How sustainable are your events?
We might find climate change deniers from time to time, but rarely we meet people who deny the environmental issues the world is facing. It goes from ocean plastic pollution and unsustainable fishing to polluted cities.
In the event business, there are a few factors which define the level of sustainability of an event. The most impacting one should be no surprise to anyone: location.
Defining the location is naturally one of the first steps to be taken. Location might be the difference between a very sustainable and a much less sustainable event. Transportation will be a key factor.
Transportation will highly impact the level of greenhouse gas emissions such as CO2. Long distance flights are the worst option given that mostly fossil fuels are being used. A customer located in Stockholm might pick a central city location and issue only a few kilos of CO2 with the transport of 100 people. If Barcelona should be the chosen location, over 74 tons of CO2 will be the flight emissions for 100 people (unless aviation fossil free fuel is used).
Suppliers involved will also have a high impact. There is today a huge gap between similar suppliers on how they work with sustainability. Electricity, food, consumables and social sustainability are some of the elements to be taken into account. Hotels, venues and restaurants which are working seriously on sustainability will be prioritized in case of competition. Hotel overnight CO2 emissions are different for every country. It depends on what type of electricity it is used, where the food comes from, cleaning products, etc. The CO2 emissions per night per guest vary between 1kg (some hotels in Sweden) and 30kg/person/night (average for hotels in Barcelona). By choosing sustainable suppliers one will naturally make the events more sustainable.
What about content? How can an event be more sustainable from the content perspective? It all depends on the event. In many cases one can always throw in a sustainability speaker to inspire every individual to be more sustainable. If activities are involved, pick physical activities before the old motor sport ones. Kayaking is not only a healthy activity, but it comes with no CO2 emissions.
There are also some more basic and well-known factors which will influence the level of sustainability of an event:
- Reduce, re-use and recycle. A golden rule which can be applicable by everyone, every day!
- Go for fossil free fuels! Today it is possible to fly fossil free or to delivery goods using biofuels.
- Avoid single use items, especially plastic.
- Make sure all waste gets recycled.
- Avoid red meat and if possible, make a vegetarian day or meal.
- Keep a good control of the number of participants and inform the hotel or restaurant. It is a good way to avoid waste.
- Apply digital solutions to communicate with participants.
Once you got all the above in place, it is time to review the agenda and make what we call sustainability analysis. Each point in the agenda should be analyzed, CO2 emissions to be identified and mitigated. The customer will see the initial event footprint, take decisions which will mitigate those emissions and have the option to climate compensate for the inevitable ones.
To go climate neutral or have a low event footprint is very appreciated by employees, customers, investors or anyone else living on this planet! Welcome to the new event world!
Article by Vianei Hermes – Climate First