Pioneering Sustainable Events with Technology and Expert Insights

6Connex recently hosted a thought-provoking webinar, "Raising the Bar: Achieving Sustainable Events through Innovative Technologies and Expert Insights," co-hosted by MUSE (Members United for Sustainable Events). It brought a distinguished panel of industry experts and thought leaders together to explore the intersection of technology and sustainability in event planning. Passionate advocates for sustainability in events who shared their valuable knowledge and insights to help viewers create greener, more impactful events.

The webinar featured a lineup of esteemed speakers, including Michele Fox, Founder of MUSE, Lara Mehanna, Founder of Why Not Sustainable, Eduardo Lebre, Founder of Circular Unity; and our very own Luiz Martins, CMO of 6Connex. Together, these experts shed light on the importance of adopting innovative strategies and leveraging technology to achieve sustainable event goals.

Throughout the webinar, participants gained access to cutting-edge strategies, innovative tools, and real-world best practices that demonstrated how technology can be harnessed to create sustainable events. The panelists engaged in an interactive Q&A session, addressing specific questions and challenges, ensuring that attendees left the event equipped with the knowledge and inspiration to raise the bar and make a positive impact on the environment through their future events. 

But before we get into the technical stuff, let’s cover some basics…

sustainable events webinar

What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is a principle that involves balancing our current needs with those of future generations. It's about creating an equilibrium between environmental protection, economic growth, and social equity. Strategies for achieving sustainability include adopting renewable energy, reducing waste, promoting plant-based diets, and implementing policies to control population growth. The goal is to ensure that the resources and conditions we enjoy today remain available for future generations.

What are the 3 Pillars of Sustainability?

  1. Economic Sustainability: This pillar focuses on ensuring economic growth and stability without degrading the environment or social equity. It involves practices like responsible consumption, green business models, and economic policies that decouple growth from environmental degradation.
  2. Environmental Sustainability: This involves protecting and preserving the natural environment and its resources. Key aspects include biodiversity conservation, waste management, and the use of renewable rather than non-renewable resources.
  3. Social Sustainability: This involves promoting equity, fairness, and social inclusion. It focuses on human rights, labor rights, community development, and social justice. It's about ensuring everyone has access to basic services and the opportunity to improve their quality of life.

In the context of sustainability, these three pillars are interdependent, meaning that they need to be balanced and considered together to achieve truly sustainable outcomes. These pillars are also known as ​​profits, planet, and people.

How Does Sustainability Work?

It's all about taking care of our world so it can take care of us, now and in the future. It's smart energy use, like choosing wind or solar over fossil fuels. It's eco-friendly farming that loves our soil and biodiversity. It's saying yes to recycling and no to unnecessary waste. It's driving less, biking more, and cheering on electric vehicles. And it's policies that care as much about our environment as our economy. Simply put, sustainability is us being the best stewards of our world for today and tomorrow.

What are the Benefits of Sustainability?

Being sustainable comes with a host of benefits, including:

  • Saving Resources: Sustainable practices help conserve our planet's limited resources, ensuring they are available for future generations
  • Helping the Planet: Sustainability aids in reducing pollution, combating climate change, and preserving biodiversity, leading to a healthier planet.
  • Better Business: Sustainable business practices can lead to operational efficiency, cost savings, and new market opportunities. Plus, the growth of green industries means more jobs.
  • Happier Lives: Sustainability promotes fairness and access to resources, leading to healthier, more vibrant communities. It emphasizes clean air and water, nutritious food, and green spaces, all of which contribute to our well-being and happiness.
  • Staying Strong: Sustainable practices make our societies more resilient. By taking care of our environment and promoting social equality, we build stronger, more adaptable communities.
  • A Gift for the Future: Most importantly, sustainability means a better world for future generations.

For instance, 6Connex partnered with WSP and conducted a study on the environmental impact of pivoting from an in-person event to a virtual one. In one case, a customer converted their 1-day, 9,000+ attendee event into a virtual event format, resulting in a total saving of 3,406 carbon emissions. This is equivalent to saving 4,173 acres of US forest—a significant achievement.

Our event technology platform and in-person mobile event apps have helped many businesses save on carbon emissions and minimize their environmental impact while still providing an engaging event experience to their attendees.

Download the full sustainability report here.

What is Sustainable Technology?

Sustainable technology refers to technology that can harness the power of nature with renewable energy tech. They're all about making the world a better place.

