In August of 2019 I was sitting around a campfire near Mt. St. Helens, a bit sore from carrying gallons of water uphill to an isolated water station for the Volcanic Trail Run. I sat there with other race directors, and we shared stories about past events. We also shared a few ideas about how to make our events more sustainable. (If you’re like me, the matter of compostable cups comes up in casual conversation.) I came away with a few new practices, and the big idea of sharing this kind of information on a broad scale. The light bulb had come on for what would become EDiSN.
We created the EDiSN web site, Facebook page and started sharing ideas. At the heart of the web site are the Best Practices (which are constantly being updated). By joining EDiSN event directors make a pledge to use these best practices. (We are in the process of applying for 501c3 status.)
Best practices cover a range of actions: choosing durable items instead of disposable ones, reducing waste through composting, facilitating and rewarding ride-sharing, and much more. Some of these best practices are universal across different events (e.g. assigning volunteers to help event participants put their waste in the correct bin). Some best practices require very specific (and frequently changing) information–e.g. what kind of cups to use, where to buy them and where to take them to be composted or recycled. These best practices require additional education—educating event directors, volunteers and participants on what to expect at events.
Each event has its own particular challenges for changing practices and changing the culture of environmental awareness. These changes are individual, like plogging (picking up litter while you’re running). These changes are organizational, with event directors committing to sustainability. These changes are systemic, with cities, counties, and waste management companies seeing the economic as well as environmental benefits.
What we do matters. It matters because when I look into the eyes of Avery and Simon, my grandchildren, I know that we need to give them the best world possible. Simon says “Make the pledge.” Simon says “Let’s make a difference.”