Sustainability is an overused word, both in society and in the events industry more specifically. Companies often ‘greenwash’ themselves and make bold claims about their pledge to the planet, but there are hardly ever metrics to prove this. This year alone, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were accused of greenwashing by Dezeen, after it was revealed the games were the third-least sustainable in 30 years, producing a total of 2.4 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.
We recognise how hard it is to cut through the voices in our industry who talk about sustainability, but here at Marble it’s at the centre of everything we do, and we strive to have a more positive impact on communities and on the planet.
Marketing Assistant, Hattie, looks at the methods of reducing carbon emissions using the power of experiential, drawing on some of the influential events we’ve recently been involved in as well as some excellent examples from our industry peers.
Strategising your sustainability pledge
#1 Educate executives and investors on sustainable business models
It’s the key stakeholders at the top, who have influence over businesses, that we want to target with our ideas about sustainability. Earlier in the year, we worked with Huckletree – who hosted their first ever virtual festival to discuss the climate crisis – uniting industry experts, investors and politicians from all over the world at the 2021 Earthrise Summit.
Bringing together leaders from B-Lab, Ecosia, Bulb and more, Earthrise had 8 hours of bold content to share with attendees, and ingenious solutions to tackle the climate crisis.
Model and activist Lily Cole joined the 60 other speakers, talking about her latest book and educating businesses and individuals about the concept of carbon pricing. “It’s hard to be a conscious consumer because there’s so little choice [for sustainable solutions],” says Lily, whilst talking about some of the biggest names in the technology industry and their lack of action. “We give $5 trillion a year in global subsidies to the fossil fuel industry… my hope is that in future we will create policies which drive carbon pricing.”
As we move forward in our sustainability strategy as a business we’ll be working with innovative clients like Huckletree more and more, to drive forward our values and put them into a tangible practice which can be absorbed and adapted by our partners.
#2 Create a platform for the next generation to design a sustainable future
Our favourite kinds of commercial projects to work on are ones which leave a lasting impression on our audience and the planet. One of these was with Absolut Trash, in collaboration with John Doe PR. This project aimed to pave the way in the sustainable fashion industry, providing a platform for up-and-coming designers who cut through the notoriously wasteful fast fashion industry, and instead use materials with a clear production cycle.
In order to create London Fashion Week’s first ever recycled runway for Absolut, we partnered with Orca Sound Project to repurpose 240kg plastic waste collected from the beaches of the UK. As well as ocean waste, we also collected rubbish from backstage at LFW; offcuts, party waste, and recycled materials from local bars all went into our stage production.
The fashion designers who got the chance to have their collection walk the runway were selected as they reflected the sustainable values of Absolut, like James Marshall, Founder of 10T. Marshall collects abandoned festival tents and recycles them into beautiful garments, demonstrating how easy it is to recycle products into innovative and creative new designs. “It was an amazing experience to be able to show my work at LFW. Sustainability in fashion is really having a moment and it’s great to see brands like Absolut get behind up-and-coming brands like us at 10T.”
So, as you can see, our events go further than simply being ‘plastic free’. Whilst this step is undeniably important, it’s more ascertainable now more than ever with a wealth of paper alternatives and digital solutions. If you can create a clear circular economy within your live experience, bringing recycled materials into the very foundations, then you’re able to map out a more impactful sustainability strategy long-term.
#3 Speak out about sustainable solutions in your industry
Whilst our project with Absolut provided feasible solutions for the fashion industry, there are a wealth of other sustainability solutions that can be considered when conceptualising a live experience.
In the marketing industry, we’re seeing a real drive towards ‘rebranding’ the face of sustainability, including a campaign from Lime which is taking full advantage of the government’s plan to phase out petrol and diesel cars by 2030. “Ultimately, people are going to need to understand how these alternatives can fit seamlessly into their lives and work for them. There’s a bit of storytelling, trying to show and distil how these alternate modes are functional. Right now, the default is cars”, says Lea Loo, senior designer at New York brand and design studio Gretel.
We’re also seeing a huge push from another well-known F&B company, Brewdog, whose advertising has now shifted to focus solely on sustainability. As well as pushing renewable energy sources such as wind turbines, Brewdog will use electric-powered delivery vehicles, local brewing factories, and more.
Whilst adverts like these do have impact on the consumer, we’d suggest an experiential campaign to drive forward the brand values and put their sustainability commitments into practice. It is brands that use hybrid campaigns like this who cut through the noise.
#4 Measure your impact on the planet
Earlier this year, the IPCC announced that global warming would reach 1.5 degrees by 2030, a decade earlier than previously predicted. We’re at a critical time for the planet, and so it’s time for us to take action and push forward our individual and collective commitments to sustainability.
While certification is not a legal requirement, we wanted to go above and beyond to ensure best practice and for ourselves and our projects. The ISO 20121 qualification offers guidance to help manage our events and control its social, economic and environmental impact. We would recommend this holistic approach to any event producer or supplier; it addresses all stages of the events supply chain, including monitoring and measuring guidelines.
We’ve developed practical and useful tools to track our performance at the office, in our warehouse and for our live events. Plus, we’re also working towards our ISO 14001 qualification which relates to our wider environmental responsibilities outside the event world.
As we continue to solidify our commitments and pledges to the environment, we were thrilled to feature in The Sustainable Event Buyer’s Guide 2021, a comprehensive guide curated by Event Industry News.
In the words of Greta Thunberg: “The main solution is so simple that even a small child can understand it. We have to stop the emission of greenhouse gases.” We want to help pave the way for our event industry peers to make better choices for the planet, and all of the solutions listed provide structure for how we can follow the advice of Greta, the IPCC, and the governing bodies who are leading the fight against climate change.