Claudia Eicker-Harris, Director at Creative Directions, has always been concerned about social and environmental causes. Here she shares her thoughts on how event managers can make a difference.
I have been in the event industry for over 20 years and it is only now that I have opened my eyes to the excesses that we, as event managers and producers perpetuate.
It might not be us directly, but we facilitate a massive amount of waste to which we turn a blind eye. Food, flowers, paper, plastic - we use and discard these through hotels, venues, décor suppliers, gifting companies, and we take no responsibility for where the excess ends up.
But the outlook is not all negative. Organisations such as the Event Greening Forum are trying to change the way we do business in the event industry and I think it’s time that we support them and own up to what we’ve been doing for decades.
The great thing is that it’s really very easy to make small changes and even big steps that will make a huge difference not only for the environment, but for the people of South Africa. In fact, believe it or not, our industry could even become a valuable contributor towards environmental regeneration and community upliftment. By doing simple things like donating excess food to soup kitchens and homeless shelters and delivering cut flowers to old age homes and hospitals, we can make a significant difference in the lives of the less fortunate, while reducing our impact on the planet.
Planning ‘green’ in advance is beneficial. This means creating items that are either made by local communities such as beaded centrepieces and hand-made gifts, or items that go back into local communities. For example, using flowers that are not cut, such as orchids or succulents in soil, that can be planted in community gardens after an event.
In addition, offsetting carbon emissions by planting food gardens and trees is a great way to give back. A lot of people say they’ll do it, but how many people actually do? You can even do it at your clients’ offices on their pavement, with a sign saying, ‘Help Yourself’.
After a recent event we delivered excess food to St Martin’s-in-the-Veld and received the below email from them:
"St Martins would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest appreciation and thanks for the kindness you have shown by donating the food on Friday 2 March 2018. Sello received the food and the next day it was sent to St Aidan to be used for their Soup Kitchen. We were not able to keep it till Thursday when we usually have our soup kitchen but we most highly valued your thoughts of us."
(Kudakwashe Zendanemako, St Martin’s-in-the-Veld)
It’s a great feeling to know that you are somehow improving the lives of others, and Creative Directions would like to encourage other event managers to try it!