The Rise of the Trees

The world’s relationship with paper is not a healthy one. U.S. businesses use approximately four million tons of paper every year … That’s over 68,000,00 trees. Just think for a second how much that it is. Although hard to imagine, paper consumption is a genuine concern to the world’s future health.

Tom Dally, November 16, 2016

A Toxic Relationship

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Now whilst it would not be fair to deposit the entirety of the blame at the door of the events industry, without question there is a degree of accountability. Our notorious reputation is deserved; think back to your last event and ask how many pieces of paper were there lying around. Leaflets, sign in sheets, business cards, PPT handouts, a brochure, printed agendas … the list goes on and on. Thinking of it like this can help understand why the demand of paper is expected to double before 2030.

How did we get here?

We need to ask ourselves how things got this bad. With the growth of the events industry came an increased demand for the provision of resources at events. With event hosts wanting to cater to the wishes of their attendees, plus stand out within the expanding competition, the provision of paper based resources skyrocketed.

This was compounded by the growing expectation of attendees about what would be provided at events as an incentive measure. So not only do delegates want a free pen, notepad and handout, but they have come to expect it. Not such a great development for the trees.

Don’t forget as well that whilst the production of these resources certainly isn’t cheap, it’s not exactly a massive expense for firms with budgets large enough to put on the events. So all of this combined doesn’t provide a motivation for the event industry to cut its paper consumption.

Glimmer of hope?

So considering the dire environmental circumstances in which we now find ourselves, is there any hope for the events industry becoming more tree friendly?

Well, yes. Like many other industries we have been saved by the technological revolution meaning events have the potential to become more sustainable. This can be said for all stages of the event planning process. As technology developed, different types made it more widely available for event planners to use in a variety of ways.

Certainly, storage options developed and “the cloud” appeared like a shining saviour for the trees: options like Dropbox, Google Drive and Shoflo could replace that $2000 a year file cabinet by allowing team collaboration and continuous updating. This very expensive filing cabinet is now superfluous to requirements, and the trees can have a little bit of breathing space.

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With technology becoming more widely available meant that usage levels increased, raising awareness and developing into being more user friendly. This coincided with sustainability becoming trendy. Suddenly being environmentally friendly became fashionable; all for the better! Combination of these developments meant that the events industry really had no choice but to embrace the changes that were coming there way!

Tides of Change

So, considering the small steps being made, did this develop further? Well thankfully yes it has. All of the above factors paved the way for event technology to blossom into the exciting and evolving sector that it is today. More importantly, events being sustainable is now the norm rather than the minority.

Dedicated technology, such as Glisser, DoubleDutch, and Loopd, have revolutionised the events industry. By expanding on cloud based software to pool together various elements of the events industry, the trees have a future yet!

A large contributing factor in the rise in popularity in event tech is due to the increased awareness of environmental issues, specifically regarding use of paper and recycling. This has resulted in the widespread establishment of Event Sustainability Policy, with large amounts of event venues, managers, and other event professionals creating sustainability guidelines. Another win for the trains!

Fall of the paper trail?

It is unlikely that the events industry will ever be entirely paper free, but it has come on leaps and bounds. As detailed above, the events industry has somewhat reinvented itself with decreased paper waste becoming a top priority, meaning that paper usage will continue to drop. I think it’s safe to say that continued advances in technology and comfortability will be the trees’ saving grace and long may it be their saviour.

The main challenge? Has to be raising awareness of event tech. How can people embrace the solution if they don’t know what the solution is?

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