There was a time when “going green” simply meant eliminating paper waste, recycling and shutting off lights. While that is still true today, the definition has expanded greatly. Event industry leaders are taking a holistic approach to the issue, looking at sustainability in terms of the whole life cycle of an event and the trickle-down effect shifts in thinking can have on the entire event footprint, the local economy and the world.
In our November/December issue, we’ll take a deep dive into the state of green in the industry. For now, here’s a sneak peek at some of the trends shaping the evolving world of sustainable events.
1. Social Media is Saving Trees
One of the first items Kenya Hardaway, vp-integrated promotions at FX, looks at when developing a greener activation strategy is paper waste—all the collateral that winds up on the ground and in the trash. Her team, she says, focuses on social media moments that help tell a story and spread the messaging digitally.
“We look to create sharable moments through the content design of the event, the fabrication, the décor,” Hardaway says. “We include a hashtag each time and let the shares communicate and spread the information.”
2. Green is Expanding to Wellness
Paul Salinger, vp-marketing at Oracle, which takes a rigorous approach to greening its events, describes a “triple bottom line” approach of people, planet and profit, and an approach to sustainability that involves the convergence of those factors.
“Wellness is a strong piece, this whole idea of attendee health and well being, and it could be anything from really strong food and beverage menus that focus on low sugar and serving healthy brain food kind of meals, to getting people out and walking more, and giving them more breaks, giving them more options of getting out in the fresh air,” Salinger says.
3. Sustainability Has a Seat at the Planning Table
From consultants who conduct waste audits to sustainability officers on the brand-side who have a seat at the strategic planning table, “going green” is no longer an add-on. Take Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco. It’s being touted as potentially the greenest Super Bowl yet, and a Sustainability Committee is helping to drive that. In an interview earlier this year, Neill Duffy, sustainability adviser to the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee, says the goal for the game and activities surrounding it is to be “net positive,” a new term for leaving a space better off than when you came in—yet another example of how the definition of “green” is evolving.