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Sustainable Events

As an events planner, the biggest issue that is facing us at the moment is sustainability and working with clients to ensure their events are as sustainable as possible. There is not only a desire, but an expectation, from guests attending events that sustainability will be a top priority for the organisers.

 There have been so many positive shifts in many venues I work with to ensure the sustainability box is ticked and this is backed by visitors demands and expectations that this is adhered to. Such as the expectation that plastic straws and cups are not used and replaced with recyclable options instead, which is getting more and more common. 

I work a lot with Borough Market and recently the Body Shop unveiled artwork made of plastic to showcase the plight of waste-pickers in India and how it is aiming to help them by paying a fairer price for their work.

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The portrait of a female waste-picker is made from 1,500 recycled plastic items hand collected by waste pickets in Bengaluru and was on permanent display earlier this month. 

Borough Market themselves have a wonderful approach and have stated that its mission is to put every left-over piece of food or packaging to the best possible use – to see raw materials where others see refuse. 

None of the market’s rubbish goes to landfill. All cardboard, paper, plastic, glass and wood are recycled. 

This is music to my ears as an events’ organiser and it’s great to see that this is so high on venues’ radars, especially when faced with budget constraints and expectations. A lot are thinking outside the (recyclable) box to offer sustainability solutions and this is something I help them achieve. 

In order to try and ensure the sustainability box can be always ticked in my events, when I initially meet my clients, I ensure that this is on the agenda right from the beginning and explain that this is a large focus and factor for me. The onus is on me to explain the options to them – so if they don’t use plastic, what can they use and what is the price comparison? Are they ordering the right amount of food for the attendees, what does the waste levels look like and what are we to do with that waste? Do they have recycling measures in place? 

By calling this out early can ensure this is enforced and budget doesn’t suffer.

 Often, the person who has commissioned the event or the venue itself haven’t thought of these factors but if they are discussed as early as possible most people want to implement them.

It is great to see so much noise around sustainability at events and I’ve definitely noticed a change in attitude, especially with the couples I work with on their weddings. They want to be sustainable (whether that’s having a no plastic rule or using biodegradable confetti) and will choose venues accordingly with this is mind. 

So, for any venue worth its salt, it needs to not only ensure they are sustainable, but they should do their research into how they can be the best they can be and what is on offer to them and then promote this wonderful offer to their clients. I can’t wait to see more venues taking note and getting on board. 

Shaun Johnson