Greg Howell started his path towards environmental advocacy surfing along Victoria’s coastline in the early 1970’s. In 1989 he attended his first No Nukes Rally in Sydney, and then gave into the temptation of surfing in warmer waters of the Gold Coast in 1992, where his passion flourished, and he has been an environmental campaigner ever since.
Q: How did you get into the sustainability event space?
A: While participating and organising events for Surfrider I noticed the enormous amount of waste that was produced, so I began researching responsible events where the answers were found within Sustainable Event Management ISO 20121 developed for the London Olympics. It’s just about being responsible.
Q: When did you begin the consultancy?
A: I founded Climate Wave Enterprises in 2008, inspired by the simple changes I believed event organisers could make to minimise the impact of events on the environment. I currently work to promote the practices of sustainable event management, green supply chains and cutting edge sustainability knowledge to event organisers around Australia and overseas.
Q: Climate Wave has supported several local events on the Southern Gold Coast. What was the first event you partnered with here? And where has this led to?
A: Kirra SurfStock was the first largish scale event we partnered with in 2009, but we’d been working with sustainable actions during Surfrider Foundation events for years previously.
You can read more about the sustainable event initiatives here.
Local events we’ve worked with include SWELL Sculpture Festival, Bleach* Festival, Kirra Surf Stock – Surfing Lifestyle Festival and the Gold Coast Beach Soccer Championships.
Further afield we’ve partnered with the Earth Frequency Festival, Support Surfing Events to Go Green, Indonesian Surfing Championship Tour, Woodford Folk Festival, Unity Festival and Surfrider Foundation Golden Days Festival.
One of our most successful events was Wanderlust on the Sunshine Coast, where we achieved a diversion rate of 98% of waste away from landfill.
Q: As well as event partnerships, you also have your own Eco Challenge surfing events that you run. Tell us a bit about those.
A: Surfrider Foundation Eco Challenge was created on the Sunshine Coast in 2011 and, loving the idea, it was brought to the Gold Coast in 2014. The event is an annual family friendly, 100% solar powered, sustainable, community, surfing lifestyle fundraiser during the Bleach* Festival.
The sustainability components of Eco Challenge events include:
• Ride your bike and leave the car at home
• Buskers by the Sea stage – Powered by Southern Cross University Sunflower Solar Sound System
• Market and Food Stalls with sustainable products and services
• Roots of Surfing Wooden Surfboard Teams Challenge and Expression Session
• Plastique Fashion Show, highlighting the fun of recycling
• Inclusion of community socially and environmentally active organisations
• Single use plastic free
• Beach clean-up and Dune Care
• 4 bin monitored waste stations that include compostable and organic waste
As a legacy from the Surfrider Foundation Eco Challenge events, Climate Wave Enterprises instigated solar installations for non-profit organisations including Currumbin RSL’s Dune Café and Kawana Waters Surf Life Saving Club on the Sunshine Coast.
Q: What are some of the simple things event organisers – and event-goers – can do to ensure we have more sustainable events?
A: The major hurdle for event organisers is beginning. The best thing to do is start with one or two systems (for example waste and solar power) and once they are established, incorporate more. From there it’s an exciting and interesting journey to keep on the path towards sustainability.
For event-goers, we encourage them to use their feet, bums (on seats) and word of mouth to support local events and demand events make responsible changes that have positive implications for their communities.
Looking to the future also as a Director of Sustainable Event Alliance, Greg sees the valuable contribution that sustainable event management practices has on reducing our impacts and brings communities together.
Greg’s sights are set on a future that sees everyone taking responsibility for our actions and helping to create local legacies for the community.
To do his part, Greg is offering free advice for any Southern Gold Coast event to help them on their path towards sustainability. Call or email Greg 0414 939 942 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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