Climate change is rapidly becoming the defining issue of our era. Thanks to storytellers like David Attenborough and climate activists such as Greta Thunberg, we’re finally beginning to understand the impact we’re having on wildlife and the environment. Thankfully, this raised awareness is now spurring people into action and hopefully we can repair at least some of the damage we’ve done.
Unfortunately, to date, the event industry hasn’t been the most sustainable of industries. Elaborate sets and exhibition stands are built for just a few days use, thousands of items of plastic merchandise are manufactured and quickly discarded, plastic cups, bottles and cutlery pile high, and mountains of food go to waste. There’s a lot that could be done to improve matters, and now’s the time to do it. But people are starting to make changes as we all feel more responsible for our impact on the environment.
One of the best ways of improving your event’s green credentials is to choose a venue with a sustainable ethic. London has plenty of extraordinary event venues, but we’ve drilled down to find those which are the most planet-friendly in everything they do – and the venues we’ve discovered are in many ways revolutionary in their approach to sustainability.
Perhaps the most exciting of these is the Crystal, located in London’s Docklands – a structure made entirely from glass, which claims to be one of the world’s most sustainable buildings. The fact that it isn’t the most central of locations is mitigated by its environmental credentials. Rainwater collected from the surface of the building is used for flushing the toilets, while the heating system is 100 percent natural, via a ground source heat pump. Solar panels generate electricity and it strives for zero percent landfill. All this means that emits 70 percent less CO2 than comparable office buildings in the UK.
Not far from the Crystal, the Good Hotel is an old floating prison that was converted into a luxurious sustainable hotel and shipped across from Amsterdam. It has been designed to benefit the local community, offering internships for the unemployed, redistributing unwanted food, using recyclable materials and local food and products, and working with ethical suppliers whenever possible. The company that runs it has another hotel in Guatemala, where it supports a number of schools.
For clients requiring a more central venue, we’ll be recommending the House of St Barnabas in Soho. This social business reinvests all its profits into an Employment Academy, with the aim of breaking the cycle of homelessness by delivering life and employment skills. The catering team at St Barnabas focuses on local and sustainably-sourced food.
Beyond venue choice, there are many other ways of creating eco-friendly events. For example, you could use a more sustainable set from a company that specialises in recycling high-quality set builds and re-using materials. Furthermore, you can appoint a company to come and collect any leftover food at the end of your event for redistribution in the local neighbourhood. This is a free service, so there’s really no reason not to do this.
Although there’s still a long way to go to make our industry truly sustainable, there are plenty of things we can all be doing now. And the more eco-friendly initiatives we support, the more other venues and suppliers will follow this lead – it’s time to become an agent of change rather than waiting for change simply to happen.
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