Member Spotlight: Lorin Bowen from Lorin Bowen Business Events

Each month we shine the light on an Event Greening Forum member who is making sustainable events a priority in their business practices. This month we want to introduce you to Lorin Bowen. It’s likely you know Lorin from her previous role as the SAACI GM, but a lot has happened since then and she now runs her own business providing conference, exhibition and event management services.

 

Q. IN TEN WORDS OF LESS, TELL US WHO LORIN BOWEN IS.
The person INVOLVED in everything I set my mind to.

 

Q. DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN AND WHY YOU DEVELOPED AN AWARENESS ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY, AND A DESIRE TO CHAMPION IT THROUGH YOUR WORK?
I actually don’t remember when but it all started when I found these funky recycling bins for home and bought them. At the time, recycling wasn’t really a topic of conversation or high on the agenda. They are just really cool bins (yes, we still have them). Since then we have implemented the Bokashi system at home for our food scraps as well.

 

Q. WHAT SUSTAINABILITY MEASURES HAVE YOU IMPLEMENTED AT YOUR COMPANY, LORIN BOWEN BUSINESS EVENTS?
We have a box for scrap paper next to the printer, we use natural lighting when possible and open the windows when it isn’t too hot or cold in the office. We encourage our clients to support sustainable suppliers for their conference collateral such as delegate bags, we look to support local suppliers and we suggest doing a greening audit with our clients.

 

Many of our clients work on a shoe string budget and find that implementing initiatives such as a greening audit is just too expensive and doesn’t fall within their budget.

 

Q. HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED ANY HURDLES WHEN IMPLEMENTING EVENT GREENING IN YOUR BUSINESS? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
Greening and sustainability is still not high on the agenda for events. Many of our clients work on a shoe string budget and find that implementing initiatives such as a greening audit is just too expensive and doesn’t fall within their budget. We do get it right with things such as sustainably sourced delegate bags and recycling bins at the event, but we fall short on getting the buy in from the venues to assist us in continuing with the chain once the rubbish leaves our recycle bins. I can’t say that we have overcome our challenges yet, they are ongoing with each of our clients. It is just a case of continuously reminding them of these efforts and what we are trying to achieve.

 

I have also learnt that greening and sustainability is more on our agenda than it is in other countries. For instance, I went to a conference for professional conference organisers in the United States at the beginning of the year and the topic was not even discussed, and small things that are so easy to implement, such as separating waste at source, were not implemented. I had the same experience in Russia.

 

Q. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST ‘GREEN’ ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?
It has to be when I worked for my previous employer and we received the award for the Greening Exhibition for several years in a row for Meetings Africa. It is always very cool to be recognised for the efforts put into a project. It certainly helped that we had a client like the South African National Convention Bureau who was behind the initiative and that the exhibitors and visitors participating bought into the concept.

 

Q. CAN YOU SHARE WITH US ONE THING YOU HAVE LEARNT ABOUT EVENT GREENING, WHICH HAS BEEN INVALUABLE TO YOU AND YOU WISH EVERYBODY KNEW.
If you want to do it – you can! It isn’t difficult, you just have to be committed and if you look hard enough you can find suppliers who offer quality products made sustainably. Not everyone who says they produce sustainably actually does, so you have to do a little research to ensure they are not just green washing.
I have also learnt that greening and sustainability is more on our agenda than it is in other countries. For instance, I went to a conference for professional conference organisers in the United States at the beginning of the year and the topic was not even discussed, and small things that are so easy to implement, such as separating waste at source, were not implemented. I had the same experience in Russia.

 

Q. IF YOU COULD WAVE A MAGIC WAND AND CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT THE SA MICE EVENTS INDUSTRY TO MAKE IT MORE SUSTAINABLE (SOCIALLY, ENVIRONMENTALLY OR EVEN ECONOMICALLY), WHAT WOULD THAT ONE THING BE?
If I could wave a magic wand and change one thing about the business events industry in general (not only in South Africa), it would be that all organisers, venues and suppliers had a policy around sustainability and greening which they updated regularly with new technologies available to us. That they actually used and implemented their policies and that it was mandatory for our clients to embrace the idea of a ‘green’ event. Is that one wish or two?

 

Start small or big – but start!

 

Q. ANY FINAL WORDS YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
It has to be done and we all have to drive it together. Start small or big – but start!

 

To learn more about Lorin Bowen Business Events, you can view its website here.

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