Live events bring people together. They connect, educate and inspire. They can change a culture. However, they also have sustainability challenges.
Although it might seem tempting to believe that virtualization solves sustainability issues in events, this would be a mistake. There is another way. If you integrate sustainability into events, it can not only help a business meet its emissions goals but can also increase a brand’s eco credentials in a crucial touchpoint.
We want to convey one message: It doesn’t need to be difficult, and it’s smart and right. Here are the facts:
• Strategy is everything
The belief that corporations must reduce carbon emissions, produce less waste, and use fewer resources to save the earth is driving a shift in event design. There is also a growing awareness about the importance of strengthening communities and looking after our health.
This means that brands must ensure their events are strategically strong. An event that doesn’t achieve brand goals is not sustainable.
• Consider your event ‘in the round’.
Events can be complex and multifaceted. It is important to take a holistic look at all the players involved in an event, such as every supplier, hotel or restaurant. This level of detail must not be ignored. Start conversations with your supply chain partners and other stakeholders. Offering vegan food from local suppliers can lead to significant sustainability improvements. This can lead to huge carbon savings.
• Location and venue selection is a great place to start
Many venues have active sustainability policies. Please find out how they source energy or dispose of their waste. Location is equally important. Knowing how easy it is to get to a venue via public transport is important. This will lead people to drive long distances. It is important to inquire whether a venue can incorporate virtual elements to create a hybrid experience that appeals to those who don’t want to travel.
• Incorporate circular economy principles
Equipment, consumables, utility providers, sustainable materials for production, merchandise, print, and packaging should all be considered. You should reduce waste and eliminate single-use materials. Easy wins include carbon offset and recyclable packaging, and plastic substitutes.
• Make sustainability part of your wider brand strategy for communications
This topic should be discussed and engaged. Ask questions about sustainability, gauge views, and measure metrics. Invite your guests to join the discussion, encouraging greater participation and action. Communication is essential for creating immersive experiences that reflect and promote brand values and associated sustainability goals. This can be done in various communication pieces, from a single piece of comms to a complete communication strategy for all event stakeholders.
• Aim to be an early adopter, and don’t be complacent
Companies, employees, society, and consumers must be aware of sustainability’s importance. Although sustainability may not be on your plan, it is a trend that will change the world and offer an opportunity to lead and be a leader. It can keep you relevant. People are increasingly interested in your sustainability credentials. However, this trend will only intensify over time, and companies will be subject to greater pressure to prove their efforts.
The overall goal was to reduce the environmental impact of this project, with a special emphasis on eliminating plastic waste.
• Applying a new lens to events and experiences
Today, it is crucial that brands reflect sustainability values and embed sustainability goals across all touch points. They can set the standard for excellence and create a constantly improving culture.
Being sustainable can be a wonderful addition to events and activations. It can also become an integral part of the messaging and help promote positive brand values.
While not every event will be sustainable, the goal should be to make sustainability an integral part of the experience. A coffee bar could offer non-dairy milk, and a barista to create unique drinks for the event. Instead of serving a vegan menu at your event, you can opt for the local vegan. Our research shows that chefs love being challenged creatively, such as using regional ingredients. This can lead to advocacy and differentiation.
This is how brands can do event design, plan and activate them to meet sustainability goals. It’s also possible to deliver amazing experiences for attendees. It’s crucial to be original and creative in any activation. Events can act as powerful agents of change. Push the boundaries of what you think possible and create amazing experiences that benefit humanity and the planet. We must not be normal.