By Laurie Rosell-Magentie, global event manager
I thrive on the fast-paced production of a live face-to-face event. Building close community connections fuels my drive to create the most unique experiences for our customers, partners and employees. Despite my passion for this chosen profession, the consequence of producing high-impact events has at times weighed heavy on my heart.
The environmental price tag of the event industry can’t be ignored. Research suggests its annual carbon footprint is responsible for more than 10% of global CO2 emissions, which equals the entire yearly emissions of the United States. Not to mention the tons of waste left behind in the wake of even a single live event.
Reducing our environmental impact is core to our values here at Scality. In 2023, we achieved a silver-level EcoVadis rating and now sit in the top 25% of all participating organizations. But we are not done. This past year I’ve worked with the Scality team to make our event production unique with more sustainable solutions.
We wondered: Could we make a greener corporate event? Could we keep it fun and interesting? Would attendees still like it, even if they didn’t get their favorite giveaways?
5 decisions pave the path to a new green event strategy
We started by experimenting with our annual customer event, Scality Day in Paris. Below are the small decisions we made to enact change for a more sustainable event.To start, we picked a venue, Les Salons de l’Aveyron, that has received certification for its sustainable events practices.
Decision #1: Plastic gets a hard pass
Think about the trade shows you’ve attended. You probably left with a plastic-covered name badge, a water bottle or two, a handful of pens, and maybe a few other plastic tchotchkes that are still stuffed in your junk drawer.
One study found that 40% of corporate gifts – including sweatshirts, mugs and countless plastic trinkets – end up in the trash and landfills. A World Economic Forum report found that corporate gifting contributes to nearly 40 million tons of plastic waste generated annually in the U.S. alone. Granted that’s not all from events, but tradeshows and conferences do contribute a lot to the plastic problem.
It’s not just giveaways; it’s the plastic insert your conference badge fits into, the plastic lanyard it hangs from, and all the countless plastic cups and utensils attendees use. It quickly adds up.
So, reducing plastic was a big goal for us. For Scality Day Paris, we picked a venue that didn’t use plastic utensils and cups. We also made sure there were recycling bins all around, and we put the kibosh on plastic water bottles.
We also asked our sponsors to nix the plastic giveaways – a policy we also followed.
Decision #2: Consider the details – start by planting your name badge
Impact starts with the smallest details. Instead of using disposable badges and plastic covers, we decided to print badges made of recyclable paper with a variety of plant seeds embedded. Instead of plastic or nylon cords/lanyards, we offered a fiber-based lanyard for people to hang their badges around their necks. Stylish and sustainable!
The badge became an icebreaker and conversation-starter. People thought it was a cool idea, and it generated many opportunities for discussion that otherwise wouldn’t have taken place.
Decision #3: Bidding adieu to e-waste
We also offered e-waste recycling at the event for things like old computer cords, mice, and those small electronics accessories that we all hold onto but have no use for. Attendees were encouraged to add their e-waste to our special recycling bin. It was a fun way to get people thinking, and it’s something we’ll look to expand in the future. We collaborated on this project with Cèdre, the French waste management and recycling company that provides recycling services in our Paris office. Cèdre was founded in 2005 with a dual mission to help protect the environment and create jobs for individuals with disabilities.
Decision #4: Knickknack-free zone
You can only have so many water bottles, pens and keychains. We decided to forgo the swag and instead allocated money for micro-financing nonprofits.
Customers and partners were invited to vote from a selection of charities that Scality would donate to, thanks to the help of a platform called Captain Cause (it also offers customers and partners a chance to make small donations directly). Throughout the venue, we posted signs with a QR code that people could scan to vote for their favorite nonprofit to receive a donation.
It became fun and interactive for attendees and as people exited, we encouraged them to vote. People really got into it. One attendee, an avid scuba diver, selected a charity focused on oceans and told us how that really spoke to them – it mattered. We got brilliant feedback. (A hearty shoutout to Scality’s Lucie Gouanelle Gardette for making this happen!)
Decision #5: Sustainable gift-giving
At the end of the day, everyone still appreciates a little souvenir, right? We decided to provide a treat that celebrated our home country of France – a little jar of jam, chocolates or other food item from the Aveyron region in the southeast of the country.
Small steps for a big world
We’re on a journey to reduce our environmental impact and that includes making our events greener. The ideas we tested with customers at last year’s Scality Day are just the tip of the iceberg. We look forward to finding new and additional ways to continue this “green” shift.
Every journey begins with a small step first, and everyone has a role to play. So, what are some ways you can make your daily work and life routines greener?
Want to learn more about some of our efforts to help reduce our carbon footprint? Find out about our work with ClimateFresk and Reforest’Action, just two of the many organizations our Scality team has engaged in our ongoing efforts.