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20th January 2021
Have you ever wondered what the environmental impact of an event is?
Unfortunately, in most cases, the other side of the coin (behind the fun) is tons of garbage and so much waste!
Fortunately there is someone who has posed this problem and has identified a viable solution.
We are talking about Ecofesta, the voluntary certification born from the genius of three young Apulian: Roberto Paladini, Ilaria Calò and Loreta Ragone.
Their mission is "to transform the events into an occasion to raise the environmental awareness, through activities of waste differentiation, reduction of CO2 emissions and information about the green practices."
In this article we interview Ilaria Calò, one of the founders, to bring her direct testimony.
How did you come up with the idea?
It comes from the simple observation of the territory. When we were about 25 years old we had an association (Culturambiente Onlus), with wich we were active on environmental issues. At that time we loved going to events, such as festivals, concerts etc., which are very common in our territory, especially during the summer. What we saw, at the end of each event, was an apocalyptic scenario: waste everywhere, abandoned and mixed... And that’s how we came up with the idea; we thought about the impact of events on the environment. From that moment we started to study and deepen various management models, until we created our unique and original one.
What are the minimum requirements to consider an event as a sustainable one?
The minimum requirements are certainly to properly and wisely carry out the separate collection, use durable or disposable compostable tableware, to minimize the production of plastic, recover the organic fraction, reduce packaging, reducing CO2 emissions and engaging the public with active information.
The theme of sustainability is becoming increasingly popular these days. In your opinion, beyond theory, what are the most difficult aspects to deal with in the implementation of sustainable models? Speaking of your work, for example, what are the biggest obstacles you face?
Organizers very often need to be followed; they need a lot of training and assistance, and the public must be guided and directed. Unfortunately, if we do not follow the various stages of the event, we can not guarantee the success of the model. We think that the real obstacle is this.
In your opinion, what are the main innovations and/or actions to be implemented at local level in order to spread the culture of sustainable development? If you could appeal to the institutions, what would you ask them?
The main innovations/actions should be those that make the green behaviors spontaneous and natural, but unfortunately it is not like this. We ask the institutions economic incentives, tax and regulatory that really encourage good practices and the circular economy, and more and more training and awareness of all stakeholders interested in the organization of an event, such as organizers, suppliers and users.
Considering your experience, what are the main reasons why event organisers choose to apply for your certification?
Because they are followed and trust our skills and experience on more than 300 events in 9 years of activity. Their event is more beautiful and clean and we create a sort of "event in the event", entertaining and involving the public.
How do people react when they find out that they took part in an Ecofesta event? Is there any particular episode you would like to tell us?
There are many singular and nice episodes that made us reflect. What we expect is a simple change of habits: differentiating waste rather than throwing it all together. I remember the story of a tourist on holiday with us, if I’m not mistaken in the summer of 2013. We were working for a festival in a well-known seaside resort, where normally there was no separate collection (we always make agreements with waste companies, so that this happens during the events we manage). This tourist saws us, came and asked if she could give us the waste that she had produced during her stay here: she was used to do the separate collection and couldn’t really put everything in one bag. We said yes, of course. The tourist returned to the B & B where she stayed, took all the differentiated envelopes and returned to the ecological island of Ecofesta, satisfied... She could not stop thanking us! Here this example also denotes a simple change of habit.
Are you happy about the results achieved so far? Would you like to share your numbers?
Yes, we are very happy, but we want to do more and more and see our project continue to grow. So let’s give some numbers:
- nine years of activity on the territory;
- over 300 Apulian events, including major events such as La Notte della Taranta, Fiera del Levante and Medimex;
- Participation in events outside the region such as "A mountain of peace" in the province of Catanzaro and Puglia Village in Rome;
- more than 200 partners involved in Apulia (public administrations, associations, pro loco, cooperatives and companies);
- 160 tonnes of differentiable waste saved from landfill;
- 380,000 kWh of Green Energy produced;
- over 1.5 million biodegradable and compostable tableware used;
- More than 200 ecological informers trained in the Apulian territory.
We are sure that you are looking forward to getting back in the field. In the meantime, what are you doing in this stop period? Plans for the future?
Yes, we are absolutely looking forward to returning to action, in the meantime we are thinking of an evolution of Ecofesta... Ecofesta 2.0, from the local to the global, we are working on it in recent months and we hope to start again in 2021 with this great news, but we still can not reveal anything!
We are just curious to know the news that Ilaria just anticipated. It is a pleasure to talk with you about her experience, especially because we share a very important mission: combining fun and sustainability! The message we want to show off is that we can (and must) have fun, without sacrificing environmental protection! Do you agree?!
Help us to spread our mission: together we can do so much!
#Ecofesta #Busforfun #Wethefun #Wethegreen
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