Guest Blog: Can events ever really be sustainable?

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By Matt Coyne, founder of Waves Connects

I saw a quote from Mike Berners-Lee the other day and he said:

“There is no such thing as an offset. It’s a bogus concept. If you do something that has a carbon footprint like getting on an aeroplane, there is nothing you can do to undo the fact you have had that impact.”

It had me thinking about events and I refer back to my original comment, can events ever be truly sustainable? A lot of people will talk about carbon offsets and renewable energy sources, but if we go back to Berners Lee’s quote, is that actually enough?

When planning an event it’s easy to think that simply removing the carpet or using renewable energy sources helps make events more sustainable. However, these solutions don’t take into account the entire event lifecycle.

I need to point out here, I’m not a sustainability expert, this is just my view on the state of affairs with sustainability in events today.

I read with interest last year about the Javits Center in NY and how they are setting a bit of a standard in sustainability.

The Javits Center is embracing sustainability and taking strides to become a model of sustainable practices. In their recent expansion, they implemented an impressive array of eco-friendly upgrades – from installing a one-acre rooftop farm and orchard, to transforming the convention center into a wildlife sanctuary. Their conservation efforts aim to improve quality of life for employees, visitors and surrounding neighborhoods while furthering research with key institutions that assesses their impact on the environment. It’s pretty impressive of course – you can read a bit more about the project here.

I know venues like Amsterdam Rai have also been working hard on their sustainability efforts ( supporting local farmers and such (more about their projects here), and many organizers have been implementing such strategies too, which is great to see, but I know I still have so much to learn about the subject and how we can lessen the impact of our amazing industry on the environment around us.

So, can events be sustainable? I’m not sure we have a definitive answer just yet, however, I’m looking forward to attending the Sustainable Breakfast Briefing hosted by Event Industry News on the 28th of February at 8 am in London to learn more about this crucial topic for protecting our future.

Will I see you there?

Register here

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