Contributing Bloggers

Planning Eco-Friendly Meetings and Events: Part 1

Picture1We can no longer ignore how climate change is impacting the way we work and live. The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells is a great but eye-opening read.

If you’re not familiar with it, The Uninhabitable Earth essentially outlines all of the ways in which climate change is already affecting our lives. It also warns of a not-so-distant future in which the oceans contain more plastic than fish. Water scarcity, extreme weather and the rise of as little as two-degrees Celsius will see all of us in a global conflict unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before.

Here at home, we’re already feeling it, as water levels this year on the Toronto Islands were at a record high (the second time since 2017), halting ferry service and leaving many roads and paths waterlogged. Other areas of the province were also transformed into sandbag fortresses against rising waters.

South of the border, we saw unrelenting forest fires burn across much of the West Coast. Spring’s torrential rains in the Midwestern states left acres upon acres of land unsuitable for growing food. And there are so many other climate anomalies causing havoc around the world.

The good news is, as Wallace-Wells says himself: “It’s not too late. In fact, it never will be.” It’s important to remember that the pro-active steps we take as companies and individuals – no matter how small or seemingly insignificant – can add up to a powerful collective of environmental do-good.

The event industry creates a lot of waste. From food waste to paper waste and the constant travel, we owe it to our planet to hold ourselves professionally, and personally, accountable for the impact our industry has on the environment.

Whether you’re planning an intimate meeting for executives, a multi-day conference, or a city-wide festival, make it part of your event blueprint to be as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible.

Not sure where to start? You’re in luck! Here’s a list of tips and tools that we at LOMA Agency have compiled for you to consider before you begin planning your next event:

Get Down With Digital – Go Paperless!

Picture2

We get it, sometimes you have a less-than-adaptable audience. Or the client insists that every seat receive a printed copy of the agenda. As Kermit the frog once famously lamented, it’s not easy being green – but it is worth it!

To start, partner with a mobile app developer as a way of combining all of the most commonly printed materials (e.g. programs and agendas, speaker bios, menus, presentation decks) in one convenient online place that attendees can access at any time.

There is no shortage of options available. As with any other vendor you partner with, make sure that the app you choose is right for you. To help inspire your digital move, take a look at the latest top-rated event apps.

Signage, is another major consideration. Signage is a must, but do we really need printed signage?

Speak with your AV provider about budget and how you might incorporate more digital signage vs standard decals or foam core. Not only does digital signage help eliminate printed waste, but it’s a more versatile conduit for creative branding presentations by including animations and sound, and allows for additional real-time content.

Also, take an audit of any opportunities to leverage built-in screens or in-house AV within your chosen venue. Your venue selection plays a major role in your ability to be sustainable so don’t be afraid to ask them to step up.

Waste Not Want Not – Sustainable Food & Beverage

Picture3

Did you know that:

  • Meeting budgets allocate approximately $48B every year on food and beverage (F&B) in the US alone?
  • In 2018, roughly 40% was wasted – meaning it went into the garbage despite being still safe and nutritious to eat.
  • In 2018, an estimated 50 million Americans required access to food banks so that they didn’t starve.
  • Canadians aren’t doing much better. Reports show that 58% of ALL food produced going to waste which is staggering, to say the least.

These facts are important because they prove that sustainability isn’t just good for the planet, it’s good for the individual. Imagine if you could say to your key stakeholders that you discovered a way to save them 30% to 40% off their F&B, or allow them to re-purpose these funds? (Hello digital signage!)

You can also suss out ways to support an organization’s CSR initiatives by reducing food waste at your event and donating to a local not-for-profit. Whatever your rationale, the result is the same – greater sustainability leads to a healthier planet.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Audit previous events similar in size and scale – this will allow you to understand your average no-show rate and how many people you’ve actually fed in the past to fine-tune your guarantees.
  • Talk to your caterer about sourcing local, ethically-grown, and where possible, organic ingredients.
  • Include a sustainability clause in your RFP to caterers and/or venues and challenge them to outline ways in which they plan to donate or re-purpose any leftover food.
  • Finally, limit service waste. This means swapping paper napkins for cloth napkins that can be cleaned for reuse, or using compostable materials and providing clearly labelled receptacles for guests to dispose of when they’re finished. You might even consider enforcing a “no bottled water policy” and provide your guests with reusable water bottles that can be refilled at water stations throughout your event space.

Still with us? Check this blog space next month for Part Two of Loma Agency’s guide to planning greener and more eco-friendly meetings and events. We’ll share more interesting facts about the food we serve at events, and how a little creativity not only satisfies our planet but feeds our appetites as well.

In the meantime, we want to hear about all of the ways you’ve reduced waste and continue to implement greener practices at your meetings and events.

Find us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and share your story by tagging us so we can continue to learn from you. Remember, there is no Planet B!

Loren Maisels, CMP

As a detail-oriented and results-driven leader, Loren Maisels has not only focused her 15-year career on events marketing and demand generation … she’s owned it! With experience in both agency and corporate environments, Loren has planned numerous ROI-driven events for companies including Vision|Co, Accenture, Achievers and Great Place to Work.

A Toronto native, Loren found herself in San Francisco, California in 2011, spearheading SaaS company Achievers’ events expansion strategy. Among other key tactics, results-driven events paid off and the company was ultimately acquired by Blackhawk Networks in 2015.

In 2016 Loren returned home to Toronto and started LOMA Marketing Agency, a full service event marketing agency dedicated to building strategic creative experiences.

To learn more please visit www.lomaagency.com or contact Loren directly loren@lomaagency.com .

Latest posts by Loren Maisels, CMP (see all)