5 ways TEDxSydney lead the way for sustainable events

John Treadgold

I used to love going to music festivals, but the sea of plastic bottles left behind always made me feel guilty. As I got older, conferences began to replace festivals, but I still couldn’t shake the frustration with so many plastic cups, the lack of recycling and the terrible coffee.

It was exciting to see that in 2019 TEDxSydney has taken this challenge head-on! The challenge of running a major event without ignoring sustainability.

Here’s a taste of the innovations and earthy products that came together to make this year’s event memorable, while also leaving a legacy that all in attendance can be proud of.


Eating sustainably

Food packaging

Don’t ask me how the TEDx Crew fed 5,000 people with delicious food, but they did it. And, it was all served in Bio-Pak boxes that will break down in landfill.

Being inspired is hungry work and I was salivating at the sight of Pepe Saya butter being on offer. Equally enticing was the packaging. The paper wrappers had been custom designed for the event to ensure it would break down, without leaving a wasteful legacy.


Water Stations

If you were present on the day, you may have also quenched your thirst at one of the Sydney Water or Meet PAT Water Refill Stations and Bubblers. With the support from our sustainable friends, we saved almost 2000, 600ml plastic water bottles from landfill and our environment.

O-Fountain – these heroes of hydration are reminding everybody about the joys of drinking from a fountain. This year Jeff McCann did a live painting session to make the fountains beautiful as well as practical.

Hydrating and inspiring!


Coffee cups

It’s a dangerous game arriving at a conference without having grabbed a coffee from your tried and tested barista. The fear of having to endure percolator coffee, or the dreaded instant, is too much to bear. At TEDxSydney, however, there’s nothing to fear.

The Little Marionette were on board and they had a veritable army of baristas manning the heads to get everyone caffeinated. Not only do they have an ethically sourced supply-chain, but they also used paper cups with an all-natural coating. A+ Installation


Speaking about sustainability…

Kim Graham Nye – plastic poo bombs

She was named one of Fortune Magazines “Top 10 Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs in America” and in 2015 the World Economic Forum named their new gCycle project– as one of the top five disruptive technologies leading the Circular Economy.

Her mission is to rid the world of nappies! These plastic-poo-bombs don’t break down and their legacy has the potential to be a nasty surprise for future generations.

She spoke about actions, solutions and options that we can all get involved with. Having kids is hard, but Kim showed us there’s some easy steps we can all take to avoid disposable nappies and shift to renewables in all facets of our lives.


Albert Wiggan – Aboriginal science

Talk of climate science depends on metrics and records that are barely 200 years old. There’s a clear trend towards warming, but what if we could access a record that went back thousands of years?

Albert Wiggan described the elaborate beauty of indigenous story-lines, of the science his people employed to understand their land and of the potential for all of us to learn from it.

He had the whole crowd transfixed with his passion, with his ideas and with his rejection of the culture of greed and the addiction to disposability that has engulfed this big, brown land.

In thanking TEDxSydney for their efforts in leading the way on sustainability, I’ll leave the final words to Albert.

“Legacy is the epitome of our culture. What we leave behind, it defines my people.”

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