The Last (plastic) Straw

05 Aug 19

What are you doing as a work place and as an individual to make the world a better place? Corporate Social Responsibility is more important than ever and no more so than in the live events industry. It’s no longer enough to stick a recycling bin in the corner - we all have a responsibility to reduce waste and reduce our impact on the environment and the world in every way we can.

Times are changing and we have to change with it – at the time of writing, the UK is seeing some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded, so we all need to start acting for change before we’re stuck working out of ice-filled paddling pools (actually that doesn’t sound too bad). An industry like ours has always been a huge contributor to the problems we are creating, from flying thousands of attendees across the globe, to endless printing of lanyards and stationery, countless plastic bottles of water, wasted food, and huge production power requirements. Like many others in our network, at TEN6 Creative we have recently taken a look at our processes to see what we can do, no matter how big or small, to help save our planet.

1. Waste Reduction

One of the easiest changes we are making is a conscious effort to eliminate unnecessary waste across all our live events. We are no longer promoting the use of plastic lanyards or badges, instead focusing on digital tablet options and utilising event apps for networking swapping contacts. We are running paperless registration through QR and phone scanning, and encouraging distribution of event literature (brochures, slides) via e-mail immediately post-event, rather than printed on chairs or at walk-out.

We are also discouraging the use of goodie-bags and giveaways unless focusing on sustainable and reusable products – not just no plastic bags, but no fidget-spinners, yo-yos, mint boxes or other useless plastic destined for the bin! Instead, we are suggesting sponsors and hosts contribute to a wellness activity, a healthy snack bar, a networking event or even a contribution to offset emissions for attendee travel.

Finally, we are working with our clients and logistics partners to create solutions to avoid or eliminate food waste. This includes closer monitoring of event numbers to prevent over-ordering, providing wrapped and sustainable packaged food that can be donated post-event, and offering higher levels of staffing at F&B stations so food can be made-to-order, rather than seeing 100 pre-made smoothies left aside and thrown away at the end of the day!

2. Power Reduction

Outside of travel, power contributes to the biggest proportion of an event’s carbon footprints. We are lucky to work with some incredibly forward-thinking production suppliers who share our commitment to CSR, and through them we are able to offer a number of reduced-energy options across the production and audio-visual elements of the event.

We are in the process of switching all our lighting and video offerings to lower-energy LED options, and aim to do the same across our audio offerings. We make conscious choices now to power-down our production systems overnight and when not in use, and where possible such as on outdoor events, we are beginning to offer renewable energy solutions such as solar-power to provide energy for smaller areas.

We are also working with venues and other suppliers to align our schedules and load-in times better to avoid the use of multiple trucks and transportation options for our production team and gear.

3. Venue Finding

We have been working hard building a global database of venues with a strong focus on sustainability, and we are happy to share and support these when our clients ask us for assistance in venue finding. This is based on their own CSR policies and initiatives, their waste and recycling options and their food and beverage provisions. We also look at the little details such as whether they offer digital room signage rather than printed frames for different spaces, and power-saving facilities throughout hotel rooms.

In addition, while we understand that glamorous venues and destinations are a big part of venue selection, particularly with incentives and reward events, we encourage clients where possible and where appropriate to think about attendee travel when considering venues; if 80% of your workforce is based in San Francisco, we would encourage looking at venues in the surrounding areas, and offer interactive, design and experiential approaches to transform your space and event into a “destination” without the thousands and thousands of unnecessary air miles!

4. International Events

At every stage of the supply chain, we have always made an effort to use local companies, local crew, small businesses and those who have a conscious focus on their sustainability and impact. With an increasing number of international projects in the pipeline, we are reaching out to more and more partners across the world to make connections and work with those who share our values.

We also support local charities, care homes and other facilities by donating all we can at the end of the event – everything from flowers and candles, to furniture and artworks! Additionally, we have storage units across the world to ensure we can store and reuse as much material as possible for booths, staging and decoration.

We are increasingly aware of the impact international travel has on the environment, and now run a travel “budget” from a CSR perspective as well as financial, limiting site-visits and meetings to essential staff only, encouraging clients and suppliers to work via online conference wherever possible, and increasing out pool of local staff at every location we frequent. Finally, we are now donating to a carbon offset charity every quarter to reduce our personal impact.

5. In the TEN6 Creative Office

Last but not least, we have taken a look at our own home office and processes to see what impact we can make. Every TEN6 Employee now has a tablet with additional resources available on-site, and printing of endless agendas and banqueting orders is actively discouraged. We also provide metal water bottles for every single staff member with re-filling stations in our offices and venues.

From a social perspective, we are in talks with the Mayor of London’s office to offer hands-on work experience opportunities within our design and production teams to young Londoners and recent graduates. We have also nominated our 2019/20 charitable partner as Buses for Homeless, a hugely important organisation to us, where we contribute not only financially, but in volunteer hours from every TEN6 Employee.

It seems like a lot, but since implementing these changes we have realised the big impact a number of small changes can make. We would love to talk more if you have suggestions for us, or if you’re striving to make your own agency, venue, or even personal output more sustainable.