Hire, don’t buy: A mantra for a green Year of Culture

Posted Leeds 2023

Children’s Day: Reimagined was a testament to responsible event management.

The beauty of sustainable thinking is its harmony with innovation. A stellar example is “Children’s Day: Reimagined”, one of LEEDS 2023’s events. Set against the backdrop of Soldiers Field, Roundhay Park in Leeds, this event wasn’t just a celebration of the city’s children, but also a testament to responsible event management.

At the heart of the sustainability strategy for Children’s Day was a simple but impactful mantra: “Hire, don’t buy”. Moreover, the creative minds behind the event took this a step further, seeking to “interrupt” materials on their journey, temporarily diverting them from their intended path to serve a novel purpose.

One could argue that the seating was among the day’s main attractions. Instead of conventional chairs or benches, the seating was an ongoing construction project throughout the event. Children got a chance to build using “found” material, sourced diligently by the production team from across the city. From reclamation yards to recycling centres, the team gathered diverse materials, including tyres, reclaimed pallet wood, and plastic crates.

Eco-friendliness extended to the event’s power sources as well. Like the opening LEEDS 2023 event, “The Awakening,” generators fuelled by Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil provided power to the site. Adding to this, a state-of-the-art solar panel and battery unit silently powered backstage operations, emphasising the commitment to green energy.

"At the heart of the sustainability strategy was a simple but impactful mantra: Hire, don't buy"
Jamie Saye, SAIL

Post-event, the sustainable narrative continued. Materials hired were returned, ensuring minimal waste. Tyres journeyed back to the recycling centre, reclaimed wood found a new purpose at Leeds Wood Recycling, and many items were stored for future LEEDS 2023 productions. Even the 1,000 aerated concrete bricks procured for the event didn’t go to waste. After a simple online advertisement, local builders flocked to reclaim these bricks, ensuring every element of the event continued on its journey or found a new purpose.

In essence, “Children’s Day: Reimagined” was more than an event; it was a message to Leeds’ younger generation and the world: sustainability isn’t a sacrifice; it’s an opportunity to innovate and reimagine a greener, more connected future.

Jamie Saye
Co-founder and Director