Patagonia has been in the news. Why? For its groundbreaking decision to give away all of its non-voting stocks to an NGO that works to fight the climate crisis and protect nature. This news has brought back to the limelight the conversation of sustainability and corporate responsibility.
The events industry does not fall within what the EU Draft Directive calls a “high impact” sector, but I believe that irrespective of that label, we all have to move toward a collective climate crisis response. Without a sense of the changes we need to strive toward (yes some of us more so than others), it can be easy to keep repeating practices and norms that are harmful for the environment.
Inspired by the change in the air, the recent e-mobility conference that I hosted and my investment in sustainability, here are 3 things that I think might help the events industry to incorporate Sustainability into its practices.
- 1) Determine environmental impact:
There is a time and place for everything. Digital might be the right climate-based choice for some events whereas for some others, it might mean leaving a heftier environmental footprint. Imagine a small event of 10-15 people in a company that requires no external venue (and as such no additional electricity consumption), makes no use of digital apps or devices during the event/meeting and does not get any supply from non-local chains (this could be food or any other thing that events often can outsource), and you can see the sense of not making an event like this be digital. Compare this to a large event that wants to fly in people from different countries, use supply chains that might be environmentally costly, and leave an overall heavy physical and digital footprint and it can make sense to consider going digital for such events. There is no quick answer and the logistics would need to be considered to determine the right mode for the event: physical, digital or phygital.
- 2) Consider partnering up:
Many are just new to this and in metaphoric deep waters. It might be easy to say that you want to contribute toward the worthwhile effort of creating sustainable events, but how can we do that? According to an article by Skift Meetings, a report released by Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and Cvent indicates that the event industry is lagging behind on taking concrete action toward sustainability. A way to counter this could be to take help from companies like Science Based Target (that works to help businesses set scientifically-based targets to reduce emissions) or Carbon Disclosure Project (that evaluates event venues and vendors) or choose venues, suppliers, vendors who you know to be invested in sustainable business practices.
- 3) Make your gifts eco-friendly:
How many speakers or attendees end up using the pens or mugs or t-shirts that an event hands over to them as gifts? Sure, it’s nice to give nice products in a gift bag, but it’s nicer if those products do not end up in the landfills. A thought would be to either start gifting e-vouchers to topics or services directly related to the event or to gift unconventional and ecologically sensible items like journals made out of reused paper, reusable bags, seed bombs, etc. Some events already use a couple of these ideas but the industry as a whole can move toward this kind of an approach.
There are many other ways that we can move toward becoming a more ecologically minded industry. These were just a few of the simple practices that we can start incorporating, but there really is no end to the methods or approaches. I look forward to seeing this conversation becoming louder and our industry overall becoming more action-oriented on this front.