z How we tried to reduce the environmental impact of TEDxTUM: Dive In | TEDxTUM

How we tried to reduce the environmental impact of TEDxTUM: Dive In

As we craft together our main event each year, we keep an eye turned toward sustainability. While we’re still far from reaching our destination, we took a lot of measures to create a greener, more eco-friendly event.

From the sponsors we’ve chosen to the ingredients in the food we’ve laid out, almost every aspect of the experience at TEDxTUM: Dive In was geared toward a lower carbon footprint.

We still have a long way to go, but we are really proud of what our team has accomplished this year. Feel free to contact us if you have ideas or suggestions on how we could improve further.

Goodies

We think, less can be more. Therefore, we focused on fewer, but high-quality goodies this year. Based on our team’s opinion what they would actually use, we bought metal straws with a TEDxTUM engraving. When it came to the goodie bag itself, we went for one that is made out of 100% recycled cotton.

While we know that smaller goodies like postcards and pens often go right into the trash or just end up in some drawer and are never used, we also realized that there are many people who actually like these kind of goodies. To make everyone happy, we offered smaller goodies at a designated goodie table where attendees could take the goodies they actually wanted to have. In the end, they ended up with their personal goodie bag containing all the mementos they wanted to take from the TEDxTUM event–nothing more, nothing less.

Goodie table (Photo taken by Maria Egorova, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Goodie bag (Photo taken by Maria Egorova, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Partners

Most of our partners are Munich-based which saves on carbon emissions from travel to the event and is also beneficial to the idea of highlighting good things going on in the local community.

Also, not only do we focus on high-quality goodies, we also expect the same dedication from our partners. We ask then to not include flyers in the goodie bags as they tend to be just thrown out afterwards. Instead, one of our partners contributed reusable water bottles and another one shopping bags for vegetables.

The sponsored water bottle (Photo taken by Maria Egorova, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The sponsored vegetable bag (Photo taken by TEDxTUM, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Food & Drinks

Going for a vegetarian lunch instead of offering vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, seemed like an easy way to reduce our carbon footprint. However, we didn’t just want to go with what everyone else says and assume that a vegetarian meal is more eco-friendly than a non-vegetarian option. Therefore, our operations team dove deep into the topic. Learn more about how they tackled this question in this related post.

To avoid unnecessary trash through empty bottles, we decided to only offer tap water and flavored syrup to spice things up. Luckily, reusable bottles were sponsored by one of our partners making this possible. 

In addition, we provided our own TEDxTUM coffee cups that attendees could get for a 2€ deposit–not only did that avoid a lot of trash through single-use coffee cups, we now also have these awesome TEDxTUM coffee cups to use in the future or for our attendees to take home as a nice souvenir.

TEDxTUM reusable coffee cups (Photo taken by Maria Egorova, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Vegetarian lunch (Photo taken by Maria Egorova, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Rent or Reuse

When it comes to furniture, we try to avoid buying our own things that are only used a few times a year and only take up storage space the rest of the time, and instead rent furniture from local companies or the TUM. 

Alternatively, we reuse everything as much as possible. So, if you ever recognize something at a TEDxTUM event that you have seen before, it’s not because we’re lazy or don’t have enough ideas, we’re just trying to be sustainable. 😉