upcycling group
  • Local Climate Action Group
  • The National Cycle Network www.sustranss.org.uk
  • Local Zero Waste Shop (useful for household & personal hygiene swaps)
  • Local milk delivery company for swap to glass bottles/plastic free veg boxes

You may be approached by local sellers keen to come and sell their environmental products at the event. Whilst you may need one or two sellers to help pay for the event, you should keep sellers to a minimum as the main focus of the event is information only. For example at our first event, we had the local Oxfam shop who brought along their Fairtrade products and also a selection of their second hand books with titles linked to the environment and climate change. We also had a newly opened local zero waste shop who brought along household and personal hygiene swaps so visitors could buy some of the swaps they had seen on the other stalls.

Should we charge?

If at all possible, the How to Live More Sustainably event should be run as a free event. It should not be seen as or used as a business/money making opportunity. As discussed above, the majority of the stands should be information only. If you do need to recover costs such as hall hire, there are a few options.

  1. If you do have any ‘sellers’ at your event, charge them a fee to be represented as they will be making money.
  2. Have a box for donations on the door and be clear that it is going towards the hall hire for the event. Be clear about where any surplus funds will go, ie school PA, church fund, local community etc.
  3. Ask local businesses if they would be willing to make a small contribution towards costs in return for advertising at the event.
  4. Charge a small entrance fee & again be clear on where any surplus funds will go.

Advertising

  • Ask local businesses and shops to put up posters a few weeks before the event and use local community notice boards.
  • Ask local churches, schools and organisations if they would be happy to advertise the sustainability event either with posters or on-line or both.
  • Use social media. Local Facebook groups are great places to advertise. Start 3-4 weeks before the event and post weekly. The week of the event, post 2-3 times to remind people.
  • On the actual day, make sure you put a poster up on the door to your venue as some people may not be familiar with the location.

Handouts?

Printing handouts is costly, not very environmentally friendly and tricky when you don’t know how many visitors to expect. All the information for the stands is available online at www.therealmealdeal.com. You can also encourage visitors to take photos of information sheets on their phones. For those visitors who don’t have access to the internet or don’t have smart phones, it is advisable to have a very small number of information sheets printed out.

Timeline

5 weeks              Book venue & speak to people about helping out at the event. Decide how many stalls you can have and if you are inviting any outside organisations.

4 weeks               Confirm any outside organisations for your event. Speak to local churches, schools and organisations and ask if they would be happy to advertise your event. Prepare posters to put up in local shops & on community notice boards. Prepare a copy of the poster to be used on social media.

3 weeks               Advertise your event on social media groups. Distribute posters locally. Confirm your team of volunteers.

2 weeks               Continue to post on social media. Ensure your team have everything they need. You may need to organize a collection of items for the Personal Hygiene, Household  & Composting stands. Arrange printing of name signs for stands, info for stands any posters to display around the hall.

1 week                 Post on social media with 1 week to go, then 5 days then 3 days then tomorrow! Confirm with any local organisations if there is anything they need from you and what time they will be arriving. Decide a set up time with your team. Make sure you have a few people to help you set up and clear away afterwards. Put together everything you will need for the event, printing, blu-tack, sticky tape, any props and refreshments, post it notes for any feedback. Make sure you have a key to the venue!

Feedback

It’s always nice to collect feedback after all your hard work. Encourage visitors to write comments on Post-It notes (which are fully compostable) so you can see what visitors enjoyed or found useful.

Finally… If you are running an event, please let me know the village/town in the comment section below. It would be great to have a list of where other events have been held. Our first event attracted well over 250 people to our village hall & was just what people were looking for. Good luck & thank you!

To get all the information all the stands, click here

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