Steve Scott, senior operations director at marketing services and representation agency Wasserman, gives his tips for greener events
This year, for the first time in the festival’s history, Glastonbury has banned the sale of single-use plastic bottles. It’s the latest move Glasto has made, and it’s a clear indication of where the future of the events industry is heading.
There is growing consumer demand, across many sectors, for more environmentally-conscious behaviour from brands, with recent research revealing that 88% of consumers expect brands to actively promote sustainable lifestyles and behaviours.
With this in mind, it’s easy to see why event and festival organisers are becoming increasingly conscious about their impact on the environment.
Working in the thick of it at Wasserman, I have seen first-hand what you need to do to reduce your impact on the environment. Here are my top tips for event organisers who are looking to green up their act…
1 Think about your carbon footprint
This can be the most environmentally damaging part of your operation, especially when it comes to managing and delivering global events. You need to reduce your footprint by cutting out unnecessary travel, both for your equipment and attendees wherever possible.
This means booking in international video calls, wherever a meeting can be done virtually. And it means working with local partners to cut down on the number of people who need to be transported – both when it comes to your event staff, as well as the operations team.
You should encourage attendees to travel to the event by public transport, and provide facilitates for attendees travelling by bike.
One of the most successful changes you can make to your operation is to avoid flying over materials and kits for your events, when you can ship them instead. It requires planning, given the time it takes to ship anything, but it can pay dividends when it comes to reducing your damage on the environment. You should also look to group deliveries as much as possible.
2. Choose your materials carefully
You need to select products and materials from suppliers who can demonstrate responsible sourcing credentials, and, wherever feasible, you need to work with these partners to set targets for the amount of materials and food that must be sourced locally.
There is a common misconception that impressive events require the use of materials which are highly damaging for the environment. This is simply not the case.
This summer Wasserman is activating a partnership between BMW i and the National Trust, called the ‘Create with Nature’ roadshow. It’s a series of workshops which shows visitors to National Trust places how they can make use of natural materials. It’s to promote awareness of the BMW i3, a fully electric vehicle that is 85% recyclable at the end of its life.
This focus on sustainable materials transferred to our workshop structure, a refitted shipping container. We worked closely with our key suppliers to ensure all parts of our production process and materials used aligned with the sustainable focus of the BMW i3.
The activation has been a great success with visitors so far, and it shows how you can be sustainable without sacrificing on spectacle.
3. Waste not, want not
On all projects, you should follow the likes of Glastonbury, and develop an on-site waste management system.
This system should seek to reduce your impact, by identifying areas where the design may cause undue waste, and it should encourage you to rent and reuse existing materials wherever possible, like timber or specific event assets.
All projects should also set up segregated recycling facilities for the major waste streams. This will maximise your recycling opportunities and minimise the amount of waste going into landfill.
4. It’s not just about appearing sustainable, it’s delivering it as well
In a bid to appease the increasingly eco-conscious consumer, event providers are often guilty of presenting the appearance of sustainability, without backing it up with best, eco-friendly practices.
When it comes to delivering sustainable events and activations, you need to think about the long term impact of the events you deliver. You need to work with event partners to have strong measurement strategies in place which will tell you where the holes are in your operation.
It’s not going to happen overnight, but, with proper planning and small, yet pivotal, changes to operations, the events industry can boost its sustainability credentials. With increasingly eco-conscious brands and consumers, this move will not just be good for the environment, it’ll be good for business as well.