Good times, positive impact

RMOW Environmental Coordinator

I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.  - EB White

Whistler folks are no strangers to having "one hell of a good time." We don't think twice about hosting the biggest parties in the world, but we also care about our backyard - as much as we like to party, we don't want to trash this place.

How do we plan and participate in events that are both fun, financially and fundamentally good for our community?

Lorien Henson is a founding partner of LimeLight Event Marketing Inc., a Vancouver-based sustainable event production company. In the early days of her career, Henson became acutely aware of the over-consumption and "disgusting amount of waste" associated with events.

"You've got to check your conscience at the door," said one boss. Hearing that, Henson checked out altogether to run an event business in a way that would make her feel good about what she was doing. Founding LimeLight with her partner Rachel Johns was a way of producing fun, creative events that had a positive instead of negative impact. To Henson, "sustainable" refers to taking a holistic approach right from the start, considering everything that goes into and out of an event, as well as the impact the event is going to have on the community and the environment.

"Whistler is positioned to be a real leader in sustainable events," said Henson. "Having a sustainability commitment within Whistler, and because of the size of the town, you'll be able to make good choices that will benefit your community and future event business."

The sustainable event landscape used to be something of a wild west with no map to follow. Now there are standards, such as those developed by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). The CSA Requirements and Guidance for Organizers of Sustainable Events is a 2010 Olympic legacy that Whistler played a significant role in, delivering the Whistler Live events here. It's a standard we should be proud of and uphold that is now going international as Henson is working as part of the international standard group ISO to develop ISO20121, the new global standard for sustainable event management.

"Good event planning is about making every choice, every decision with the smallest footprint in mind," she said.

Diana Mulvey is not a professional event planner, but planned her wedding with guest experience and community impact in mind. For Mulvey, sustainability is about "Local loving, Low Footprint," the theme of her wedding.

Whenever possible, Mulvey and husband Christian eliminated unnecessary expenditures and single-use items, avoiding paper invitations and disposable wedding favours. In lieu of gifts, guests purchased carbon credits to offset their travel or made a donation to their favourite charity. Last but not least, Mulvey had a dress created from sustainable fabrics like hemp and silk, with lace from her mother's dress.

Mulvey's experience demonstrates it's possible to plan a memorable and economical event using talent and materials found in your own backyard. The ecological footprint was minimized, while the local economy was stimulated.

"Try to align your values with your decisions," Mulvey said. Good advice for party planners and goers alike.

To KNOW MORE about other actions that are moving our community toward Whistler2020, to tell us how you're contributing, or to find out how we're performing visit www.whistler2020.ca

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