Churchill May Ball has made every effort to ensure that this event is sustainable as can be, although we recognise that any event will have some negative impact on the climate. This page collects information on the assessment of our impact and the actions we have taken to mitigate this.

We have focused our efforts entirely on reduction of emissions, because this will be the main damage caused by the ball. If you would like to raise any concerns or suggestions we would gratefully welcome feedback at


Did the last Churchill May Ball earn the Sustain-a-ball award?

No. Two years ago, Churchill May Ball was not signed up to the award. This year, we are participating in the scheme.

Is anyone on your committee responsible for sustainability?

Yes! I (David) am taking responsibility for sustainability along with health and safety and accessibility. We haven't allocated any of the budget specifically for sustainability, but the entire committee is committed to this cause and we have made administrative decisions based on this.

What is Sustain-a-Ball?

This is an audited accreditation for May Balls run by a student body in Cambridge. The scheme involves attending meetings and meeting a set of audited standards, with participating balls receiving an award after the event. There's not much info online on this, but if you're interested, contact us, or the facilitators here: [email protected].

Are your suppliers sourced locally?

Yes! We've made every effort to source local suppliers. We can't yet reveal our exact suppliers as these are subject to change, but all but two are from the Cambridge area. That said, transport is only a very small amount of the emissions caused from food (

Why are you using disposable cups and food containers?

This is a health and safety precaution. Some of the entertainment will involve dancing or raving and we cannot risk a dropped glass here being responsible for an injury. We don't expect that disposable items will be a significant proportion of our carbon footprint (see the last section for more information), but reducing waste is useful for other reasons. Please try not to excessively use disposable items at the ball.

What will you do with any leftover food?

We don't expect to have any leftover hot food or meals, although we will confirm this before the event. Any leftover wrapped treats we have will be reused by college or donated to a foodbank.

Will you have fireworks at the event?

Yes, possibly. If we do, we'll assess the environmental impact and try and reduce it where possible. Given, that any pyrotechnics will be viewed by all the people attending the ball, we don't anticipate that this will be a significant contributor to our overall environmental footprint. Additionally, we will alert the surrounding residents.

Will there be energy intensive rides?

We don't expect so. There will be lots of non-musical entertainment, but many of these are naturally energy efficient. Regardless, energy will be a small proportion of our overall footprint (see the next section).

Have you questioned your suppliers on sustainable transport?

We're in the process of doing this. We hope that this will incentivise our own suppliers to think more about their logistical processes as well as improving our own information on the footprint this event will have. If it is clear that a supplier is not committed to reducing their footprint or are very geographically remote, we may consider using a different supplier.

Why are you using water bottles instead of fountains?

Churchill doesn't have any water fountains and the bars won't be sufficiently near a tap to provide tap water. This was seen as the best trade-off to ensure all guests remain hydrated and that there are no queues. I'm in the process of looking into whether some existing taps can be used as refillable water stations.

Are you donating any money to charity?

Yes, this year we are supporting Jimmy's Cambridge - a homelessness charity providing support and housing for those who are rough sleeping. More information is available when buying a ticket.

Will the temporary toilets be compostable or chemical?

We are arranging temporary toilets for the events because the previous committee received feedback at the last ball that there were queues for the toilets. After considering the categorised emissions of such a purchase, we decided that the majority of the footprint associated would come from the transport of the toilets to the event. Therefore, we have prioritised this and the toilets will be chemical.

What bins will be available at the May Ball?

Waste management is being handled by our porter team and waste bins will be available at least for recyclable waste and general waste. I am in discussions as to whether they will be available for food waste. This waste will be placed in compactors we keep on site.

What can I do to help make this event more sustainable?

See the next section for a full insight into what the most emissive parts of the ball will be. Based on this, the best things you can do are the following, in order of importance:

Carbon Emissions

Here is a very approximate rundown of all the emissions involved in the running of this event. This is a very rough approximation, created in about 3 hours with extensive usage of AI. As such, it should only be used to get a feel for the emissions of the event, and not for any critical calculations.

I'll put all the information behind this approximation online after the event, but it does contain some confidential information, so I cannot put it on the website. If you are interested, please email me at

For some contexts, the total emissions of the ball are 28,000kg, which is roughly 28kg per person in attendance. That's equivalent to driving about 70 miles in a car, or watching around 500 hours of YouTube. This is also the average person's emissions for about 2 days.

These emissions will be a lot higher for anyone flying to the event. We do not expect many people to fly specifically for this event, but if so a single flight could emit 1000kg of carbon per person. Meat is also about twice as emissive as eating only vegetarian options, so this would reduce your carbon footprint also. (Obviously, all food at the event will be eaten, but the demand for different foods will influence decisions taken at subsequent events). Finally, the carbon emissions of alcohol are high which is responsible for the large amount of emissions from drinks.

A graph showing the emissions of the ball

  1. Food Suppliers: ~3,300 kg CO2e
    • Production and Sourcing: Includes emissions from meal production and local sourcing.
  2. Drinks: ~4,700 kg CO2e
    • Production and Sourcing: Emissions from beverage production and transport to the venue.
  3. Disposable Waste: ~100 kg CO2e
    • Manufacturing: Emissions from producing disposables.
  4. Energy and Lighting: ~25 kg CO2e
    • Usage: Based on electricity consumption for sound and lighting.
  5. Pyrotechnics: ~630 kg CO2e
    • Combustion: Emissions from fireworks combustion.
  6. Toilets (1+1 Toilet Trailer): ~410 kg CO2e
    • Transport: ~370 kg CO2e for transporting the trailer.
    • Chemicals and Water Usage: ~40 kg CO2e for chemicals and water.
  7. Art and Dec: ~300 kg CO2e
    • Materials and Transport: Emissions from material production and transport.
    • Disposal: Reduced emissions through recycling.
  8. Entertainment (Ents): ~390 kg CO2e
    • Performer Travel: Emissions from performer travel, including air travel.
    • Equipment Use: Emissions from entertainment equipment usage.
  9. Guests Accommodation and Travel: ~14,800 kg CO2e
    • Local Travel: Short-distance travel emissions.
    • Far Travel by Land: Long-distance land travel emissions.
    • Air Travel: Flight emissions.
    • Accommodation: Hotel stay emissions.
  10. Staff and Security Transport: ~260 kg CO2e
    • Local Staff Travel: ~60 kg CO2e for local staff travel.
    • Security Team Travel: ~200 kg CO2e for security team travel.
  11. Fencing (Hired): ~570 kg CO2e
    • Material (Reduced for Hired): ~500 kg CO2e, reduced due to hiring.
    • Transport: ~70 kg CO2e for transportation.
  12. Costumes: ~2,200 kg CO2e
    • Production: Emissions from costume production.
Total Revised Carbon Footprint: ~28,000 kg CO2e