The recent limelight shone on the issue of climate change, led us to discuss how we can make high-end events more sustainable. The luxury services market is often happy to ignore the huge amounts of wastage that occurs, because rarely does a private client demand this as part of the decision-making process.
Thousands of pounds-worth of flowers are thrown away the following day; destination weddings have guests flying from all corners of the globe; and electricity to power a small town is used to produce a band’s single 90 minute performance.
Of course, we are in the entertainment business, but what can we do as an industry in order to shift this and make it more of a priority?
We came up with a few starting points for reducing the Carbon footprint:
1. Ask your client about their priorities – we tend to assume that clients with deep pockets throwing large amounts of money on a party aren’t interested in their environmental impact, however, we should dig deeper to discover their sense of social responsibility. Many billionaires are at the forefront of investing in sustainable products – for example the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – and we should suggest ways in which their party or wedding could have aspects that would retain impact, but that would be more responsibly sustainable.
2. Choose suppliers who are aligned with your environmental impact outlook – for example, a caterer who has invested in a food wastage scheme where food preparation is kept to a minimum, recycling is at a rate of 95% or higher, and leftover food is sent to an anaerobic digestion plant, where green energy and fertiliser are produced.
3. Go paperless and plastic-free – a small step, but whether this is just in your office, for example showing clients budgets, moodboards, proposals and floorplans online; or extending to encouraging clients to send out email invitations rather than hard copy card which needs to be posted and delivered around the world. We love a beautiful printed invitation as much as the next person, but is it time for the industry to catch up with bigger priorities? In terms of plastic, most bar companies and caterers in the UK will only use paper straws now, but consider all areas where you can use sustainable products instead of throwing away items at the end of the night.
Overall, we should be taking steps towards an industry-wide commitment to sustainability in order to ensure the future of our industry. Imagine how our industry will change with an increasing reluctance from guests to travel on planes/trains/buses to attend an event; the extra contingency planning required for natural hazards such as flooding, landslides etc, which are said to increase with global warming; the changes in food availability as crop production around the world is affected by higher temperatures.
To conclude, the overlap of the events industry with the hospitality, tourism and design worlds shows we are not alone in needing to tackle an issue that would be easier to sideline as a threat to our industry. If we harness the positive outcomes that could come from taking big steps to make our industries more sustainable, we are far more likely to guarantee a bright future.