Design events with sustainability as a core value
By Jorge J. J. Martínez
The MICE industry is being fully redesigned, and it is fundamental to include the sustainability factor. Today’s guest is Julia Spangler, sustainability consultant and proud member of MPI (Meetings Professionals International). She teaches the Sustainable Event Strategist certification course at MPI Academy.
Julia’s company, Ecosystem Events (based in Indiana, in the USA) helps events organizations and professionals reduce the ecological footprint of their meetings in order to help save our planet. Her efforts produce significant results. In 2019 she received MPI’s RISE Award in the category of Young Professional Achievement.
During her career, Julia has reduced waste at events with up to 24,000 attendees, including banquets, conventions, fairs and concerts. Her programs have helped events divert up to 93% of their waste.
MPI Academy’s Sustainable Event Strategist Certificate
As the educational arm of Meetings Professionals International, MPI Academy offers a wide range of classes with topics of real interest to MICE professionals. Its aim is to share the tools necessary to take on the challenges of the world’s “new normal.”
“One of the projects I enjoy most is teaching the Sustainable Event Strategist course, which I believe gives meetings professionals the best comprehensive overview of event sustainability,” says Julia Spangler.
The class covers conceptual aspects “What is sustainability and why does it matter to me as an event professional?” as well as specific actions and practical tips that meeting planners can put to use.
The four-hour, interactive, online course offers MICE professionals the following suggestions, among others:
Tips for Sustainable Meetings Today
1. Even during the pandemic it is not necessary to revert to single-use packaging as long as dishes, utensils, and glassware are handled properly and hygienically.
2. Using reusable supplies is one of the best ways to eliminate waste at events. Sustainable Event Alliance has produced an excellent guide to safely using reusable items. Click here to see it.
3. An easy way to reduce food waste (and save money) is to ask guests to indicate ahead of time which meals they will be attending during the event. In this way you can order precise quantities of food instead of assuming that every guest will attend each meal.
4. Make all gifts and promotional items optional, even for virtual events. Tell participants ahead of time what the gifts will be and give them the option of requesting them if desired.
Ecosystem Events: Creating the “As If” of sustainable events
Julia founded Ecosystem Events in 2015, coinciding with the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals initiative. Since then, her team has helped meeting planners keep more than 48,000 pounds of waste out of landfills and incinerators.
“My mission is to reduce the environmental impact of events so that we can have guilt-free gatherings that don’t damage the planet, which is our home. I work toward this mission in multiple ways,” said Ms. Spangler. Her main professional services include consulting on sustainably designed events and giving educational presentations to MICE professionals.
In central Indiana, where Julia lives, she helps coordinate the redistribution of events leftovers in the form of recycling, composting, and donation of unused food and supplies.