The Importance Of Sustainable Events In A Post-Covid World And How To Make Your Event More Sustainable

22/07/2021

In England at least, July 19th was a big day. Whatever your political opinion, full capacities in venues and no social distancing will undoubtedly provide a much overdue lifeline for the events, sponsorship and hospitality industries. There will likely be huge amounts of pent-up demand as brands look to make up for lost time & consumers look to spend their accumulated savings. In fact, the Retail Think Tank recently reported that “there is an estimated £140 billion of savings which could be used as consumers’ moods shift to spend mode” whilst Event Industry News reported that “84% of UK consumers are ‘eager’ to try new brand experiences, post-lockdown.”

It’s clear there is a huge opportunity for brands and event organisers to make up for lost time and capitalise on this huge demand. But as we move out of lockdown and back to some form of normality, it is key that sustainability policies are not forgotten and put on the back burner as brands look to maximise the return from their budgets. Despite being one of the most unpredictable & turbulent years ever, it has allowed the UK public to step back and gain a greater awareness of sustainability and a deeper understanding of what impact brands & events have on the Earth. 73% of UK consumers have said they want to be more sustainable in 2021 and that ethics and sustainability are becoming increasingly pivotal in the decision making process of consumers, whilst cost is becoming less of a deciding factor. With this in mind, it’s clear that success for events & brands go hand in hand with sustainability, as the population’s attitude has been altered during the pandemic and that it’s unlikely to ever revert back to the pre 2020 outlook.

Consumer demands are changing, event organisers must therefore adapt, so here are 5 ways to make your event or activation more sustainable;

 

GO PLASTIC FREE

A recent UK Government report found that the amount of plastic in the world’s oceans is set to treble in less than a decade.

Documentaries such as Seaspiracy have highlighted the huge environmental impact single-use plastic is having on our oceans and it has now become a hot topic in 2021. When planning an event or activation, consider how plastic is used and how these can be swapped out for recyclable or natural alternatives. As well as cutting out plastic, encouraging attendees to bring their own water bottles & coffee cups can significantly reduce the amount of plastic used at an event.

Glastonbury in 2019 banned the selling of plastic bottles on-site, and encouraged visitors to only bring reusable bottles. This change meant that over the course of the festival, roughly one million bottles weren’t used.

CATERING

Research carried out in 2019 by Lime Venue Portfolio found that nearly a third event professionals admit to throwing away at least 15% of the food they commission at events with 18% saying it was closer to 20%.

Catering is a vital part of any event but it’s also a key area where organisers can be more environmentally friendly. Where possible, try to use organic, locally produced food & drink in order to be kinder to the environment and cut down on transport emissions.

Another great way to cater more sustainably is to not over order or prepare any excess ingredients. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to accurately predict the consumption of your guests. If you do have any excess food left over, look into partnering with a local charity and donating the food rather than throwing it away. For example, Wilderness Festival partner with Oxford Food Hub who collect the fresh food, soft drinks and non-perishables from traders, restaurants and bars, and distribute it free of charge to local charities, ensuring the food gets to the right people and reducing food poverty. Food Cloud is a Irish company providing a similar service.

HYBRID OR VIRTUAL

A large proportion of an event’s carbon footprint comes from the attendee’s travel to and from an event. Holding your event virtually, instead of in-person, cuts down on the amount of travel by attendees, potential hotel & venue energy and also reduces waste due to the provision of digital-only materials. Alternatively, hybrid events are a fantastic way to reduce energy consumption whilst still maintaining the benefits of fact-to-face contact whilst broadcasting your event anywhere in the world.

If there is no way to hold the event virtually, think about how you can encourage consumers to travel to the event in an eco-friendly way and as the event organiser, consider choosing a venue that’s close to public transport and easily accessible.

As we move forward with virtual and hybrid events we will continue to learn more about the positive impacts they have on us, the event, and our planet.

REDUCE PAPER USEAGE

In the UK, over 12.5million tonnes of paper is used every year – that’s the equivalent of a forest the size of Wales. Yet only around 80% of the paper used is recycled.

In the modern world of apps and digital technology, the needs for paper should be drastically reduced. Smartphone apps & CRM systems are now not only more sustainable than paper but are also far more efficient in engaging with your attendees & customers.

Where paper cannot be substituted, ensure recycling stations are readily available for all guests and dispose of the waste responsibly.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT AGENCY

Having an agency that understands both the client’s objectives as well as the environmental impact of any project is vital to not only producing a successful campaign but also ensuring that the event is sustainable and attractive to the modern consumer.

Verve itself has recognised the importance of sustainability in the events industry, and since 2014 the Ireland headquarters have held the ISO 20121:2012 certification (still one of the only agencies with the certification). Each year the agency is independently audited to ensure all of the events & activations they create are as environmentally friendly as possible. This year, the London office will be working hard ahead of an audit to be awarded the ISO certification themselves for the first time.

We at Verve firmly believe that sustainability will become increasingly important to all aspects of society, not only the events industry. Therefore, Verve are committed to being at the forefront of this, pushing boundaries and encouraging all of our clients to put sustainability at the top of their priority list when it comes to creating amazing events & activations.

The Verve Experience Podcast

Verve is an agency celebrating 30 years at the top of the events, experiential and marketing industries. This podcast pulls from that wealth of experience, giving key insights from the past, tips for the future, and everything in between.

You can listen to all of  The Verve Experience episodes here: https://audioboom.com/channels/5045240

If you are planning a virtual or hybrid event, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our virtual events team. We offer a 360 service from planning, creative, production and live execution in house. Click here to learn more.

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