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Changing the Industry to Save The Planet.

Louise Goalen, Director of Venues at Top Banana shares the changes we need to see in the industry, in order to save our planet. From what major players in the industry are doing, to how we can think green, here’s what changes she thinks we need to look out for…

Sadly – 50% of plastics in the hospitality industry are still single-use and as an industry – we’re producing 289,700 tonnes of waste each year.

The world is waking up as messages of sustainability and eco-friendly alternatives flood our day to day lives. The industry is becoming increasingly aware of this, and we’re now starting to see real change across the event and hospitality sectors, with companies changing policies and going to new heights to be environmentally aware and show the importance that they place on CSR initiatives. This however isn’t only to benefit our planet, but also to satisfy a growing population of consumers who want to pay for hotels and experiences that consider the environment – as we continue to pass through the most environmentally conscious generation that we’ve ever had.

I’ve noticed significant change in the industry over the last several years, but there’s more that needs to be done. Here are the key environmental movements that I see as principal in fighting climate change in our industry and the things that you need to think about to keep green…

Reducing single use plastic.

We all know the problem with plastic, but recently there’s been a surge in venues offering eco-friendly alternatives. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts recently declared that all of its properties have gone plastic-straw free, while Nikki Beach Hotels have also created a “360 approach to sustainability” program, opting to stop using takeaway containers, reduce plastic packaging and straws, opt for recyclables and regularly hosts beach-cleaning events.

Airlines are also getting part of the action and since 2018, Alaskan Airlines have been plastic straw free in both their airport lounges and all flights. This was after they announced that in 2017, they used a huge 22 million plastic stir straws and drink cartons – just a snapshot of how much waste there is in the industry.

Alaska Airlines is inviting guests to #FillBeforeYouFly – a new initiative launched Sept. 12, 2019, that encourages guests and employees to bring their own water bottles and become active partners in the airline’s goal to reduce single-use plastics.

Making venues sustainable for our future.

Plastic pollution is just one part of the problem and some venues are already thinking ahead and making their hotels sustainable in other ways. The Planet 21 Programme joined by AccorHotels is a pledge to ensure that hotels are driving measurable change throughout their businesses – with promises such as guaranteeing endangered sea species aren’t being served on menus, as well as cleaning with eco-friendly products and providing eco-friendly soap, shampoos and conditioners. Hilton similarly have promised to halve their environmental impact by 2030 by making changes across their businesses that go beyond plastic waste.

Venues creating designated CSR programmes is a trend that’s rising, and it’s a welcomed advancement as it gives, we, the venue finders, a clear picture of a venue’s commitment to environmental change.

Creating an eco-friendly experience for delegates.

In the industry, we’re seeing delegate gifts, breakout sessions and incentive trips becoming more environmentally aware. Take a note from Bacardi’s no straw ‘the future doesn’t suck’ movement against plastic straws and stirrers. They’re removing the items from all of their company events and from their in-house happy hours alone, are expected to save 12,000 straws and stirrers from landfills annually. By making delegates aware of these changes, we can make them consider their actions and give people the opportunity to make more considered decisions. A huge event that took this stance in 2019 is Glastonbury, which announced that plastic water bottles were banned from the event and there was a bigger push than ever to get attendees to either bike into the festival or use public transport. Plant the seed in the minds of your delegates and who knows, they might take the lessons home with them and continue to make a difference!

Final thoughts.

Though it’s impossible to say if or when we’ll see universal change on these matters – there are things we can do now to start making a difference. The best place to start? Look into venues CSR policies before booking with them – and if they don’t have any, challenge them!

If delegates arrive and are greeted with plastic bottles and straws – you’re likely to get a few complaints from a very knowing and conscious generation. So always ask the question, push the boundaries and you could plant the seed in a venues mind to create real change.

Another way you can help is by reading up on a recent initiative by the MIA – #20percentless – which has been produced to promote sustainable and environmentally friendly operations, to encourage the meetings and events industry to take small steps to make a big difference. You can sign their pledge here and start helping our planet – today.

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