It’s likely you have heard a lot about event greening, but how much of what you know is true? As with all newer things, there can be some confusion and misinformation. Here we unpack some of the more common event greening myths and set the record straight.
Myth #1: Event greening is expensive
Truth: There are a number of event greening actions which have no cost difference, or which can be an outright cost save. For example, if you decide to do away with conference bags, this is a simple and straightforward saving.
On the other hand, some event greening measures can come with a bigger price tag than the business-as-usual equivalents – especially when you want to implement new technologies, such as a grey water system for your venue or LED lighting for your exhibition shell scheme. However, what is actually happening is that you are paying more upfront, and will then have a cost benefit over the long term. Using the above examples, your water bills and energy bills will drop dramatically.
Grace Stead, a sustainability strategist for Steadfast Greening and a board member of the Event Greening Forum (EGF), says, “Event greening should be able to be a cost saving because it focusses on efficiency.” By using your resources more effectively, you will actually get ‘more bang for your buck’ once you have event greening systems in place.
Stead adds, “You also need to consider price versus cost. What is the rand value price that you pay, versus what is the cost to your health and our environment?” While you might feel these costs don’t affect you, they do. They affect all of us, as South African tax payers and citizens.
Myth #2: Event greening is an add-on, like a premium option.
Truth: It is important that event greening is integrated into the event planning process right from the start. This is because event greening is like a mindset that needs to be applied to all of your standard event planning processes, from the venue choice to the event décor, catering, communications and waste management, to give just a few examples.
We expect that event greening practices are going to become increasingly normalised, both from a point of view of best practice and, ultimately, compliance.
Myth #3: You need special expertise to be able to implement event greening.
Truth: “It is NOT rocket-science, but might require some juggling,” says Stead.
A good way to start implementing event greening is to read up about it (we have a number of free resources available, including our Minimum Standards for Sustainable Events) and attend our event greening workshops (we will be running free workshops in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg in January and February of 2018).
Armed with this knowledge you can gradually start to make small changes in the way you do business, until you find the solutions that best suit your business, your community and the environment (known as the triple bottom line).
As you progress, we would encourage you to keep learning and ultimately aim to have your events audited and certified as green.
Myth #4: Doing some event greening means you can call your event a green event.
Truth: A green event is one that has implemented a number of sustainability practices and through this has achieved a carbon neutral status.
Greg McManus, the founder of Heritage Environmental Management and Certification and the Chairman of the EGF, says, “Establishing whether an event is green can only take place after the work has been done – or once the extent of the impacts of the event have happened and been measured.”
To claim your event is green prematurely is essentially greenwashing – a term used to describe any misleading communication or PR spin about greening and green benefits.
It’s important to understand that event greening is an ongoing journey, and even if your event is not a green event, you can still have a positive impact through adopting event greening measures.
Myth #5: Event greening takes up too much time.
Truth: If you incorporate event greening into the early stages of your event planning, and ensure that it stays on the agenda throughout the planning and organising process, it should not create a significant extra amount of work.
Additionally, if you commit to using green suppliers, you have already gone a long way towards becoming more sustainable without having to do any additional work. Look out for our green supplier database, which will be launching in 2018.
If you have any questions about event greening, or would like to subscribe to the Event Greening Forum’s monthly newsletter for information and advice, please visit www.eventgreening.co.za.