The Big Climate Thing’s Event Plan for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction

Large events are inherently carbon intensive, which is a problem when it comes to addressing climate change. So, why are we producing a large event in the first place and what are we doing to reduce our emissions?

First, we can’t imagine a world with no more live music. We love seeing our favorite artists, and feeling the energy of a live show. The reality is that artists are not going to stop touring. They rely on live shows to support themselves and crews and to continue to make new music. Rather than eliminate live events, we need to find ways to reduce their negative environmental impacts.

Second, the climate emergency is affecting all life on Earth and the situation will continue to get worse if we don’t take immediate action. .  It doesn’t matter whether humans have caused it.  It only matters that humans have the ability to stop it, and to do that we need everyone. The music community is one of the most fun, creative and passionate communities on the planet, and The Big Climate Thing was created to provide a platform for that community to have a unified call to action on climate change.

We know there will be some people who feel that staging a live event to galvanize climate action is hypocritical. Many may wonder if an event that thousands of people travel to and many artists will fly to is in fact counterproductive. We get it.  For us, inaction is not an option and the positive impact of hopefully onboarding thousands of new climate voters and climate consumers far outweighs the lost opportunity of not doing it. When it comes to climate change, it’s go time. 

There is a well-known concept of an individual carbon footprint, which was introduced by a marketing agency working for British Petroleum (BP) in 2005.  The logic behind it was to shift the responsibility for climate change to the individual and away from the fossil fuel industry.  A lesser known concept is that of the Climate Shadow, which was conceived of by journalist Emma Pattee. The central premise of the Climate Shadow is that our “carbon footprints” don’t paint a full – and therefore accurate – picture of our true individual impact on the climate emergency.  A great example she gives is that a person who flies all over the world for work has a much larger footprint than someone who works from home in a modest city apartment. But, what if the person who flies regularly is a climate scientist conducting critical research to stop global warming and teaching about the dangers of climate change, and the second person is a marketer making climate change denial ads for fossil fuel companies.  In this case, who is really contributing more to the climate crisis?

The carbon footprint of The Big Climate Thing will be significant, and we have a plan to address it laid out below.  This includes mitigation strategies, innovation strategies and as a final backstop, offsetting emissions (including artist and fan travel).  Before proceeding with this event, we spent two years discussing the pros and cons of doing it vs. not doing it, not only from a sustainability standpoint, but also from an impact standpoint. We went on a listening tour with artists, managers, publicists, climate activists, climate scientists, policy makers, storytellers, and even indigenous leaders. The resounding response we got, which was universal, was YESSSSSS! We need this. This will help.

The Big Climate Thing is meant to be a gateway into the climate conversation (and action) for both artists and audiences. It’s not heavy on politics or science. It’s heavy on community-building and imagining a better world for ourselves and future generations.  The Big Climate Thing is about collective action and supporting one another to take the first step on a journey to live in balance with the totality of the natural world. 

We care about progress, not perfection.  We hope you will join us on this journey.

TBCT Sustainability Plan

We’ll be updating this plan as we go, continuing to search for ways to improve, so check back often.  We are all about transparency.

Partnership with REVERB

The Big Climate Thing is proud to partner with REVERB to reduce the environmental impact of our concert and increase the positive community impact!  REVERB is a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to empowering millions of individuals to take action toward a better future for people and the planet. 

We’re currently working with REVERB to develop a sustainability plan and will post it here soon.  Watch this space!

The Venue:

Forest Hills Stadium (FHS)  is one of our favorite venues in the world. It’s the largest outdoor permanent stadium in New York City. It’s large, yet intimate with amazing sight lines from around the venue. Artists love to perform at FHS!  But most importantly, it’s a 100 year-old pre-existing structure. From a sustainability standpoint, there’s nothing better than upcycling.

Since 2017, Forest Hills Stadium has partnered with REVERB to reduce the environmental footprint of shows at the venue while increasing community impact.

Key highlights:

Public Transportation

Audience travel can often account for 40% of an event Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

One reason we chose FHS for our event is that it is easily accessible by public transportation, and conversely it’s nearly impossible to find parking in the area.

Forest Hills Stadium is accessible by Subway (E, F, M, R), Bus (Q23, Q60, Q64, QM4, QM11, QM12, QM18, QM42, and QM44) and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR).

We highly recommend reading this study by Julie’s Bicycle.

Bring Your Own Refillable Bottle

Yes, you heard that right.  We strongly encourage you to bring your own refillable water bottle.  The only restrictions are that it has to be empty when you arrive and it cannot be made of glass.

Free Water Filling Stations

Since you brought your own bottle, you might as well stay hydrated!  We will provide free water filling stations.  (note:  water will also be available for purchase if you forget your bottle, but better to bring your own and not have to pay.)

