I’m a long-time sustainable events nerd, splitting my time between being in the field and writing up what I know about it. I’ve been on some of the biggest festivals and events in the world and involved in bringing to life ultra sustainable community events. Right now I’m all about circularity and innovations on look and overlay, scenic design etc, and I look forward to talking more about that!
We’re so happy to have you here today Meegan!
We can’t wait to get your expertise on how to make signage and graphics more sustainable for our events.
To kick things off, here are a couple of questions from me!
- In the planning process, what are the main things I should consider when making graphics and signage?
- What do you use to create your graphics and signage? And how do you make sure that they are sustainable?
When It comes to scenic design, what are some of the challenges you have found when trying to make them ultra sustainable?
Also, what would you say is the most enjoyable aspect about your current role?
Hi, finding the materials available locally is the biggest challenge. Supply is patchy. Matching materials with available local recycling. And of course for scenic design specifically, creating something that will disassemble in a way that facilitates recycling.
I’ve never thought about it actually. Working is so busy I don’t have time to think of how enjoyable it is!
Well that’s a broad question with a massively long and wide set of answers! The best thing to do is take a moment to read the analysis report we did which uncovered all the issues! Sustainable Look and Overlay - Reports PUBLIC ACCESS – Google Drive
I guess as with any type of purchasing, what it’s made from, who made it, where it was made, what’s the end of life plan.
Thanks for being here today!
Would you say there is enough coverage on sustainable graphics in terms of consumers knowing it is an available option? If not, do you have any ideas on how to increase this?
Have you noticed an increase in demand for them over the past few years?
Thank you! I’ll definitely check this analysis report out!
What would you say are some of the other challenges out there in terms of creating sustainable signage?
Are there any particular elements that needs to be considered more than others?
Hi, yes knowing it is an issue and not knowing where to get the solutions was one of the big pain points identified in our work on this so far. Have a look at the action plan and it lays out loads of ways to address this.
Event industry associations need to be talking about it.
Those that do well in this area, need to be sharing case studies and success.
We need to shake the tree and make the ‘general’ events people realise this is something they have to consider.
They don’t think twice about recycling, or water refill points now. We need them to realise that sustainable look and overlay is a problem to be worked on.
But first we need to know the extent of the issue. Barely any events are even measuring or reporting on this.
Do you have any tips on increasing the longevity of signage so it can be stored and reused multiple times?
It just depends on context, so no, not really one over the other.
Sourcing - what it’s made from
Recycling - can it be?
Volume - do you need it?
Innovation - what alternatives are there
You’ll need to use your context and experience to work out what’s the most important given your situation.
Feel free to ask a specific question and I can give a more specific answer?
I guess making sure you store them well? Don’t bend them? Protected from the elements? Common sense stuff. Do you have a specific example you’re trying to solve?
No I am afraid I don’t have a specific example. It was something that came up for a company I was working with. A lot of my recommendations were very much common sense ideas along with better organisation as it seemed like some things would go missing and then need replacing.
Thank you for your suggestions,
Thank you! I’m still thinking of a specific situation to apply.
But, can you give us an example of a previous event you’ve worked on?
How did you plan the graphics and signage for that?
Did you come into issues in terms of suppliers and manufacturing?
What did you consider for after the event - what to do with the signage etc?
I’m a sustainability specialist so I don’t plan the branding/signage etc myself.
But I know that finding sustainable suppliers is really difficult as the availability of solutions is very limited atm.
SAV (self adhesive vinyls) are so prevalent, but we shouldn’t be using PVC. PP is an option, more readily recyclable - but very difficult to find sign makers that use it.
rPET for textiles is ideal, but few production houses use it.
Banners and flags etc are not recyclable unless every element of them are made from the same type of plastic. So if you don’t do that, you have to cut out all the parts that aren’t the same as the main material.
Upshot? It takes EFFORT and COMMITMENT right now to be sustainable when it comes to look and overlay.
Only through enough events people making that effort and making that commitment to excellence, will we pull the demand up through the supply chain, meaning that the sustainable solutions will be more readily available.
It’s an identical problem in any product category when it comes to sustainable sourcing…
This is very interesting and helpful, thank you!
Effort and commitment definitely is something that everyone should have in order to create all aspects of an event sustainable, and not just in the signage too.
Another from me -
What innovations etc are you looking forward to or are hoping would be made for future creation of sustainable signage and graphics?
Innovations in materials, or especially in the habits that events signage planners and sponsors come up with in plastering logos all over the event site.
We need better ways of engagement that doesn’t make sponsors complicit in so much waste.
Paris 2024 are really working hard on the innovation space, so let’s see what comes onto the horizon.
As always, it’s a systems problem. If we create a new material, we need to create a new materials recovery system.
We’ll see things change on textiles in the UK and Europe soon. We have EPR regulations and commitments/requirements on textiles recovery. So this means that we will see more textiles recovery hubs and hopefully recycling in Europe.
Key to this is events to not only request rPET but to make sure they are feeding their textiles back into the circular materials system!
This is definitely something to keep an eye out for over the coming years!
Anyways, That’s a wrap folks! Thank you so much Meegan for joining us today and for sharing your knowledge and thanks to everyone for their questions.
If you have any other questions for Meegan you can message her on here at @MeeganJones.
Join us same time next week for another ‘Ask Me Anything’