Small steps for a better (conference) Environment

GrUSP's intro intro

I’m not speaking about the (development) work-environment, where the themes such as inclusivity and diversity are the topics that we endorse and work on since our first steps.

I’m talking about the Environment itself, the one capitalized.

Conferences are for best or worst places where it is very easy to produce tons of trash. We were always aware of this and in the last five years with the and with we worked a little bit to reduce, where possible, the impact each conference has on the Environment.

We didn’t do something tremendous or disruptive but little by little, we changed our approach, and now we thought twice before to introduce something new.

Our approach is to leave speakers, sponsors, and attendees unaware of our activities. This will allow us to have more time to test them and choose what is sustainable for the conferences (as a matter of money but also our, limited, invested time).

T-Shirts and gadgets

It’s not a secret we (I in particular) love t-shirts. During the years we changed and tested new ways to produce them, and now we print them almost JIT (a week before) leaving us a minimal number of unused materials. We sell some of the available t-shirts, but we also donate, yearly, new t-shirts to a local center for immigrants. We are also testing (for 2020–2021’s conferences) new t-shirt producer to buy products with eco-friendly cotton and testing DTG printing.

When the t-shirts are not an option, but we need a gadget we look for something that is both useful and environment aware (i.e., not like a spinner wheel).

Since 2019 editions of major conferences we gift steel bottles to our speakers. And, for the same reason, we switched in the same event to glass bottles or a water tank with paper or compostable cups.

Cups, Bottles and Enfy, the diversity elephpants.

When the conference is over we gather all the remaining lanyard to reuse them in future (we choose to have the same lanyard design in all our events for this reason) and we do the same with the remaining TNT bags (already produced with recycled material). When possible, for budget or number, we avoid to distribute the TNT bags, or we provide cotton-recycled bags.

Three years ago, we dropped plastic badges’ holder to have a recycled carton printed badge. It’s less fancy, but it does its work.


Roll-ups are a necessary evil, those are in aluminum with PVC flags but we need them to fulfill our duties with the sponsors of the conference. In the last three years, we bought less than nine roll-ups for more than 15 conferences/year. We do recycle them printing only the PVC flags.

This year we also manage to recycle some of the PVC flags by giving them to a no-profit organization. It will produce small bags and accessories (maybe we will sell some of them in some 2020’s events).

Compile Time’s Beer & food

As many of you should already known, we do produce our own beer.

We did that to have a better product, follow all the supply chain and recycle bottles and KEGs, but there’s more. During the conferences happy hours, we apply a “refill as you want, only one plastic glass each attendee” rule.

compile time beer
Be friendly to the environment, please refill your cup. Don’t throw it away!

By this simple trick, in the last phpDay, we consumed 500 compostable cups instead of 2000 of the previous edition. Sadly glass was not an available choice of material, but we are working on it.

We also moved on compostable, biodegradable or real tableware and cutlery and to Km0 food supply chain (when possible).

Being proactive

CSSDAY 2020 will be our first conference that will plant trees! We created a special ticket we will devolve on to plant new trees. If the experiment runs as expected, we will extend it to all our conferences.

Next Steps

We are open to feedback and ideas. Just remember we are moving a little step at a time, testing its effectiveness and feasibility at least one time in each venue we are using before putting it in production.