A couple of years ago I participated in the Youth Strike that was held all over the world. In the Northwest of the US they were well attended, and it looked like the attendees get it. They understand that Climate Change is real. But are they changing any of their behaviors?

Taking a closer look, I see that there is still a lot of work to be done.

Walking over to the sponsors who were tabling across the street, I first saw the food wagon with letters about 3-foot-high which read, “Bacon.” On the other edge of that section was a hot dog cart. These were the only two food carts. One booth was building peanut butter sandwiches for the youth, which I guess is better than bacon wrapped whatever served on a Styrofoam box.

Did the organizers know that our consumption of meat is one of the main contributors to increased amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere? I know some of them did.

Then, I meandered a bit more around the sponsor tables, all environmental groups, to find stacks and stacks of paper, printed with colorful inks, or what I call “fire starter.” I think most of you agree that all that paper that you pick up may get read at some point, or more likely, will end up in the recycle bin. But one more sad note – no one here in this Oregon town recycles paper!

Once I got over the moment of disbelief we walked over to the other corner where the action was taking place. Students were marching in with their homemade signs of various designs. It was beautiful. Most of them were also on paper and cardboard that will end up in the landfill because there is no way that I have found to recycle them here.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized a few more things. The paper signs are probably as problematic as the foam board variety. Both will end up in the landfill unless they are works of art to be used again (most were not).

Since my personal philosophy is to never complain unless I plan to do something about it, here are a few solutions that I hope organizers pay attention to.

Planning a Sustainable Event

  1. Food should always be vegetarian at the very least, organic, locally sourced and served on reusable dishes and utensils. Organizers can also ask people to bring their own mugs for provided fill stations and cloth napkins. Why not? It is time to make drastic change.
  2. Tables should have one sign with a QR code to your website and contact information. Also, collect their email and put them on your email list so you can send them the information they seek. Have a couple of images that “show” what you do and have a conversation! Old habits are hard to break, but our waters don’t need all the toxic ink residue and our landfills don’t need the paper.
  3. Create some guidelines for signage. If you have recycling, great. Reuse old cardboard and then recycle. If not, I saw some great cloth signs that were screen printed with very cool graphics and pinned on people’s backs. This is something you can reuse over and over and have a nice piece of art to hang on the wall. Nice conversation starter when people come to visit.