Guest post by Kirsty Esson | Event Sales Manager, Merlin Events
There is no doubt that sustainability has become a buzz word within most businesses. However, within the events industry, we must implement sustainable practices into the events we produce. Sustainability within events, as well as purpose-driven experiences that give back to the wider community, have become a new part of the event experience that isn’t going away any time soon – and nor should it.
There are a LOT of articles and resources on how to make your next event more sustainable, and how best to give back. These are often targeted to large scale event organisers, so can be daunting or simply not suitable when scaled back to smaller one-off events. So, we have compiled a list of simple ways that any event organiser can incorporate to ensure their next event is more sustainable.
Location, Location, Location
Sustainability is all about making choices to minimise the impact of your event on the environment and available resources. One of the simplest ways to start is by choosing an easily accessible venue – think walking distance of your office or close to public transport. This means you can limit the number of guests who will choose to drive to the event, lowering the carbon footprint.
Don’t be afraid to check with your venue to see if they already have sustainable practices in place. Many venues have a strong focus in this area, and you may be surprised to find out just how much you can tick off by choosing a venue whose values align with yours.
Reduce your waste
- Choose your venue wisely – By choosing a venue that has a commitment to reducing waste, you are already a lot closer to hosting a more sustainable event. Many venues may not be perfect – but every little bit helps. You never know, asking the question may be the motivation a venue needs to continue moving forward on their own sustainability journey.
- Say no to straws – a simple and easy win. You don’t need straws, and they will just end up in the ocean, destroying sea life. Not something you want your guests to remember from your event.
- Avoid single-use plastic serve ware (plastic plates, forks ) – Instead, opt for compostable serve ware; there are so many smart alternatives. At Merlin, our venues source all single-use items from BioPak and offer sustainable packaging made from plants that can be commercially composted through our waste management plan. This leads into our next tip…
- Confirm your venue has a waste management plan – Not only do they need to have a waste management plan but ensure that it actively works to compost and recycle waste. As well as our compost plan to manage our BioPlastic waste, Merlin Events also works with Envirobank to recycle single-use items such as beer and soft drink bottles. The best part of this is that for every bottle returned, we earn 10c – which is sent directly back to our charities, SEA LIFE Trust and the WILDLIFE Conservation Fund.
- Switch to Glass or Cans – If you are serving soft drinks at your event, opt for cans or glass bottles over plastic. It’s a small change, but it really makes a difference.
Themed Events – Avoiding unnecessary decorations
Hosting a themed event can lead to a lot of unnecessary waste, with so many decorations going straight in the bin once the event is finished. Here at Merlin we LOVE themed events, it is what we do, and there are certainly ways to minimise waste without compromising on your theme.
- Choose a venue that is already themed or select a theme to suit your venue. If you are hosting your event in SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, an under the sea theme is incredibly easy to achieve, as is a Glamourous “Night in Hollywood” at Madame Tussauds Sydney.
- Ask the venue if they have any reusable decorations that suit your theme. If you have selected a themed venue, the chances are they will have decorations or theming items which will suit. Best of all, it could even save you time and money.
- If you decide to add theming items, look to hire, rather than purchase. There are several great theming and prop companies that have something for any theme imaginable. These items are stored and reused time and time again. And if you do purchase decorative items, then why not gift them to your guests at the end of the night, or donate them to the venue. Anything is better than adding them to landfill!
- Avoid plastics and items which are not recyclable. Replace balloons with florals, and avoid easy but harmful choices such as confetti scatters.
With the Christmas season upon us, sending guests home with a small gift is a lovely gesture, but it can also be wasteful, so many guests end up taking home a trinket of little interest. If your event is a sit-down dinner, why not choose a gift that doubles as your table decorations. A small potted succulent or mini terrarium is a great option in place of a name tag.
Or you could go a step further and gift an item which encourages sustainable living. There is a broad range of beautiful items available, from beeswax wraps, customised metal/bamboo straws, to keep cups. With more of us looking to be sustainably conscious, your guests are sure to appreciate this more than a more traditional gift. Better yet, why not donate to a charity instead of purchasing a gift at all. Simply let everyone know that you gave a certain amount on behalf of everyone in the room – they’ll be grateful for it.
Whatever your next event is, our advice is to start simple and don’t let the fear of not running an entirely sustainable event stop you. As Anne-Marie Bonneau says – “we don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
Every change you make helps. Here at Merlin Events we don’t claim to be perfect, but we are committed to making continual progress on our sustainability journey. We aim to be a force for good wherever we operate, going above and beyond what is expected of us as a good corporate citizen.
You can see more on what Merlin Entertainments are doing here: http://www.merlinevents.com.au/about-us/responsible-business.aspx