Heading towards a zero waste TEDxUbud
We may only be a small event with 350 attendees, but we still believe that the choices we make in event production have an impact on Bali and our community.
Every year we begin our preparations with a simple question—how to feed, create experiences for, and inform 350 attendees while producing the least amount of waste and environmental impact?
We start by providing a car pooling option for attendees to get to the venue. This year the transport will be bio-fueled with used cooking oil!
We also ask attendees to bring their own water bottles to the event. We don’t supply any bottled water during the day, just glasses and refill stations using Nazava water filters.
For the food, we are lucky to be able to work with Bali food producers who prioritize slow food values—organic, farmer friendly, local food. We don’t use disposable cutlery or plates to serve, but rather traditional Balinese plates made with coconut leaves which are compostable. Our venue hosts have a permaculture compost system that goes on to feed their kitchen gardens for future guests and events.
One of the things TEDxUbud is known for is its vegetarian and vegan fare. Our attendees often make jokes about the “Ubud food” and the fact they can’t eat meat all day. But did you know by going vegetarian or vegan for just one day you can save up to 3.41 kilograms of CO2 emissions per person? So, at TEDxUbud (based on 400 people including attendees and staff) we can save 854 kilograms of CO2 emissions with one meat-free day! (That’s taking into account existing vegetarians and low meat eaters!)
Any waste that is created we sort at the event into recyclables and dispose of by working with one of Bali’s pioneers in garbage management.
Plastic is a huge issue in Bali as described in the recent TED talk from Melati and Isabel Wijsen: “In Bali we generate 680 cubic metres of plastic a day. That’s about a 14-storey building,” Isabel says in the TED talk. “And when it comes to plastic bags less than five percent get recycled.”
If we print materials we try to use only recycled paper and materials or print on cloth, which can then be re-purposed into bags after the event.
We choose to work with Indonesia and Bali-based partners that prioritize artisanal and handmade values. This year our notebooks are handmade batik cloth covered, produced by a company that is working to preserve batik traditions in Indonesia. We also commissioned glasses made by upcycling discarded glass bottles to give to each attendee. Other attendee gifts include locally produced natural bug spray, handmade Balinese fans and organic snacks.
The philosophy even stretches to who we choose to produce our team t-shirts with. The t-shirts this year are perhaps more expensive than a basic T, but we feel strongly about making sure we know ‘who made our clothes’ and knowing the cloth is sustainably produced, from the dye used to the wages paid to the workers.
These are just a few ways our theme ‘Small Things, Great Things’ is influencing everything at the 2016 TEDxUbud.