  • Get Smart with Energy Efficiency: Say hello to LED lighting, high-efficiency appliances, and clever thermostats that learn your habits. Less energy use, same great comfort.
  • Waste Not with Advanced Waste Management: Composting systems, recycling tech, water purifiers - they're all about getting more from less and giving back to our planet.
  • Revolutionize Your Ride with Green Transportation: Electric vehicles, fuel-sippers, and smooth public transit are redefining how we move. It's all about going places without leaving a mark.
  • Grow the Future with Sustainable Agriculture: Precision farming, organic practices, vertical farms - these aren't your grandpa's agriculture. They're producing food in ways that make our Earth smile.

Unlocking the Path to Sustainable Events: Expert Insights Strategies

We gained some top tips from the sustainability expert Michele Fox, Founder of MUSE (Members United for Sustainable Events as she answered some of our attendees' top questions during the webinar. 

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What are Some Great Plastic Alternative Ideas?

The issue is with “single-use” plastics. It’s okay to use reusable plastics, like reusable cups, of course (like TURN). Have a water station instead of water bottles like Wallop Water. Some great plastic alternative ideas include single-use cutlery or plates made of bamboo, fallen palm leaf, or bagasse. Ensure to compost or recycle any materials that can be instead of throwing them in a landfill.

Other plastic alternatives include reusable straws, biodegradable organic cotton bags, borosilicate glass bottles, reusable sandwich and snack bags, and reusable cotton tea bags, just to name a few. These items are great alternatives for reducing single-use plastic waste.

What are the Reasons Often Seen for Not Being Sustainable?

One of the main reasons often cited is the need for more time faced by busy event producers. Juggling multiple responsibilities and tight timelines can make it challenging to prioritize sustainability efforts. However, the key is to recognize the importance of starting early in the planning process. By incorporating sustainability from the beginning, event producers can overcome time constraints and seamlessly integrate sustainable practices. 

sustainability ebook

In our e-book, "How Sustainability is Shaping the Future of Events," Michelle provides valuable advice, emphasizing the significance of acknowledging that most people are new to sustainability and that we all begin at a similar starting point. An easy first step is engaging in conversations with vendors and suppliers to explore the sustainable options they already offer, such as reusable dishware instead of single-use plastics.

Another significant obstacle is the need for more awareness about available resources. Networking with other event planners within the industry can be tremendously beneficial in this regard. In our sustainability e-book, Mercedes M. Hunt, Ph.D., Director of Energy and Sustainability at Marriott International emphasizes the abundance of amazing resources at our fingertips. Connecting with experienced professionals in the field allows for learning, idea-sharing, and avoiding the need to reinvent the wheel.

A Sustainable Technology

Here at 6Connex, our technology is designed with sustainability at its core. As a fully remote company, we have already reduced the environmental impact of daily commutes. Our platform further extends this commitment to sustainability by enabling organizations worldwide to host virtual, hybrid, and in-person events, thereby significantly reducing the carbon footprint associated with each event format.

To quantify the positive impact of our sustainability efforts, 6Connex has partnered with WSP, an ISO 14001-certified earth and environmental science firm, to estimate the carbon emissions avoided by using our platform. This commitment to sustainability is not just about reducing carbon emissions but also about promoting environmentally friendly practices in the event industry. In essence, our technology is a powerful tool for organizations looking to make their events more sustainable and reduce their overall environmental impact.

A Sustainable Resource Hub

MUSE serves as a valuable hub of sustainable resources, offering a wealth of content and a Sustainable Vendor Directory with over 550 suppliers. This directory consolidates various sustainable options, ranging from reusable drinkware to carbon offsetting and sustainable venues. By joining MUSE, event producers gain access to a comprehensive array of resources conveniently gathered in one place.

Overcoming these challenges requires a proactive approach and a willingness to explore available resources and networks. By starting early, engaging with vendors, and leveraging the support of organizations like MUSE, event producers can confidently embark on their sustainability journey. Together, we can drive change and shape a future where sustainability becomes an integral part of every event.

What are the Low-Hanging Fruits When Introducing Sustainable Efforts into the Event Strategy?