Plastic Waste Reduction

single-use plastic water bottles and straws represent a large portion of waste generated at music venues. In an effort to reduce unnecessary waste, the venue has ELIMINATED these. 

Waste Management

FHS offers composting and recycling throughout the venue, along with traditional landfill receptacles.  These waste stations can be found backstage and front-of-house. The Big Climate Thing will staff these areas with waste sorting experts to make sure everything ends up in the right place.

More Sustainability initiatives at FHS:

The Forest Green Initiative

aims to reduce the environmental impact of our live events at Forest Hills Stadium. From front-of-house, backstage and behind the scenes, we are taking action to make our industry more environmentally sustainable.

Carbon Offset**

For the 2022 season, Forest Hills Stadium will be climate neutral with the goal of being climate positive. To accomplish this, we are supporting a carbon sequestration and wildlife protection project in Colorado that will neutralize significantly more carbon than we will generate during our ’22 season. While some emissions are inevitable due to the nature of the live music industry, we are actively working to minimize our environmental impact, and our current efforts already offset those inevitable emissions – but we don’t want to stop at neutral. 

Reusable Beverage Options

Reusable beverage options are sold throughout the stadium with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Reverb & local non-profit organizations! At concessions, we utilize a combination of rPET, Compostable & Aluminum packaging (ball cups) to reduce single-use plastics onsite.

Landfill Diversion

By practicing single stream recycling, guests can recycle with ease. our waste center sorts through all recyclables and ensures they follow the correct recycling journey.

Solar Powered Charging Stations 

Available to all guests.

Shipping Containers

The venue has  refurbished > 30 shipping container structures to support our venue’s infrastructure.

Shore Power

Shore power available for touring vehicles to reduce use of generator idling emissions.

FHS Garden

The venue is growing hot peppers in the backstage garden to be harvested for Small Axe Peppers hot sauce, who directly support local community gardens & gardeners. FHS is also growing mint & basil for their cocktail garnishes! 

Planet Reimagined 

Each year, Planet Reimagined awards the New Futures fellowships to students interested in academic research & advocacy to advance new solutions in sustainability. Through FHS’s partnership with Planet Reimagined, the venue is funding the 2022 fellowship & are eager to learn from this year’s fellows.

Working with Artists

We are working with artists to carbon map their participation in The Big Climate Thing.

We will present a set of recommendations and options that can be used on-site and throughout their future tours.

Merchandise

Everyone loves a nice concert T, but fast fashion (the rapid production of low quality garments  that get pumped quickly through stores in order to meet the latest and newest trends) is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions.  Every year, 85% of garments end up in the landfill.

In this spirit, The Big Climate Thing will be creating slow fashion activations at the  merchandise areas at Forest Hills Stadium, and will only be creating items for the show that are made from unused “remainders” and random unused inks.  By having random sizes, colors and styles, rather than consistent “perfect” garments, we’ll upcycling what already exists and potentially saving it from the landfill.

Artists may sell one item each of their own tour merchandise, and we are not involved in the production of these garments.

Concessions

We are working with the concessionaire to ensure that there will be plant-based options available at The Big Climate Thing.  We are also doing our best to eliminate plastic packaging and utensils, as well as other non-compostable items. Please note, this is a work in progress.

**Some “offsets” are better than others.  In general, we’re not fans of offsets because they are often used as substitutes for behavioral change, and many of them take decades to draw down carbon from the atmosphere. That being said, there are some we like, such as Native, Cool Effect and Tradewater. We’re also currently exploring direct air capture to permanently remove carbon from the air and store it deep in the ground where it will become rock.  This process is expensive but we prefer it.  Check back for updates on this.

Looking beyond The Big Climate Thing 2022…

Introducing The Big Climate Lab

The Big Climate Thing is launching a not-for-profit Innovation Studio that will leverage a network of hundreds of cutting-edge technology companies that compete to create and pilot solutions for decarbonising tours and festivals.

We will integrate these technologies at The Big Climate Thing events on an ongoing basis beginning in year two, and we will use our network to assist in a broader adoption across the festival and touring industries. 

Why this model?

We know climate change is a threat to the planet, and we strongly believe it’s also the biggest threat to the live events industry. The actions we take now to address it systemically, will determine the viability of all future live events.

We believe in the power of innovative thinking and responsible technology to solve hard problems. In order to leverage this power, research and development is essential. The Big Climate Lab will offset the cost of doing the R&D through a combination of not-for-profit donations and de-risked investments, as startups and larger companies compete to solve the problem of carbon intensive tours and live events.

The music industry has never been better positioned to lead consumer culture into a climate-challenged future — but if we wait to see what happens before taking action, it will already be too late.   The Big Climate Lab is a first-of-its-kind Innovation Studio designed to do just that.

The time for action is now.



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