Each month we shine the light on an Event Greening Forum member who is making noteworthy achievements in their event greening efforts. This month we feature Lisa Jade Merven, the founder of GingerBiscuit, a sustainable event management and consulting company.
Q: When and why did you start to develop an awareness about sustainability – and a desire to champion it?
A: I have always wanted to make a difference in the world, contribute to it being a better place and to be of service. Being a creative I initially struggled to find my footing. My mother works with an NPO dealing with sustainability, so I was exposed to it from a young age. Unsure of how to link the two main passions I have in life, I went through a very rough period and through that the concept of GingerBiscuit was born – a fun, funky, innovative way that allows me to express my creativity, while still focusing on my love for sustainability and all things “green”, through sustainable event management, event greening and consulting. GingerBiscuit is literally my brainchild and heart on a platter for all the world to see.
As the saying goes, what is seen can never be unseen. Knowing what I know now about sustainable living, sustainability as a whole, and also the issues that we face as humanity today, I could not, and cannot, take part in an event through GingerBiscuit while carrying on with “the old way”.
Q: Your business, GingerBiscuit, is specifically targeted at offering a sustainable service. Why did you decide to ‘limit’ your business in this way?
A: I love the events industry and have a deep passion and respect for it, as events are essentially a platform to engage with audiences on an emotional level and tell a story – much like what theater represents to me. Events also have the ability to reach many people at one time, from various walks of life. That’s gold, and an exceptionally powerful tool. Having said that, I still wanted to make a difference on a deeper level and highlight the challenges that we face today.
As the saying goes, what is seen can never be unseen. Knowing what I know now about sustainable living, sustainability as a whole, and also the issues that we face as humanity today, I could not, and cannot, take part in an event through GingerBiscuit while carrying on with “the old way”. It goes against everything that I believe in. I have in the past site managed for colleagues from other event companies that still focus on “normal” events, and it motivated me even more as a person. This benefited GingerBiscuit, to see the amount of things that we can improve on as event organizers and PCOs, to really make a difference in the world.
I do not see any other way moving forward for the MICE industry to operate. We can no longer turn a blind eye to what is happening around us, and being in this industry really gives us the opportunity to light the way and create awareness and action around sustainability – to live what we believe in. So limiting GingerBiscuit in this way is really not at all a limit to me, but rather all about living ones truth and passion despite the obstacles, which could become opportunities.
Q: How have people responded to the sustainability ethos of your brand?
A: People are generally very intrigued by it.
I am a firm believer in the good that exists in humanity, while some call me naïve, I am very aware of the atrocities that happen on a minute by minute basis around the world, I choose rather to focus on the compassion, empathy and kindness that I see, and it is reflected largely whenever I talk to people about GingerBiscuit and what it stands for. People get excited, they come alive, knowing that they can make a difference.
The skeptics still exist though, and they are the ones that actually help grow both myself and the company, as they challenge me to do better, think bigger and keep evolving.
I have also found that the initiative to move into an event greening space is owned primarily by the companies and individuals that pride themselves on being the trendsetters within their markets.
Q: What are some of the common challenges you think green service providers face in the events industry?
A: One would definitely be the access to sustainable and “green” suppliers within the industry, and by that I mean actual products that are designed for this purpose. Of course with this factor taken into account and where we sit currently, pricing also comes into play, as it is a niche market at present.
I have also found that the initiative to take the step to move into an event greening space from a client’s perspective, is owned primarily at this stage by the companies and individuals that pride themselves on being the trendsetters within their markets. So while people are excited by the prospect of sustainable events, they need more exposure to it and the benefits of hosting such events, in order to buy in completely. This would be another component of a comprehensive strategic focus by clients who are committed to transforming to a sustainable business given that we have entered a carbon and resource constrained world.
Q: And what advantages do they wield?
A: Our challenges are our greatest opportunities for us to grow as an industry, as they really are just that – opportunities.
Looking at what I have said above, I believe the market is wide open at present for passionate green entrepreneurs and individuals to take the market by storm, and grow the economy in this sector with some truly dynamic and creative innovations and products. If more demand is there for it, which will come as more clients understand the imperative to transform behavior, it also will give existing suppliers the opportunity to invest and adopt new ways of thinking and operating – a ripple effect so to speak, which is exactly what we want.
Once that starts to happen, and people have seen the tangible effects that a sustainable event can have from experiencing them through the trendsetters, then I believe that we can really get the ball rolling.
Q: If you could, what one thing would you most like to change about the SA MICE events industry?
In order for us to move forward as an industry, within this space, we have to work together and unite for common goals.
We are all in the same boat, and to really have an impact we need to get at this together.
It’s about the collective, not the individual.
There is true magic in unity.
To find out more about GingerBiscuit, you can view their profile here.