The Green Room

I help nightclubs be sustainable. AMA


Hello! My name is Hadi Ahmadzadeh and I am the founder of sustainable nightlife company ecodisco. My expertise is mainly in implementing reusable cup systems and eradicating single-use waste from music venues and events. Ecodisco is based in London, UK and our goal is to eradicate single-use culture and ghg emissions from the UK nightlife scene. Our primary focus is on urban nightlife but we also work with festivals and other one-off events.

My passion for sustainable nightlife emerged when throwing parties in South London. I felt that the waste produced by the events contradicted all of the positive elements that we all enjoy so much. I launched ecodisco as London’s first commercial club night to remove single-use plastics and in early 2020 converted it into a sustainable nightlife consultancy.

This will be a great chance to ask Hadi all of your burning questions and find out more about the fantastic work he does.

We hope to see you here Tuesday 3rd August at 12pm!

You’ll need to sign up to the forum to take part. Once you have signed up, add this event to your calendar by clicking the three dots in the invitation above.

Hi Hadi,
Looking forward to you answering questions on Tuesday! How busy are nightclubs post-COVID and how much is sustainability on the radar for nightlife organisers?

Hi Hadi,
Thank you for joining us!
Would you say that more well known and established clubs are eager to make the change when it comes to hosting a more sustainable event or are the smaller, independent clubs more willing?
Would universities be suitable clients?

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Hi everyone! It has been extremely unpredictable since nightclubs re-opened as different promoters/venues are experiencing different impacts depending on their audiences. Many people are unable to risk self-isolation or catching covid due to commitments at work or elsewhere whilst others don’t have this obstacle. This predictable manifests as a very young crowd so certain venues and events that tailor to younger crowds are doing extremely well, whilst others may be struggling.

Sustainability I think is always on the radar for nightlife organisers but it is an extremely difficult nut to crack. They need people to come to them with solutions rather than demands or questions. This is what we are trying to achieve at ecodisco and so far our approach is being received pretty well.

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Hi Jane,
Thanks for your question! I think that almost every venue is eager to make progressive changes to the way they run events, but budget and resource are often major obstacles. The larger, established clubs have more budget and resource but they are also often looked after by huge corporations that are surrounded by red tape. It can be very difficult to provide solutions for the larger events and venues whereas with smaller, grass roots spaces you just have to make sure the numbers work and then you can get on with it! Long-story short, everyone wants to make these changes but they have to be made as easy as possible regardless of the stature of the venue.

Universities would definitely be suitable clients for this system and for sure a market we will explore as we grow.

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Hi Hadi, Great to have you with us today! Where can we start in making nightlife more sustainable?

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Thanks Hannah,

I don’t think there is any single starting point. For me it was the problem of single-use cups because I looked at the linear cycle of beverage service and couldn’t believe how badly designed it was. I am now committed to replacing this with a circular system. Someone with a more interesting brain than me might look at the lighting in the venue or the fridges or the empty space on the roof where solar panels could be fitted. Whilst eradicating single-use culture is crucial to reducing both ghg emissions and plastic pollution, we also have to eliminate the more direct emissions from venues and events. The solutions to these problems come from innovators seeing a system that can be improved and then pushing to change it. Innovation inspires innovation and the more people who accept the challenge and make the changes, however small, the bigger the snowball effect!

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That’s amazing that all clubs are willing to participate! What would you say is the biggest challenge you have come across so far in terms of finding a sustainable option? Are there any aspects to the club night life where there are no alternatives?

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Thanks Hadi! How can we make audiences more aware of their environmental impact?

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Hi Hadi, I’ve found that some bars are using paper straws for their drinks, which go a bit soggy and are not that pleasant to use. Are there any alternatives?

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Hi Hadi, do you think it’s a problem that increased outdoor seating in bars and nightclubs might lead to more outdoor heaters in the autumn and winter? Will that affect their sustainability performance?

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Hi Jonny,

The worst part is the paper straws aren’t even recyclable and have a pretty high carbon footprint! My favourite replacement are wheat stem straws. These are a bit fragile if you squeeze them too hard but very elegant and don’t go soggy, also 100% natural. Other than that there are pasta straws and reusable bamboo, though our stance is always to remove straws all together if possible.

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I think that this is definitely a problem and a difficult one to solve in the colder months. I think the best thing we can do as an industry is register our venues to renewable energy companies and push for the shift to renewable power. Some venues (eg: Village Underground) have been able to install their own solar panels which is a fantastic approach.

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Hi Hadi,
Great AMA! What is the most exciting project that you have worked on involving making nightlife more sustainable? And how did it come about?

Also, do you think there is a difference in attitudes towards sustainability in nightlife across the country? And in nightclubs that target different ages? Are the independents or the chains more interested in this issue?

Hi Hannah,

It’s a tricky one in the nightlife sector as the whole industry is built to provide an escape for people. We don’t want to burden our customers with the existential crisis of climate change whilst they are trying to dance and forget about all of their problems, but we do rely on the receptiveness of the crowd to implement effective system. Also we all know that consumer demand is listened too, and is therefore a crucial tool to harness. Our approach is to encourage behaviour change through humour and light-hearted encouragement. We do this through artwork, some of which can be seen on our website or on our latest instagram post @ecodisco_

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That is great from Village Underground! Increased ventilation to make venues COVID-safe is potentially an issue as well so the faster the industry switches to renewables, the better!

Hi Jane,

Travel is a major issue. Bringing exciting DJs from all over the world is a big part of the industry and unsurprisingly helps to sell tickets. Also festivals in remote places of natural beauty (on the coast, up a mountain, in the alps) are often the most popular. This leads to obvious issues where offsetting is often seen as the only solution. There is a lot of work to be done here (eg: reprogramming tours to remove short-haul planes and encourage trains. Festivals hiring out trains to bring their audience etc etc) but it is difficult. In terms of nightclubs, a big obstacle is the suppliers of food and drink. You can ensure that all the service-wear in your venue is sustainable but your produce is often wrapped in loads of plastic and tape and has been delivered from all over the world. Making more conscious decisions on suppliers is a luxury for those with healthy margins and there aren’t many in the events industry at the moment. One good case study for a venue trying to tick all the boxes is the new YTL Arena in Bristol. More of a ‘complex’ than a nightclub but still interesting.

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Hi Hadi, How can we overcome the issue of nightclub flyers? Are there any sustainable alternatives?

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Hey Hadi, great session!

I was just wondering how the drinks in clubs and bars could be more sustainable?
Do you offer alcohol from sustainable drinks brands or if not, would you be willing to?

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I think the most exciting project is still our ecodisco launch party back in June 2019. This was an event that I put together to raise awareness on the lack of sustainable solutions to single-use products at commercial club nights. We ran a reusable cup system with steel cups and fabric lanyards and pushed a successful PR campaign to show that we CAN party without (single-use) plastic. We ended up on BBC News and a host of other media channels. It was this party that led to ecodisco becoming a sustainable nightlife consultancy.

There is definitely different attitudes to everything across the UK! We ran focus groups earlier this year with ravers and venue/event staff and it was really interesting listening to the different perspectives. Certain cities have much more of a cultural identity surrounding sustainable development whereas others will be less interested. I think there is interest across the board but the motivation for this interest differs everywhere. Some just don’t want to be left behind and will do what they think seems like the correct next step, others truly hate the amount of waste they produce and are passionate about going the extra mile whilst others will be seeking a strong PR angle. For us the motivation is irrelevant, as long as there is an appetite to introduce systems that reduce environmental impact across the industry then we are happy :slight_smile:

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