We all have a responsibility for our environment. It is important that from the outset you consider any measures you can put in place to make the event sustainable and minimise the impact on the environment. Some of these measures may also save money for the event but if there are additional costs then you’ll often find that paddlers are prepared to pay a little extra if they know that it’s to support the environment.
There are a number of ways that you can reduce the environmental impact of your event.
Some of the ways that you can do this are:
Reusable equipment - try to avoid using single use items where possible. If you are producing signs or branding, can you make them generic enough that they can be used for multiple events? Reusable cable ties can be used to avoid being used once and then discarded.
Transport - are there creative ways to avoid everyone needing to travel separately with boats? Could groups of people bring a trailer and car share to reduce the number of vehicles travelling or could boats be provided at the venue? Can you encourage car sharing between volunteers? If the venue is accessible via public transport make sure people are aware of this.
Giveaways - think about what you are handing out at the event - do you need to have fliers for every person attending? Can you avoid having cheap plastic items for people to pick up or buy that are likely to be discarded soon after?
Litter & Recycling - as an absolute minimum, any event should make sure that there is no litter left at the end of an event. Bins and recycling points can be provided for participants to use
Food - look to source food from local suppliers to reduce the carbon footprint, reduce the amount of food waste from the event and consider ways to use this, e.g. through local charities or food banks.
Make a positive impact - can you do something to enhance the environment where your event is taking place? Could you organise a river clean up as part of the event or look at options for offsetting the carbon footprint such as planting trees.
Raising awareness - make sure that people attending your event know what you’re doing to support the environment and what they can do to support it in their everyday lives.
As well as the general environmental measures you can put in place, there are specific things that can be done to reduce the amount of plastic which is used as part of the event.
Some of the key areas are:
Catering - ask caterers to avoid single use plastic in containers, single-serving condiments, straws and cutlery for the event. You can also encourage the use of reusable cups by promoting to participants and spectators and liaising with caterers.
Drinks - remove drinks in plastic bottles from the event. Offer water stations where possible and notify participants in advance so that they know they can refill their own bottles on site. Ask caterers to avoid selling plastic bottles or cups, cans or cartons can be used as an alternative - even for water.
Suppliers - ask all suppliers to consider the materials they are using. If something doesn’t need to be made from plastic, ask them to avoid it.
There are a range of useful resources online in this area including:
- Preventing Plastic Pollution - various guidance documents for sporting settings
- Marine Conservation Society - Tips for Reducing Plastic for Events
- RAW Foundation - The Making Waves Guide to Plastic-Free Festivals and Events
- Plastic Free Sports Events Toolkit
Environmental Safety / Biosecurity
If we are not careful, paddlers can inadvertently cause the spread of non-native species between waterways. Some of these species can have a massive impact on our waterways, causing blockages and reducing access for all users. It’s important that, as an organiser, you encourage paddlers to be aware of these risks and to do what they can to stop the spread. There is a range of information available via the British Canoeing website to help to support this.
To prevent the spread on non-native species, organisers should plan for how they will manage biosecurity BEFORE, DURING and AFTER the event. This could include considering:
- Ensuring participants have cleaned their boat and equipment before your event
- Completing a biosecurity risk assessment for the event
- Setting up a biosecurity station to allow boat cleaning to take place. Ideally this would have a a good water supply and be situated on hard standing
- Ensuring participants have information on the location of the biosecurity station - clear signage as well as supportive information on invasive species
- Having volunteers in place to support people to check, clean and dry boats before leaving
- Reminding paddlers and anyone providing equipment for the event to follow the Check, Clean, dry principles:
- Check your equipment and clothing for living organisms after you have paddled
- Clean all equipment, clothing and shoes before leaving the water body where you have paddled
- Dry all equipment and clothing carefully