Making an Impact by Treading Lightly

By Vusi | 15 June 2012 Blog home

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘going green’, and some of us might even have adopted the basic principles in our homes or at work, but how many of us truly understand what ‘green eventing’ is?  Why is it even important? Let’s take a look…

Most corporates use events as a form of brand communication – either to create awareness about their product or service, or to thank existing clients for their business.  Then, you also have large-scale events, such as those in the entertainment industry.  Despite their good intentions, events can also impact negatively on the environment through the reckless use of resources.  Did you know that every product and service related to an event will impact on the carbon footprint of the event?

So what is a carbon footprint? 

A carbon or environmental footprint relates to the collective quantity of greenhouse gas emissions from transport, travel and energy usage.  Naturally, eventing includes all of these – sometimes in excess.  Having an awareness about the impact of our carbon emissions is the first step towards reducing waste and making responsible decisions in an attempt to host a green event.

What is a green event?

In this context, the term ‘green’ refers to making responsible and sustainable decisions regarding environmental, social and economic factors.  This is widely referred to as the triple bottom-line, or ‘planet, people and prosperity’.  Green eventing is all about hosting the event in such a way that least impacts these factors.  This spans all principles and practices across all levels of event organisation.  For an event to be certifiably sustainable, or green, you would need to integrate every aspect of your event by involving all the key role players, such as clients, organisers, venues, sub-contractors and suppliers in your planning upfront.  By doing so, you would immediately improve the resource efficiency of the entire event and supply chain management while reducing negative environmental impacts, such as carbon emissions, waste to landfill and the effect on biodiversity.  At the same time, you would increase economic, social and environmental benefits as well as enhance the economic impact, such as local investment and long-term viability.

Where do you start?

The purchasing of goods and services is a core activity relating to events.  Eco-procurement is giving preference to products that are not harmful to the environment.  It also supports the concept of local economic development by buying local goods and services due to transport costs.  In this way, you are encouraged to buy only what you need and consider innovative alternative options that cut back on unnecessary waste.  Remember, this extends to the selection of venues (hotels, conference facilities etc.), transport (buses, airport transfers) and other services or suppliers.  The best is to include these criteria in your request for quotes or tender documents.

The green event goal

Each of us has the power to contribute towards the ultimate goal of carbon neutrality – just by remembering and applying the three green Rs:  reduce, reuse, and recycle.  For example, you could reduce the cost and waste associated with printed invitations and brochures by sending electronic invites or supplying your guests with USB flash sticks that have been pre-loaded with your corporate messaging.  Suppliers of these are even choosing to go green these days with the development of eco-friendly products that are either locally made, biodegradable or made from natural products.  It would be optimistic to think that you can get rid of all of your waste by reducing, reusing and recycling, so bear in mind that you have the option to offset what you cannot.

Carbon offsets

Carbon offsetting is the practice of reducing emissions through a carbon-saving project in order to balance out unavoidable emissions.  There are many important things that need to be taken into consideration to create an effective and high quality carbon offset project, so it is advisable to deal with a reputable carbon offset company to facilitate the process.

So what are you doing to make a difference?

Now that you understand the concept better, how are you going to make this a daily reality?  You need to be Green At Heart by having ‘green’ top of mind.  Ask your client if they’re open to green eventing.  From the start of each new brief at brainstorm stage right through to the execution on the day, challenge yourself to use all resources efficiently, which means using sustainable energy sources, cutting back on waste and the use of local products and services.

It was Albert Einstein who said that we shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.  Part of this new thinking is to challenge yourself in all your daily tasks, and if one of those tasks is to organise events wouldn’t it be great for your company, and your planet, if you could make a big impact while still treading lightly?


When supplying refreshments for events, rather make use of reusable glass bottles instead of plastic ones. And what about using reusable oil candles or battery powered ones instead of the traditional wax candle as a décor item?