Using your events personality to drive sustainability
Time to read: 4-5 minutes
People are worried about the environment. Other than a selected few with loud voices, we’re all a little scared, a little concerned and rather excited to do our bit to help. We all feel better knowing that we’re making a positive contribution to the planet. However, for many years now some people have felt like there’s nothing they can do. This creates a barrier to problem solving because the problem isn’t clear cut. Yes, the planet needs help, but how do I personally help? A big problem requires lots of thought and too much thought is often shied away from.
Our brains are wired to see solutions to problems, but only if we see the problem clearly.
When someone has a clear-cut preference, it becomes much easier to find solutions that help. Most people want to contribute to a brighter future but can feel unsure where to start or who to go to.
Here’s a fun way to put this into context. Is it the rushing to Oxford Street at 5pm on Christmas Eve that’s the difficult part or is it the two months it takes you to finally decide you’ll get Aunt Mildred another jumper this year because you’ve got no idea what she likes? Having a clear-cut understanding of what someone does or does not want makes it easy for you to want to give them what they do want.
For example, my friend Maggie has so many fridge magnets you can barely see the colour of her fridge. She’s got magnets from all over the world. She’s got boring ones and lewd ones. Ones that look like mini countries and some with pictures of her friends in them. Some with messages we’ve all heard a million times and a handful that look like they were crafted by Da Vinci. However, she’s only bought two of the many magnets she owns. Many years ago, when she moved out at 16 she tried to create a sort of grown up homely feeling by buying a magnet. She told everyone how much she loved them and slowly, bit by bit, people started buying her magnets.
There’s an ease that comes with the simplicity of a singular simple expressed interest.
If your event’s personality is very obviously eco-centric, people will start thinking up clever new ways to help and most importantly, they’ll share them with you. You’ll have created the space for optimism and collaboration. People will know that you’re someone who will listen to their ideas and appreciate their environmental efforts. In meetings you’ll be given more options because they won’t feel shy or embarrassed about presenting something unconventional.
Most of us want to feel like we’re helping. The event industry isn’t ignorant to the needs of the planet, there’s been a wealth of strides towards sustainability already. Once you put it out there that this is something your event’s passionate about, suppliers and delegates will get pumped up too. They may start finding solutions to cost related issues so that they can feel like they’re part of the environmental revolution too. Where the personality angle differs from some other sustainability efforts, is that it moves from something you’re interested in and would like to implement, into something you’re already involved in.
It becomes a necessity, rather than a selling point.
When suppliers are discussing terms with you, rather than trying to promote a costly sustainability add on, it’s more likely they’ll offer an alternative at the pitch phase at the same rate because they know they’re not selling you an edgy marketing point, they’re aligning themselves with your event’s personality.
Don’t underestimate or forget initiatives you’ve already undergone to promote sustainability.
If you’ve planned a meeting with 8 people and you provided 8 glasses rather than the standard 8 plastic cups, you’ve made the difference of 8 less plastic cups in the ocean. Don’t shy away from saying you have already implemented a plastic free policy that has been successful so far.
Keep it at the forefront of your events’ brand. Make “eco-conscious” part of your messaging, marketing and meetings. Make it very easy to see that sustainability is something you’re passionate about. Tell everyone from suppliers to sponsors all the ways you and your agency have gone green. Over time, people will start to help you achieve more sustainable events. Like Maggie and her magnets, ask and you’re a lot more likely to receive than if you hadn’t said anything at all.