The Need for Event Greening and the Sustainability Trend
Justin Hawes, co-founder of EGF, highlighted the fact that the combined elements involved in putting on an event – including transport, catering and materials – make it one of the most wasteful industries around.
Grace Stead, also co-founder of EGF, explained that sustainability is rapidly becoming a common strategic goal regardless of the sector and events need to ensure they are keeping up with the trend. She spoke of the need for green events to balance the interests of the client with those of the community and the environment, in the most economically responsible manner. And she highlighted the importance of measuring the impact of events, because if it can be measured it can be managed. In her talk, Grace provide an excellent framework for how to do this.
Circular Systems and Thinking
Cathering described how we currently operate in a predominantly linear, Take-Make-Dispose model, in the events industry and otherwise. Businesses and individuals subscribe to a throw-away mentality leading to a depletion of resources and an ever-expanding waste problem. When it comes to events, here in South Africa, we have real, practical solutions for the potentially huge waste problem that events can create. The solution, as outlined by Cathering, is to move to circular, closed-loop systems and thinking. Within a circular system waste becomes a resource that can be used as a raw material in the same system.
For events, a great example is using compostable food packaging instead of plastic and polystyrene alternatives.
It doesn’t stop there though, events need to ensure that the products and materials are disposed of correctly. GREEN HOME works closely with the likes of Postwink, who provide bins to separate waste at source, and Y-Waste, who collect and compost organic waste and provide recycling solutions. The right partners are essential.
Lastly, Catherine suggests that because sustainability is such a growing consumer and corporate trend, it’s important to realize the full return on investment from the implementation of a circular procurement and supplier policy. This can be done by ensuring your marketing team is promoting your efforts so that your potential target market is aware of what you are doing.