By Felicity Zadro
Innovative, visionary, practical, optimistic are a few words that come to mind when you talk with the sustainable warriors of our industry. Determined to make a difference and a living at the same time, they offer real and accessible solutions to developing sustainable practice in the events industry.
Their inspiration is compelling – sourced from around the world and from their own children. Whilst they highlight the need for education and leadership, their firm focus is on doing things better – today.
Our sustainable warriors:
Alison Drover: Director, The Alison Principal
Jane Fullerton-Smith: Director, Sustainable Event Solutions (SEMS)
Crystal James: Founder, Sustainable Gifts
Joyce Di Mascio: Head of Business Events Australia, Tourism Australia
What does sustainability mean in business?
The efficient and effective use of resources and making changes to our business practices are themes that you’d expect to hear, however for these warriors sustainability is much more than that.
For Alison Drover it is going beyond sustaining. It is about ‘getting creative, improving, achieving outcomes. It’s about developing win-win solutions for communities and the environment.’
To Jane-Fullerton Smith sustainable business is logical and simple. However she also believes it is about getting people over the fear of change. ‘People are scared of sustainability because it means learning new things, they think it takes time and costs money. But it doesn’t mean that at all.’
Crystal James sees sustainability as ‘finding alternatives in order to develop products and services that help preserve natural resources and maintaining these choices at every step of the way.’
For Joyce Di Mascio it is about success on the triple bottom line. Sustainability is ‘the principles and practices which underpin the way a business operates to ensure it can succeed in the long-term on an economic, social and environmental level.’
Diverse experiences and opportunities have inspired these warriors to take the plunge and dedicate their careers and efforts to sustainability. Alison’s international events, cooking and marketing experience allowed her to see firsthand how the people of Tonga and France treated their food with respect and minimised waste. ‘I saw the beauty around the process to developing food, how they used it and how it drives their life. I saw food as a beacon for sustainability in events.’
Jane’s background in event and film production, writing and dance lead her to think that she had the story telling skills to communicate the importance of making a difference to or in the industry. ‘Sustainability started as an exciting story to tell, but now it is a passion.’
Through her experience as a tourism journalist, Crystal saw an opportunity to help promote Australia as a green destination. She believes the core of Australia’s green identity lies in sustainable business practices so she created Sustainable Gifts. ‘I wanted to make a cultural link between the custom of gift giving and products from all around Australia that tell a story of sustainability.’
For Joyce there is no other way forward, ‘I come from a strong background of working to ensure environment and community are nurtured, protected and enriched by the organisations with which I have been involved, for me there is no other option.’
What can their products or services provide the events industry?
Their tool box of sustainability is diverse, demonstrating the vastness of the opportunities at hand to support businesses develop sustainable practices. Alison’s sustainable practices with food offer creativity, connection and innovation to events. ‘I work with corporates, venues and event producers to redesign their events and the food. I focus on creating opportunities for people to enjoy the event by developing ways to engage and, connect them through food.’
SEMS, The Sustainable Event Management System is a tool for business and events that engages and educates the entire supplier chain. ‘SEMS offers the chance to benchmark, track data and trends and to manage sustainability. Only 10% of the tool looks at waste and carbon, there is another 90% of sustainability issues involved,’ says Jane.
Sustainable Gifts tailors products that promote or extend a company’s message of corporate social responsibility. For example, they sourced a magnetic torch with no batteries that linked to the larger picture and story of one client’s sustainability. ‘We were able to educate our client on what is possible and then give them the chance to communicate a message of sustainability to their delegates,’ says Crystal.
Business Events Australia uses its leadership to work with industry to embed sustainable business practices. ‘Under the Tourism Act, we have a duty to work towards developing a sustainable industry in Australia. We have made “sustainability” a core pillar of our brand – and we honour this element in all that we do,’ says Joyce.
What is their vision for the future of the meetings and events industry?
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