London’s Christmas horse show works to reduce environmental hoofprint

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The Shetland Grand National is one of the highlights of the London International Horse Show.
The Shetland Grand National is one of the highlights of the London International Horse Show. © LIHS/Kit Houghton

This year’s renewal of the London International Horse Show is making sustainability a top priority with organisers aiming to make the show as environmentally conscious as possible.

Previously held at Olympia, the December Christmas extravaganza has a new venue, ExCeL London, which is behind several initiatives to drive sustainability.

Show Director Simon Brooks‐Ward said it was important to organisers to ensure that the show had as little an environmental impact as possible. “We are lucky to be supported by a venue such as ExCeL whose fantastic infrastructure makes the job much easier, but we are still working to ensure that every aspect of the London International Horse Show is as sustainable as it can be – in every area from the office, to the stands and the stables.”

All of the venue’s electricity is already procured from renewable sources, and the gas supply is carbon offset using UN credits. To improve energy efficiency, lighting will be set to 50% during the build‐up and break-down of the Show. In 2007, ExCeL also joined the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest sustainability initiative.

There is a much greater range of sustainable food choices available as part of the venue’s catering offering, with caterers using a minimum of 80% British seasonal fruit and vegetables, with no produce transported by aircraft. Surplus food from several of ExCeL’s biggest events is donated to Community Food Enterprise, who distribute it to local projects around the London Borough of Newham.

The caterers are designing menus to ensure food waste is kept to a minimum, but if it does end up in the bin, it will have another life: ExCeL London is home to the UK’s largest commercial wormery, which houses more than 300,000 worms.

Food waste is fed in, and eight months later the team at ExCeL collects the compost, which is then used to fertilise the green spaces around the site. All used vegetable oil is collected from the site and turned into bio‐fuel.

The work of ExCeL London's 300,000 worms is used to fertilise the green spaces around the site.
The work of ExCeL London’s 300,000 worms is used to fertilise the green spaces around the site. © ExCeL London

Re‐using and recycling is key to the Show’s sustainability plan, with many of the elements of the build, such as the arena seating, scaffolding, carpets, furniture and the arena surface are stored and brought out again year after year.

The London International team also works with companies that specialise in recycling materials; for instance, the drapes that decorate the halls are recycled where possible, signage is packed away, and everything which can be repurposed or used again for the following show is stored safely. Even the manure from the stables is recycled; it is sent to a local farm for use on their fields.

The 2021 Show also aims to minimise the use of single‐use plastics. All catering outlets will offer the opportunity to fill up water bottles free of charge, and additional water stations are installed around the Show. Non‐recyclable packaging and single-use cutlery will be kept to a minimum, and catering outlets will be happy to fill reusable coffee cups and will even offer a discount for bringing your own.

Separate bins are available at the Show to encourage visitors to separate their waste, meaning that the Show can recycle more and minimise environmental impact.

The easiest way for visitors to reduce their environmental impact is to travel via London’s extensive network of public transport links. The venue is accessible by rail, cable car and bicycle, and the tube and Docklands Light Railway are the speediest way of getting across the capital to the venue.

The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment will perform a musical ride each day of the show.
The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment will perform a musical ride each day of the show. © LIHS/Kit Houghton

At the point of purchasing tickets, visitors are asked if they would like to donate to offset their carbon footprint created by travelling to the Show.

» More information on The London International Horse Show (December 16-20)

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