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Let’s Face It. Sustainability Isn’t Sustainable

The hospitality, meetings and events industry took a big step backward in our sustainability efforts when COVID hit. One of the more obvious areas of reversal was in our quest to eliminate single-use plastics and disposable goods.

Overnight, any item touched by multiple people was considered dangerous, except for the pump dispenser of Purell, of course. Plastic water bottles had a renaissance, and the market for takeout packaging exploded.

We don’t know what the future holds for COVID and how we might need to respond, again. What we do know is that we’re heading down a dangerous path regarding earth’s long-term environmental health. We must act now.

As I’ve said in other contexts, the pandemic has given us an opportunity to rethink our priorities and practices in our “return to different.” This includes finding new ways to reverse our industry’s environmental impacts.

If we’re willing to look critically, we see a hard truth: simply working to sustain our ecosystems is not enough. We need to take a bigger, bolder approach toward regeneration. It’s a paradigm shift from doing no harm to nurturing and strengthening our planet’s environmental systems.

How do we take our events and experiences from environmentally friendly to sustainable to regenerative? We don’t have all the answers at Bespoke, but we’re looking at every piece of our work through this lens now.

This Saturday, one of our clients is hosting its annual, 400-person gala with all plant-based food. We’re also consulting with a client who’s developing a large residential and commercial community in California that will generate at least as much energy as it uses. Their many forward-thinking initiatives include Neighborhood Electric Vehicle charging
stations, rainwater collection, smart landscaping, a community garden and geothermal-heated buildings and pools.

As we pay special homage to our planet on Earth Day, we know that every day matters in the fight against climate change and environmental degradation. I’m excited for my industry to think big and act with intention in leading our communities forward toward a healthier, more thriving ecosystem. Let’s get after it.