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The decorations have all been taken down, the lovely gowns have been returned to the wardrobe and very soon this year’s May Balls will be a distant memory except, that is, in the case of the Clare May Ball where an inspiring precedent has been set in how to run an event in a more sustainable way.

The May Balls are one of the highest profile parts of the Cambridge experience, and before 2016 the environmental impact of these events was largely unknown. Clare College’s May Ball organising committee measured and reduced the event’s carbon emissions through a Green Impact Excellence Project and committee members organised a myriad of actions that would improve the event’s sustainability. All emissions were calculated and monitored throughout the process and any remaining emissions will be offset by investment in reforestation and renewable projects; making this year’s Clare May Ball the first to be carbon neutral.

Almost as important as its carbon neutral status is the fact that promoting sustainability within this event has never been at the expense of fun. Feedback since the event has shown that the sustainability focus added greatly to the attendees' experiences with some going as far as to say that it was the best ball they had been to!

The organising committee have always had an eye to the future when planning this event and have collected a large amount of data and information to help others organise similar sustainable events. Their learning will be condensed into a guide that will be available later this year. Publicising of this approach has resulted in one college in Oxford appointing a green officer for their May Ball and we hope there will be more to come in the future.