How to make an impact in a sustainable events world
Have you ever made a rash resolution after a particularly chaotic day? Such as how, from now on, you’ll get up a couple of hours earlier each day and use the time when you’d otherwise be asleep to do Really. Useful. Things. Perhaps go for a run, a swim even, heck! Why not do both? Make some bread, or maybe do a bit of housework? Why, you could beat the queues at the flower market and get the pick of the crop! All by 06.00 am?
Very nice, but is it sustainable?
It’s a very nice idea, and we don’t mean to be negative, but who actually does that? Or rather who can keep that up for longer than say, 3 days.
Now in the flower industry it is very easy to have moments of madness, putting spectacle over practical, such as suspending a thousand blousy peony flowers from a towering installation set within the glass walls of a baking hot orangery. Promising to tend to their delicate petals every single moment of the day and generally ignoring the voice in the head saying… “well yes this is a beautiful design, it looks amazing, but its not very sustainable is it?”. Like getting up a 4.00am each morning to bake bread, hanging delicate flowers in sub-tropical conditions may sound simple, but is it realistic?
Asking ourselves whether an is idea sustainable or not has become a bit of ‘a thing’ the team at Hybrid. For us, sustainability means creating something that will stand the test of time. We promise our clients something that will not only look beautiful, but will also last as long as the client needs it to.
And of course, there is the definition of sustainability in an environmental sense. This too has been preoccupying our minds at Hybrid: how can we ensure that what we do in the events industry is much more mindful of the environment.
We need to take part in this. Now is the time to honour our “is it sustainable” mantra and encourage people to think about ecological standards for future floral event design.
The show’s Director Clare McAndrew described the message of the two-day event thus:
Sustainability is not just about being green. It’s about running a commercially successful event that contributes to a stronger and more just society, whilst at the same time reducing its impact on environment.
Never ones to take a theme lightly, we wanted to do this justice. We were determined to create a super cool design concept which would stand the test of time whilst generating as little waste as possible. Our design was to be set in the ‘Heat Wave Room’, a space which encourages guests to consider the impact of global warming, and our creation was to be the centrepiece of Banking Hall, on their iconic grand staircase.
No pressure then!
We decided that we would not, under any circumstances, rush out and buy cut flowers solely for this event. Instead, we wanted lots of planted material, recycled containers, dried flowers, locally grown floral material and to recycle recently used flowers from previous displays.
Our mission was to bring these items together to form one strong visual look. The Heat Wave theme inspired us to create some kitsch looking designs, hinting at tropical motifs and mixing fun vibrant oranges, yellows, pinks and coral along with tropical greens.
And the result came to together perfectly! The design was a dream to put together and was created on-site in record time. We created bold striking shapes and achieved height with tall plants and props, all without the use of floral foam. We used huge recycled oil-drum containers painted in shades of orange and pink, some even wrapped in recycled astro-turf (note: this astro-turf had already been used countless times, but we still had reservations about whether to use it!). We borrowed plants from our wonderful plant supplier friends using gorgeous tall kentia, ficus, strelitzia and monstera plants surrounded with vibrant British grown orchids and begonia plants all of which could be used again after the show.
We used coconut shells as containers and painted dried tropical seed pods the most vibrant coral pink. Our next-door neighbours, the wonderful Pollen and Grace, gave us catering sized empty tins of coconut milk (the design of the labels just perfect for the event!) which would then go on to be recycled again after the show. All cut flowers had been pre-used in our past displays and had spent the previous week being admired in reception areas across the City.
The installation proved a talking point for many events professionals and wonderful backdrop for the brightly coloured and gloriously talented dancers from Ultimate Event Dancers.
At the end of the show, we were so surprised at how easy everything was to take down and remove from Banking Hall. Hardly anything needed to be thrown away; the tall plants went back to plant suppliers, the containers went on to be recycled, the orchids and begonias were donated locally, and the dried items stored away ready to be used again in the future.
And whilst there is always room for improvement, we were proud at what we had achieved and happy that we had challenged ourselves and in doing so, opened the minds of other events professionals. As to finding the answer to our favourite question “Is it sustainable?”, the answer to that was definite “Yes!”.
Ways to do your bit:
Clare McAndrew the Show Director adds:
“It’s easier than you think to add sustainable options to your event. First of all, question your current suppliers. Often suppliers although not branding themselves as sustainable although they may have lots of sustainable options that you may not be aware of. For example, can your florist provide you with seasonal or locally sourced flowers or potted plants that can be re-used after the event?
When printing materials opt for recyclable paper, if this is not available then check your paper is 100% FSC approved. This means that for every tonne of paper used they plant 2 tonnes of trees.”
All images courtesy of Splento