  • Begin Early. Start thinking about sustainability early in the planning process. One of the most effective ways to integrate sustainability into your event strategy is by incorporating it from the very beginning. By considering sustainability during the initial stages of event planning, you can identify opportunities to minimize environmental impact, optimize resource usage, and make sustainable choices throughout the entire event lifecycle.
  • Talk to all of your vendors. Take the initiative to have conversations with all of your vendors and suppliers. Ask them about their sustainability practices and how they can contribute to making your event more eco-friendly. Encourage them to adopt sustainable initiatives and provide suggestions on how they can improve their practices. By fostering these dialogues, you can align your event with like-minded vendors who share your sustainability goals.
  • Hire vendors that are already incorporating sustainable initiatives. Look for vendors who actively embrace eco-friendly practices, such as minimizing waste, using sustainable materials, or utilizing renewable energy sources. Thomas Preti Events to Savor in New York City is an example of a vendor that is known for their commitment to sustainability. By partnering with such vendors, you can ensure that sustainability is ingrained throughout various aspects of your event.
  • Find a technology to support your need. Embrace technology solutions like 6Connex that are designed with sustainability at their core. 6Connex's platform is versatile, supporting in-person, virtual, and hybrid events, thus catering to a wide range of event formats. This flexibility allows for significant reductions in environmental impact as well as catering to a larger audience. Moreover, 6Connex's platform allows for the digitization of event experiences, which can significantly reduce paper usage. For example, digital registration and ticketing eliminate the need for printed tickets, while digital brochures and programs can replace their printed counterparts. On-demand content availability reduces the need for repeat presentations, saving energy and resources.

By implementing these low-hanging fruits, you can make immediate strides toward a more sustainable event. Remember, even small changes can have a significant cumulative impact. By starting early, engaging with vendors, and aligning with sustainable-minded partners, you will be on the right path to creating an event that reflects your commitment to sustainability.

How Can We Achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for and with Social Collaboration?

Achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires collective efforts and social collaboration. By engaging in collaborative initiatives, events can make a significant contribution to the attainment of SDGs. Here are some ideas on how to achieve SDGs through social collaboration:

  • Donate event materials to local creative reuse organizations: Instead of discarding event materials, consider donating them to organizations dedicated to creative reuse. For example, Materials for the Arts in New York City accepts donations of various event materials, which can be repurposed and utilized by artists, educators, and community organizations. This collaborative approach not only reduces waste but also supports local creativity and resourcefulness.
  • Donate prepared but unserved food to local food rescue organizations: Food waste is a significant issue, and events often generate surplus food. Instead of letting it go to waste, collaborate with local food rescue organizations that can redistribute the food to those in need. By donating prepared but unserved food, events can help combat hunger and contribute to creating a more equitable and sustainable society.
  • Donate event materials to local schools: Consider donating event materials, such as decorations, signage, or equipment, to local schools. These materials can be repurposed for educational purposes, art projects, or extracurricular activities, benefiting both students and the environment. Collaborating with schools fosters community engagement and supports educational initiatives while reducing waste.
  • Collaborate with non-profit organizations: Look for opportunities to collaborate with non-profit organizations that align with your event's goals and SDGs. This could involve partnering with organizations focused on environmental conservation, social justice, or community development. By working together, events and non-profit organizations can leverage each other's resources, expertise, and networks to create a more substantial and sustainable impact.

Exploring collaborations with non-profit organizations can yield invaluable insights and success stories. For instance, the interview with the Executive Director of the Council for Responsible Sport delves into major sports events collaborating with non-profit organizations. Learning from these experiences can inspire event planners to develop similar partnerships and create meaningful change within their own events.

By leveraging social collaboration and embracing these ideas, events can make tangible progress toward achieving SDGs. Through collaboration with local organizations, schools, and nonprofits, events can contribute to sustainability, social well-being, and community development.

One of the Most Effective Tools we Have is Making a Business Case for Sustainability with ROI. What are Some Case Studies That Include ROI?

Sustainability can yield significant returns on investment (ROI), as shown by several compelling case studies found on MeetGreen:

  1. Food Waste Summit 2023: Learn how this summit saved 2,000 kgs of waste through its event efforts.
  2. ROSCon 2022: By hosting this event in the same location as another conference, travel emissions were significantly reduced​.
  3. IMEX Frankfurt 2022: Achievements included 100% renewable energy usage, 99.5% waste diversion from landfill, and recycling or reusing 95% of service ware​.
  4. 2022 MeetGreen Staff Retreat: Sustainable practices led to a 93% diversion rate from landfill​.
  5. IMEX America 2021: This event achieved a zero-waste rating and implemented sustainable food and carbon emissions menu coding​.
  6. CleanMed 2022: Virtual attendance options reduced CO2 emissions by 18,206 kg​.

