Event organisers go through great strides to think outside the box on how to be ‘green’, they have loads of press releases about how they’ve ‘greened’ the event and people who attend have a warm fuzzy feeling that they are being green. However, it isn’t long before people choose convenience over reading by putting plastic in the closest bin rather than the designated one. While some people go the whole nine yards on recycling, being sustainable and buying only organic, the mass of society is still interested in instant gratification, convenience and having a comfortable lifestyle.
The cities of South Africa had a lot of good ideas on how to green the World Cup, but can society implement the concepts and actually stick with the plan. Being ‘green’ might be trendy, but another current trend happening right now is displaying country flags on cars and blowing vuvulezas.
Flags stuck on cars show our pride for our countries, but there is a reason Cape Town is known as the Cape of Storms. Already a few have found their way to the gutters and trees on the side of the roads. The question is also even if the flags hold on through the winter, will they still be used after the hype is over, or will our cities dumps and waste piles be decorated with cocktail flags. Then there are the vuvulezas; regardless of the obvious flaws, with noise pollution and the amount of plastic which has been used to create them, where will these plastic creations of chaos be dumped after the game?
Before the World Cup even started, there were (and still are) issues about what we are going to do with the stadiums after the event. While the stadiums are built with sustainability in mind, the idea of them not being used ever again isn’t sustainable, considering that the definition of sustainable is ‘Capable of being continued with minimal long-term effect on the environment.’
There are two large ‘green’ projects that have been focused on for the event. These projects, along with others, were funded by the Global Environment Fund, who donated US$ 1 million. The first was to green all the lightening in and around the stadiums with solar panels. 12 billboards, along with 60 traffic lights and 78 streetlights will switch to solar power.
The second is the Green Passport, an initiative to encourage visitor’s to make ‘green’ choices while in the country. The Green Passport is a 32 page booklet that will be distributed to 100, 000 World Cup spectators. Work it out – that’s 320 0000 pages of paper being distributed to spectators who are there to watch a game. Think about what you do when you get a pamphlet while waiting at the traffic light, or an event programme at a conference.
Hopefully the event co-organisers put the “paper” bin in a convenient spot else they might find themselves neighbours to the lost flags.