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Is this sustainable?

Inspired by recent Anything Is Possible Podcasts, where Holly, our CEO, chatted at length to BOL Foods founder, Paul Brown, and to Amanda Thompson, founder of Noughty Wines, we wanted to continue to explore the shared theme of sustainability.

As our world becomes more conscious of the impact of human activities on the environment, sustainability has become a global conversation in all industries. The events industry is no exception. By prioritising sustainability in event planning and management, we can reduce this impact and contribute to a more sustainable future.  But while we know this, we continue to make mistakes.  

While human error is to be expected, it is important to say what we see and ask important questions about the way we do things.  We encourage us all within the events sector to be critical friends.  Without having such friends our mistakes won’t be seen and much-needed change just simply won’t happen.

We recently heard a question asked at an industry conference, “What can we buy and give out at our events to promote sustainability?”  It struck us as being a little off-piste.

Positive sustainable activity in events is about empowering our stakeholders to act differently by generating and promoting ideas, debate, or simply choosing an eco-alternative product or making a meaningful donation.  It is not about buying more stuff.

Sustainability in the events industry involves considering waste reduction, energy efficiency, and responsible sourcing of materials. By pushing sustainable practices and promoting meaningful change,  event organisers such as ourselves can not only minimise environmental impact but also improve reputation among attendees who are increasingly concerned about sustainability. 

Our events often involve large numbers of people travelling to a single location, using energy and resources during the event itself, and producing waste afterwards.  We are taking steps to reduce this impact, helping protect the environment but also demonstrating our commitment to social responsibility.  In recent years we have seen a huge rise in the popularity of virtual and hybrid events.

But in-person events continue, as they always will, and there are several ways in which we as event organisers can produce a greener, more sustainable, event. Some are easy-to-do quick-wins while others are more strategic.  Any which way, at Make Events want to lead by example.  Let’s take a look at some of our quick-wins:

Opt for digital invitations instead of printed ones. This not only saves paper but also reduces carbon emissions from transportation.

Provide recycling and composting bins at the event venue to encourage attendees to dispose of waste responsibly.

Partner with local vendors who use sustainable practices, such as being plastic-free, and serve locally-sourced food and beverages, reducing transportation emissions. 

Sustainable flowers are growing (excuse the pun) in availability.  By showcasing floral sustainability at events, we hope to inspire a conversation where our community of people ask deeper questions about international floriculture and consequently raise environmental awareness.  

To create events with a visual spectacle, but that also stand the test of time, we must keep asking, “is this sustainable?”

Never more so is the issue of sustainability in events more relevant than when we look at menu planning.  We live in a time where Burger King feels propelled to open a pop-up meat-free restaurant in Leicester Square, and our UK vegan food market is growing at a rate of 9.58%.  In fact, according to a 2023 report by Straits Research, 40% of UK consumers are now demanding meat-free options.  

As event planners we must be aware that the global vegan food market is currently valued at $16.45 billion, with projections to reach $36.02 billion by 2031.

Whether consumers are driving this increasing demand for vegan food for weight-loss, animal wellbeing, or environmental reasons, it isn’t showing any signs of reversing.  700,000 people signed up for Veganuary this year and the environment was one of the top three reasons for participating.

Check out our sustainability page for many more about how we ensure we create truly eco-thoughtful events.

What keeps us focused and proactive around sustainability is our strategic thinking and planning.  With memberships to impactful event industry groups and carbon-neutral support bodies such as Isla and Zellar, we are working with our wider events industry colleagues to create meaningful sustainability changes.Sustainability is important in the events industry, as it should be in every other industry out there.  What are you doing to ask, “Is this sustainable?”

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