These cases demonstrate that sustainable practices can both protect the environment and benefit businesses. To learn more about how sustainability can drive ROI, read more here and be sure to click "Read the Case Study" to see the full PDF versions.

A 6Connex Business Case

Conferences for Women, a female-led leadership company based in Philadelphia, PA, USA, made significant strides in reducing their carbon footprint when using the 6Connex event management platform. Their one-day event, which attracted 8,796 attendees, demonstrated the potential of virtual events in terms of both environmental and cost savings.

The virtual event resulted in a total emission of 84 mtCO2e, a stark contrast to the 2,331 mtCO2e that would have been emitted by a physical event. This means that the virtual event saved a total of 2,247 mtCO2e in emissions.

To put these savings into perspective, transforming this event from in-person to virtual is equivalent to preserving 2,753 acres of US forests. This demonstrates the significant potential of virtual events in reducing our carbon footprint and contributing to a more sustainable future.

As a result of these staggering statistics, the company has decided to continue offering virtual components in their future events. Read our full report here.

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Go Green with These Additional Resources

Find more valuable resources from Lara Mehanna, Founder of Why Not Sustainable, and Michele Fox, Founder of MUSE.

  • An examination of scholarly literature regarding sustainability initiatives and corporate performance revealed that out of 200 studies reviewed, 90% of them concluded that sound ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) standards result in a reduction in the cost of capital. - Harvard Business Review
  • According to research conducted by McKinsey, there is a strong connection between a company's resource efficiency and its financial performance. The study discovered that by cutting resource expenses, a company has the potential to enhance operating profits by as much as 60%. - McKinsey
  • Through a notable enhancement in fuel efficiency of approximately 87% from 2005 to 2014, Walmart successfully circumvented the emission of 15,000 metric tons of CO2 and achieved savings of nearly $11 million within a single year. - Harvard Business Review
  • Companies that combine high levels of innovation with a focus on "sustainability and trust" outperform their industry peers. They achieve operating profits that are 3.1% higher and provide greater returns for shareholders. However, companies that excel only in innovation see minimal impact on their operating performance. - Accenture
  • Through a commendable reduction of 32% in greenhouse gas emissions and a substantial decrease of 45% in water usage between 2004 and 2013, General Electric (GE) accomplished savings amounting to $300 million. - Harvard Business Review
  • 6Connex partnered with WSP, an ISO 14001-certified environmental science firm, to measure the positive impact of our sustainability efforts. We focused on estimating carbon emissions avoided from hosting events on our virtual platform. - 6Connex's Sustainability Report
  • Hear from sustainability experts on the latest trends in sustainability and learn more about the role events play in ecological health, featuring Pedro Pereira, Dan Sobrinkski, and Luiz Martins. - Driving Sustainability in 2023
  • Watch our on-demand webinar about the ultimate impact of offsetting carbon emissions by hosting events on the 6Connex platform featuring Luiz Martins. - Sustainability Webinar: Shaping A Greener Future with 6Connex
  • Learn in our e-book how small, thoughtful changes can significantly impact global carbon emissions and help you create sustainable events in the future. - How to Make Your Hybrid Event More Sustainable
  • Read about sustainable industry experts and thought leaders about the importance of sustainability in event planning and how it can shape the future of events. - How Sustainability is Shaping the Future of Events

Plastic Reduction Tips: A Campaign to Replace Plastic 

“By replacing or removing just 1 kg’s worth of plastic products/day from your sales, you would be diverting the equivalent of 10,000 small plastic water bottles from landfill/year!”

Here is a challenge you can join for Plastic Free July as a business or individual to measure your plastic footprint and take steps to replace placing plastic. Free group coaching calls will be available for assistance, sharing your experience, and suggestions. 

How to stop using plastic as a business? A challenge - Why Not Sustainable

sustainability page

Empowering Change: Transforming Events for a Sustainable Future

By embracing sustainable technology, collaborating with like-minded individuals and organizations, and implementing best practices, we have the power to transform the events landscape and contribute to a sustainable future. Let's carry forward the inspiration and lessons learned, working together to create a brighter, more sustainable events industry together.

Ready to explore how 6Connex’s sustainable technology can revolutionize your events? Schedule a consultation with us and discover how our innovative solutions can help you achieve your sustainability goals. Let's make a positive impact on the environment and create unforgettable, sustainable events.

Missed the webinar? No worries! We have made all the content available on demand here or click below to learn more from the experts that are pioneering the sustainability industry.

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