Written by David Jamilly.

At Theme Traders we practise a values-based approach to the environment and are passionate about reducing unnecessary waste. We want to encourage the events industry to do the same, all doing our part to tackle climate change.

Adopting a zero-waste culture

Sir David Attenborough spoke at the UN Climate Change Conference about the blight we are creating for the future of this beautiful and sensitive planet through plastic waste in the oceans, emissions, global warming and destruction of the natural world.

Global scientists universally agree that if we continue on our current unsustainable course it will only be a handful of decades until we reach a meltdown… ‘zero planet’.

However, adopting a ‘zero waste’ culture both at individual corporate and governmental level is one way to help mitigate the environmental impact that will otherwise spell out sure disaster for us all.

What is ‘zero waste’?

It is a way of life where:

  • We act through need not greed
  • We give back as much as we take from the resources of the planet
  • We think in terms of ‘we’ not ‘me’

It is essentially a 360 degree turn on the excesses that we have become accustomed to in the 21st Century. A total change of mindset.

Everybody actively doing what they can in this respect will enable a chain reaction resulting in tangible positive impact.  Events companies need to re-think their approach to events to actively be part of this movement.

Burning Man festival & zero waste principles

Over thirty years ago the Burning Man Festival, which takes place in the Blackrock Desert Nevada, laid down a set of governing principles. These set a great example as to how we can manage waste and set about facilitating the change needed; particularly in the events industry.

Burning Man Festival has consistently been the most artistically creative immersive event that the world has ever seen. With a city of over 70,000 popping up annually in a grey and dust swept prehistoric lakebed for just a week at a time.

Its installation and performance-art challenges all boundaries and defies all imaginable form and scale. It is heavily attended by heads of Silicon Valley and it is said that many of the technological ideas that frame our day-to-day have been seeded there.

At the end of the week every single trace is cleared away and the desert is left in pristine condition as if nothing ever took place.

Those governance principles are;

  • Radical inclusion
  • Gifting
  • Decommodification
  • Radical self-reliance
  • Communal effort
  • Civic responsibility
  • Leave no trace
  • Participation
  • Immediacy
  • Radical self-expression

Each of these tenets has a strength and bearing worthy of elaboration, but in terms of the current contextualisation it is not hard to see how for example ‘leave no trace’ and ‘immediacy’ would seriously help the environment.

The environmental impact

We live in a wasteful society where at least 25% less resources would be needed were we to recycle where possible. The environmental impact of that on our carbon footprint alone would reflect back incrementally in terms of global warming and wellbeing to animal and plant life.

These principles and a ‘zero waste’ attitude can be adopted both at individual and societal level.

At individual level, even simple recycling and cutting back on meat products, energy use awareness, food waste and plastic packaging will really help.

At event industry level, understanding the environmental impact of a given event is the first step.  Next managing power consumption & transport, reducing use of disposable materials, focusing on waste management are all positive steps we should be taking as an event company.

At societal/governmental/corporate level a lot more can be achieved with the greater resources available and the ability to set a good example to the public at large. Ethical purchasing, going green and of course ‘zero waste’ all count amongst the practically achievable possibilities.

At Theme Traders we practise a values-based approach to environmental matters and one of our many schemes is to plant trees where we are not able to offset in any other way.

With a more conscious approach to ‘zero waste’ we will together perhaps be able to avoid a ‘zero planet’ consequence.

Looking to reduce waste at your next event? Visit our prop page and hire instead of buy for your next event.


We close for the Christmas holidays on the 16th December and will be open again on the 6th January