Lida deSouza from DeSouza Associates shares her views on making our events more eco friendly.

You only need to have watched Blue Planet 2 to see the impact plastic is having on our planet and the pictures are shocking. With the prediction that by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish, it’s time to face the facts…

• Of the 8.3billion tons of plastic produced worldwide since the 1950’s only 9% has been recycled.
• 73% of beach litter is plastic, this is killing more than 1.1million seabirds and animals every year.
• 1million plastic bottles and 2million plastic bags are used around the world every minute. Less than half of bottles are recycled with just 7% being made into new bottles and the rest ending up on landfill. The average lifetime of a plastic bag is just 12minutes yet it can take a thousand years to decompose.

Working in the events industry, we see first-hand the needless waste produced at events- the mountains of used water bottles, the one-use signage and plastic name badges are just some of the items. We need to start talking about these issues, challenging our throwaway mentality and coming up with solutions for the future of our planet:

• Signage- could you make it re-usable?
• Plastic Water Bottles- there is no need for them. Work with the venue on alternatives, one option is that participants could bring in their own reusable bottles and refill them.
• Plastic Name Badges- there are many alternative material options, have a look at different products/suppliers.
• Décor- think twice about decorating with balloons, they don’t recycle.
• Giveaways- it’s common to hand out branded items at events- mouse mats, pens, keyrings, do your clients really need these? If they are just going to end up on a landfill is it really worth producing these novelty items?

After your next event why don’t you take a look at what is being thrown away and start to work out solutions to reduce waste at future events. These little changes will have a great impact.