How to Plan Your Next Experiential Event More Sustainably
When we plan and create experiential events, we put so much thought into educating, inspiring and invigorating our audience that we don’t always have the time to understand how our activations will impact the environment. However, given the rapidly expanding effects of global climate change, we decided it was now or never to make a change. So, to kick off the action, we challenged ourselves to prioritize sustainability, resourcefulness, and reducing our carbon footprint at the Nike Go LA 10K earlier this year on Earth Day. With a few small steps, we were able to make a huge impact.
Source Locally, Source Sustainably
Understanding the impacts of purchasing decisions enables healthier choices, including focusing on local, regional and sustainable products and resources. If you can’t reuse it, lose it (or rent it). For the Nike GO LA 10k, we utilized materials that were durable, reusable, or rented. We also ensured water bottles and beer containers were recyclable, reusable or biodegradable. In the RFP’s we sent to our vendors, we also included a request for sustainability information (RFSI) to certify that we were sourcing event goods and services responsibly.
Bins, Watersheds and Carbon Credits
Not actual bus used, but we wish!
For GO LA, we focused on executing a solid waste management plan, which meant having ample recycle, compost, and trash bins. We also restored every gallon used during the event to threatened watersheds in the Southwest U.S. Lastly, we offered secure bicycle parking for those that wanted even more exercise for the day and purchased carbon offset credits from Bonneville Environmental Foundation to mitigate the environmental impacts of energy and water use that support renewable, emissions-free energy development and watershed health.
Get Them There AND Keep Air Clean
Alternative transportation was something we leaned on heavily to help cut unneeded carbon. We chose a transportation provider with a strong internal commitment to sustainability and made ridesharing easy and FREE. The buses we used were fueled by 95% compressed natural gas (CNG), meaning our 7000+ guests got to where they needed be and kept the air clean for our stunner runners. Also, Lyft offered promotional codes so attendees could carpool their way towards a cleaner environment. Even more, we implemented a youth engagement program which helped teenage participants from underrepresented areas sign up for the event and get shuttled right from their hometown to the starting line.
How Did it All Add Up?
So, how much Earth-saving did we really do?
- The bins we set up resulted in guests recycling and composting over 40% of all event waste.
- The CNG buses used had approximately 16% lower CO2 emissions per gallon than those from diesel buses.
- We helped to restore A LOT of water; we’re talkin’ 53,125 gallons to be exact.
- 513 people claimed promotional Lyft codes, and our youth engagement program helped provide 1,190 in-need youth with transportation and registrations totalling $59,500 in gifted value.
It wasn’t easy, but the extra work really did pay off. We strive for better at OBE, and an event that leaves a low carbon footprint is just one more way to help feel like we’re helping our community in some way. We’re still learning though and working to bring more sustainable practices into our process. 100% sustainable events is definitely a goal, but any impact we can have now, we think is a win.