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Why Green Events Should Happen

I understand that corporate events are often challenging when it comes to “ooo’ing” and “ahhh’ing” the guests (partly because they are used to attending events), but when I read the recent online newsletter for Special Events Magazine, I couldn’t resist posting my response to showcase why green events matter.

The highlighted event, the BASF meeting, featured a building that was literally wrapped entirly in plastic wrap! The idea was to use “packaging” as a theme and to artistically express that throughout the event because the client, BASF, produces plastic for packaging. It’s a fun idea to want to wrap a building in plastic for sure…they even went as far as wrapping the surrounding trees as well (symbolism anyone?)…but I can’t help ask isn’t it a bit of a waste? — did anyone think about the wasted resources (plastic is made from precious, non-renewable oil) and where it would all go after the event?

Not only did they wrap 13,000 square feet of the building and the trees to showcase the “power of packaging,” but they also served a 10-course meal in individual wrapped dishes with their own “distinctive packaging.” (A green event no no!) Impressive as it must have been to be surrounded in packaging, I can’t stop myself from having a reaction here. WOW! It seems like the underlying message was “produce lots of plastic packaging.” Is that really what consumers want?

Packaging is a major player in the dilemma’s we’re now facing in keeping a sustainable planet, one that works with nature, not against it. Think about it…how often are you confident that your plastic packaging is getting recycled, or how often do you even know what plastic packaging is recyclable? I know I’m confused a lot, and I live in Ecotopia (Northern California).

Wal-Mart is even behind an initiative to reduce packaing. They are forcing all their suppliers to follow a Packaging Scorecard so as to reduce the amount of weight in trucking and emissions in the air. In fact, in 1991 Germany instituted the Green Dot System, specifically targeting reducing packaging waste by making it all recyclable, well designed packages got a green dot. (It’s funny then that this event took place in Ludwigshafen, Germany, where BASF is headquartered.)

Though the article didn’t say explicitly what happened to all this packaging after the event, I’m left concerned. Special events are meant to be impressive and inspiring, but without conscious thought to the end-of-life of a lot of the products used in producing large scale special events, they can be extremely wasteful. This is why I’m dedicated to inspiring a sustainable transformation within this industry, and why I believe green events need to happen!


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