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THE BULB: BUILDING A SUSTAINABLE EVENTS INDUSTRY

THE GLOBAL GIRL SUMMIT, The Bulb

FOUNDED IN 2015 BY SELINA DONALD, THE BULB’s MISSION IS TO BRING A SUSTAINABLE APPROACH TO ALL TYPES OF EVENTS. A BUSINESS OF THE FUTURE, HERE WE DISCOVER MORE ABOUT THE BULB’S BIRTH AND JOURNEY.

Words By Léa Mouillot

THE NAKED HOUSE, Lush, The Bulb

The Bulb is a consultancy working with brands, event organisers, and charities to produce sustainable events. Joining Staiy on Instagram Live on the 4th August, Selina Donald chatted with us about her background in event planning, and the journey that led her, and The Bulb, to where they are today.

Selina’s inspiration came while working at the London 2012 Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Olympics (which to date, have been the most sustainable Olympic ceremonies), as well as for a number of other high profile projects, including the England 2018 World Cup Bid, COP23, the Rio Olympics 2016 and as part of the senior management team for the ITV events team. In 2015, she decided to take a new path and left her job at ITV to just “go for it”.

In effect, her experience seeing what was going on behind the scenes made her realise the enormous environmental impact the events she worked on were having. In fact, she says there is “a big gap” in sustainable impact between small scale events and big scale ones, which is why it is important to reshape our ways of celebrating (quality over quantity).

The notion of celebration is used to describe the action of taking part in an event. Knowing that, how can we keep celebrating while being sustainable? The Bulb’s primary mission is to help clients host events to keep celebrating while making sure the events are sustainable and safe. Selina explains they want “to highlight and educate people on the issues of sustainability in event planning, and provide people with tools to produce more sustainable events”, as well as “empower them to create brilliant sustainable and creative events and to show them that the two can go together (not one or the other).”

The Bulb works closely with various agencies that create and execute events, helping them develop sustainable strategies (how they organise events, how they measure their carbon footprint, what their waste systems are and so on). The expertise provided extends beyond the end of the event, ensuring sustainable initiatives last longer than just one day. Their consultancy paves the way toward sustainable options in the industry that can and should be implemented in the long-term industry wide.

“Events are the 5th biggest polluters in the world, after fashion” Selina stresses. Starting with events that worry about their impact, Selina uses what brings people together to elicit change. She emphasises the importance of focusing on the environmental or social impact at the heart of every event, from the early stages of creation. Selina tells us that she has always viewed “events as stages to getting across messages”.

On a more personal note, sustainability for her means “looking at people, culture, environment, economy and seeing how it can all work together, so you have a minimal impact on the environment”.

“you can empower people to bring about change and make more responsible decisions, thinking about how you use culture, so how we can bring about culture to bring about change.”

She finishes; “sustainability is about doing more with less”. For example, using new materials, processes and becoming more competitive in terms of efficiency and quality of events, while having a better impact on the environment. She adds that bringing social changes and being involved in social movements is also very important for her while preparing an event.

The businesses and organisations of tomorrow will be those already integrating sustainability across all of their practices, not as loose additional promises, while others will be left behind.The first step we can take to become more sustainable in the event industry in Selina’s opinion is to make responsible decisions from conceptualisation and curation of an event.

In order to do this, asking questions is crucial at every level. With regard to your supply chain (who you work with); do they support your sustainability practices? What materials are you or they using? Are they recyclable or reusable? Who are your suppliers and are they local? Are you shipping materials or products internationally? Measuring the carbon footprint at each stage is necessary to fully realise the events impact.

The Global Girl Summit, The Bulb

Questions must also be asked with regard to attendees; How are they getting to the event? How could you encourage a smaller carbon footprint for their attendance?

After an event, when everyone is exhausted and best practice may become relaxed, make sure a solid plan of action is in place that is easy to implement. Selina’s strategies all focus on efficiency, leaving nothing unquestioned.

A/W2018: LOST IN TOKYO,Schuh, The Bulb

As we continue to make our way through the Covid-19 pandemic, The Bulb recently released a guide on how we can balance sustainability moving forward post-Covid. The cruciality of increasing protections against the consequences of Covid is paramount to help our societies exit this crisis, and we must consider how we can do this while remaining sustainable, for example when using disposable PPE (face masks, gloves and other plastic).

#MARCH4WOMEN 2018

Selina invites us all to think: Where do our masks go afterwards? How can we eliminate this waste, and think about reusables on a mass market scale? Looking at recycling units near us and researching all the sustainable opportunities that can be taken. Ironically, when trying to protect ourselves through these difficult times, we are inflicting enormous damage to the environment, and in turn, ourselves.

Bringing our discussion to a close, we give consideration to the future with Selina. Events are a natural part of society for human interaction and sharing that will never disappear, she argues, though she explains it is time we pause and think of new ways to host and curate these events. Positively, she predicts that events will have an increasingly better purpose, focusing more on quality, rather than quantity.

As events are set to start again in October in the UK, she tells us she is working hard writing and researching to build innovative sustainable strategies to build the events of the future. Perhaps, Covid-19 and quarantine has been the wake call needed to initiate this period of adaptation.