There are facts, and then there are facts. Here’s one that will have an impact on everything we think and do in the next decade or so. By 2025 there will be an estimated 9 billion people on the planet. All will be consumers. Consumers of goods, energy, food and resources.
That’s why the letter “R” will be incredibly important.
We’ll all need to be reducing, recycling, reusing, refusing, repairing, rethinking, rotting (composting our food more efficiently) and lots of other R’s. The good news is that this has the potential to make us a lot more resilient (another R), more efficient and save us money. Let’s look at a few examples:
Issue: We all could do with a lot less “stuff.” Ask yourself if you’re really serving your audiences or attendees by constantly giving them more stuff for their conference bags, much of which will become trash at some point. Do we need all of that signage and paper collateral? Is it really enhancing the brand or providing useful information or just creating a noisy landscape?
Think greener: Think of one thing you could reduce at your next event, set a target and measure it. Maybe it’s to reduce paper by 25 percent, and that’s just one example.
Issue: Let’s say you do need some stuff, some signage, some elements that add to the attendee experience. Can you be more efficient in your design process and think longer term? Is there a way to choose materials that can become part of an endless cycle of reuse?
This is cradle-to-cradle thinking. Let’s move away from having trade-show floors look like trash dumps at the end of a show, for example, to a philosophy of “what you carry in, you carry out and reuse in some other way.”
Think greener: Consider the materials you use and event elements you create and look for ways to ensure they get don’t end up in landfill. What one element could you rethink and how could it be reused after the event or donated for reuse?
Issue: If you have “stuff,” can you recycle it? Almost every city, venue and hotel now has some sort of recycling program, but there are still a lot of events that don’t take advantage of them, ultimately creating more waste than necessary.
Think greener: Work with your event venue on waste management and diversion. Set joint goals for an amount that can be diverted from landfill through recycling and/or composting, then ask for data so you can measure it. In the long run, this should save you money.
The “R’s” we’ve discussed are the traditional ones, but there is more to consider. Refuse to accept items you don’t really need at events. Look at repairing and not disposing of products that could still be useful. Consider how to be more sustainable in the long term.
What other “R’s” are you incorporating into your sustainable event design? How can you help event attendees adopt an “R” attitude and make it part of their experience? Let’s keep this conversation going.