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Why Your Event Sustainability Strategy Never Works Out the Way You Plan

So you’ve realized over the last year or two that environmental sustainability is trending, especially if your target audience is of the younger generations (i.e. Millennials and Gen Z). 

They care about eco-friendly living, including their events.

You start finding ways to make your event eco-friendlier, you develop an event sustainability strategy but somehow.. It NEVER works out the way you plan.

You made sure that ONLY biodegradable and compostable materials are allowed on-site, only to realize that your waste management company doesn’t accept these items into their organics bins.

You ordered a water refill station for your festival except food truck vendors are still selling plastic water bottles.

And you made sure to triple check the number of guests for your gala only to have a ton of food tossed out at the end of the night.

I get it. You set the best of intentions but it’s just so damn difficult to keep track of everything when there’s so many other fires to be put out left, right and center.

Here’s why it’s been so damn difficult:

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1. You Lack the Expertise

You may know the art of negotiating contracts or signing on sponsors but what about telling the difference between biodegradable and compostable materials?

Biodegradable ≠ compostable. Remember that anything and everything is technically biodegradable, it will break down eventually… On the other hand, compostable materials (in the right conditions i.e. heat, water and oxygen) will break down within a few weeks or months. 

Or what about plastic #5, is recyclable or not? Hint: It depends on your waste management company.

You are doing your best with the knowledge you have, but it seems to fall short. You don’t know what questions to ask or which eco-friendly options to choose from. My advice? Find an expert you know and trust, then book a consultation with them.

Remember at Eco-Friendly Events, we offer strategy sessions by the hour that you can book with us and we’ll help you make the decisions that best align with the goals of your event!

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2. Your strategy is NOT Included in the Beginning

You told food vendors that only compostable materials are allowed on-site, and your venue’s waste management company has organic bins (amazing!). But some vendors arrive with plastic cups, others with bamboo plates. AND THEN, you see staff tossing the contents of the organics bins into the trash at the end of the night *face palm*.

So you ask your staff why, only to realize that the bins are a mixture of everything and that compostable materials don’t belong in the organics bin. So your efforts have completely gone to waste (pun intended)!

It’s because of scenarios like this that the sustainability portion of your event needs to be incorporated into the early stages of planning. From including eco-friendly requirements in vendor contracts to asking your venue about their waste management practices, these actions and questions need to be made clear from the get-go. Otherwise, any sort of last minute measures cannot be implemented or enforced.

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3. You don’t have a Designated Person to Implement

Even if you have things in place and planned from the get go… time and time again, things are ALWAYS left to the last minute and things can be forgotten. For example, hiring staff to monitor the garbage and recycling bins but forgetting to designate a team member to supervise the staff. 

If it wasn’t already becoming apparent, you need someone who’s to implement the sustainability strategy.

The same way you have a caterer, a photographer and volunteer coordinator. You need a sustainability coordinator on-site as well. Whether it’s someone on your team, a contractor or consultant like Eco-Friendly Events. There’s no doubt about it, you need someone! They will ensure that things run smoothly and if/when they don’t, there is somebody who is responsible for resolving those issues!

Remember that it takes a village to produce an event so hire that expertise if you don’t already have it on your team, start the sustainability planning EARLY and have a designated person to implement that strategy. Book a Clarity Call with us today, and let’s chat about how we can support you with the sustainability management of your upcoming event! 

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