The Carbon Column – The Big Zero Show.

The Big Zero Show is happening today! A big event for future Net Zero. In this article I look at the sustainability of events and things to consider when setting one up.

Big Zero Report 2022

The Big Zero Show is happening today!

This is the first event we’ve put on since I joined future Net Zero. This is the first Big Zero Show and certainly won’t be the last.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, the UK and other countries went into lockdown. No events. No social gatherings, no festivals, no sporting events, no in-person conferences, networking or team building.

Since the world has started opening up, events are happening, all over the world. Attending events and socialising has become even more important to many.

It is certainly something I want to do more of.

Attending events can be carbon intensive. It requires lots of travel and accommodation. There is often a lot of waste and this is often single use, non-recycled items.

Events are important for bringing people together, especially when the topic of the event is net zero. Tackling climate change, one of the greatest challenges of our time, requires collaboration and communication across all industries. Bringing people together is crucial to ensure businesses and industries are aligned.

How can we make events more sustainable?

We need to consider all aspects. This can often be a challenge, finding a perfect place is not easy and not always possible. At the moment, there is a bit of a tradeoff, whilst venues understand and work towards how they can be more sustainable.

First, identifying the location for the event is key. Finding a location with good public transport access means people can ditch their cars and use public transport alternatives.

If people are still unable to access the location, making the event hybrid and recording the sessions is a good alternative. Creating a hybrid event can reduce carbon and is more inclusive.

Second, the food. People need to eat. Having catering to accommodate everyone is crucial. As someone that doesn’t eat meat or fish, I have had my fair share of experiences where I’ve not been able to eat or it has been an afterthought for the caterers.

One event in particular stands out. I explained to the chef I was vegetarian and he said don’t worry, we have something for you. They brought out grilled salmon. Not what I was expecting. Maybe I should have clarified I didn’t eat fish. Anyway, they took it away and brought it back, just without the salmon.

Anyway, these things happen. I understand education is an important part of these societal changes. Food is not spoken about enough when we talk about achieving net zero. Something I’ll talk more about in future articles.

Third, waste is key. Events typically use a lot of single use plastic. If the appropriate recycling infrastructure is not available, then this will lead to a lot of unnecessary waste being disposed of in landfill. Using a venue with a recycling strategy and avoids single use items can help mitigate the waste impact.

A final point to consider is the energy. What energy does the venue use? It’s perfect if the venue generates its own power but this is unlikely. The next best thing is a renewable power from an energy supplier. These are questions to ask when identifying the best venue for the event.

What about us?

I know The Big Zero Show considered all these things for the event tomorrow but it wasn’t easy and it isn’t perfect.

The CBS Arena is trying to move to more sustainable practices, plastics are limited to only what’s needed for food hygiene and it’s biodegradable. We had encouraged people to take trains but of course the strikes (which at the time of writing this are still on) have blown a big hole in that. We have lots of parking at the venue and hope you’ll offset your trip.

We as a team are all travelling together and will record all our mileage and offset our journey. We have spoken to all sponsors who are also accounting for their carbon.

One day all venues will be low carbon powered and we will be travelling my low emission transport to get there, not today but that doesn’t mean we mustn’t do the best we can.

Oh for fellow veggies like me, there will definitely be something to eat at the show!

We are moving in the right direction to ensure our events are as low impact on the environment but are the highest value for the delegates and sponsors.

If you’ve got thoughts on best practice for sustainable events, please get in touch. I would be keen to speak with you and discuss this topic further.

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