Grace Stead is a sustainability practitioner and co-founder of the Event Greening Forum. While we are working on hosting responsible events, we often forget the huge impact of travel and accommodation. Grace Stead puts forward some important points for consideration.

Responsible tourism is about “making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit”, which includes the role of hotels, tour operators and event organisers. All year round, but especially during Tourism Month, they look at a few key points to ensuring our events also include responsible travel.

In South Africa, we tend to use single occupancy vehicles instead of carpooling, or catching public transport. This has a significant impact on the carbon footprint of an event, which is even higher when there are flights required for the event. One way of reducing the carbon footprint is to select a venue or accommodation close to public transport routes.

Consider the following key points when planning your next event:

  • Ask the right questions: Ask potential hotel establishments if they have an environmental policy. Do they recycle, use energy-efficient lights and have water-saving measures in place? Do they treat their staff fairly and implement ethical business practices? Ask a few key questions, to be incorporated into your decision-making.
  • Make an informed decision: Sometimes, it is not easy to establish the truth. To make things easier, there are organisations that ask the right questions and confirm the answers through a formal certification process. Look out for the Fair Trade Tourism, Green Leaf or Heritage certification labels.
  • Offsetyour impact: Sometimes, we can’t avoid the travelling, or the extra bed night, so the next best thing is to offset the environmental impact, specifically your carbon emissions. There are organisations that are set up to help you reduce your carbon footprint, and you can find more information at Carbon Protocol of South Africa.

By asking the right questions and making informed decisions, you can reduce the overall negative impact of the event, while helping to build a greener economy. By considering the accommodation and travel requirements in a responsible manner, we are able take event greening to beyond the event.