The 45th celebration of Earth Day is over, and a review of the media coverage indicates that the event was a success. Earthday.org tracks Earth Day events and listed thousands of educational fairs, festivals, concerts and cleanups that were held in the United States and around the world in celebration of Mother Earth.
Some events were small while others were huge. Some were simple while others were massive undertakings that took months to plan. Companies, corporations and governments spent millions of dollars sponsoring Earth Day activities. The result…millions of people around the globe gave pause to think about the environment and the importance of protecting and enhancing our planet.
While Earth Day is the most popular “environmental holiday,” it’s not the only day that is focused on sustainability. Other events include America Recycles Day, Arbor Day, Earth Hour and World Environmental Day.
Sponsoring and planning a special event to promote environmental awareness is an excellent opportunity to improve recycling rates and foster a better understanding of the things people can do to be more environmentally sustainable. If you are considering hosting an event to raise environmental awareness or promote a recycling program, consider the following tips to make your event a success:
Good planning creates good events
Regardless of the size or type of event, its success or failure is directly related to the amount of planning and leadership involved in the project. At the start of the planning process spend some time to come up with an idea or theme for the event. Ask, “What it is that you want to promote or change?”
Once you have a clear objective, you can move forward with the planning process. As you plan, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. No idea is too big or too small.
Research other events to determine if there are other events in your area
Review what has occurred in the community during prior Earth Days or America Recycles Days. An internet search can help you identify groups and organizations who may be helpful in the planning process. If appropriate, consider joining forces and building alliances to create a spectacular event.
Choose an event and a location
You will want to host the event at a location that has good visibility and access for the community. Think about the logistics such as the number of people coming, parking, type of activity, etc… Reserve the space well in advance. Avoid locations that are too far out of the way and too remote for people to get to or find.
Publicize the event
Put extra effort into spreading the word and getting the community involved in the event. Recruit volunteers and community groups to participate! Use a variety of tools to communicate within the community. While many people use social media, don’t forget about the importance of traditional advertising and marketing techniques.
You should have a well-planned strategy for your communication efforts including the use of social media, e-mail, posters, flyers and print advertisements. Working with the news media will help get attention in advance of the event. Submitting information to local papers, television and radio stations will help get the word out to participants.
Another great way to publicize the event is to attend a town board or city council meeting to raise enthusiasm for your event and invite public officials to participate.
Details, details, details…
The key question when working out the logistics for the event is, “What will we need and how many?” Planning to host a large number of people requires an orchestrated effort, so be sure to think about all the details of the event including transportation, tools, parking, signage, safety, refreshments, entertainment, recycling and waste management, security and cleanup after the event.
You want to make the event fun. Volunteers and participants are sharing their time so make it a fun and memorable event. At the end of the day, everyone should feel good about what they learned or the work they accomplished.
Whether you plan to do a neighborhood cleanup, a poster contest, tree planting, foot or bike race, a recycling drop off service or something else, make sure it is relevant, positive and takes a step toward lasting change for your community. Remember, your event is the perfect opportunity to create greater awareness of the environment…start planning your event today.
Will Flower is general manager with Winters Bros. Waste Systems in Long Island, N.Y.