Imagine planning an event on a sun-kissed Mediterranean island full of artistic and culinary traditions, ancient history and natural treasures like Sicily… Whether you are planning a corporate conference, a family holiday tour, or a destination wedding, it’s essential to design and execute events in a sustainable and responsible manner. By doing so, you can help preserve the local environment and culture while creating a positive impact on the local community. Of course, you want to achieve all this while also organising a fabulous and memorable event or trip.
This is often easier said than done, with common mistakes lurking around the corner. So, how can you achieve this?
In today’s post, we share some common mistakes to avoid when planning a positive, sustainable event, followed by tips and strategies with the example of an event in Sicily.
Don’t: Add sustainability too late in the event planning process
Avoid approving a budget, booking a venue and setting an agenda without considering the aspect of sustainability. Too often, it is added in the process way too late, when important decisions have been made.
Do: Incorporate sustainable practices at the front-end of the planning process
One of the most important ways to create a positive impact event is by incorporating sustainable practices into every aspect of the planning and execution. This includes using eco-friendly materials, reducing waste, and implementing energy-efficient procedures. For example, you can use reusable water bottles instead of disposable plastic ones or digital event documents instead of printed ones.
Don’t: Do the bare minimum to call your event sustainable
Donating leftovers from your gala dinner to a local shelter and using fake flowers during your event are not enough to brand it as “green”. Go beyond the basics, after all sustainability is not only about the environment but also about the community where the event takes place.
Do: Embrace community engagement and responsible tourism
Engaging the local community is critical to creating an event that is meaningful and authentic. Partnering with local businesses, organisations, and artisans helps create a unique experience for attendees and supports the local economy. For instance, you can involve local artisans in creating event decorations, provide locally sourced food and drinks, or offer an area tour highlighting the community’s heritage. Encouraging responsible tourism practices is critical in creating a positive impact event. This includes being mindful of the local culture and customs (cultural sensitivity), opting for eco-friendly activities such as hiking, sailing and cycling, and choosing off-peak seasons and locally owned venues and businesses for your event.
Don’t: Be vague and fall in the greenwashing trap
Avoid marketing your event with buzz-words like net zero and CSR (corporate social responsibility) unless you understand the technical meaning of the words, apply them into your event and are able to educate your attendees about them.
Do: Get practical with conservation efforts
Most event destinations are home to a range of natural habitats and wildlife. Creating events that educate and inspire attendees to learn about and protect the environment is essential. Partnering with local conservation organisations can allow attendees to participate in eco-friendly activities like beach cleanups or tree planting.
A pragmatic example: how to plan a positive impact event in Sicily
As an example of a positive impact event, imagine you decide to host a company retreat in Sicily.
If you are based abroad, you might need the help of an expert destination management company that knows the local territory, its hidden gems and logistics challenges while also being committed to planning sustainable events.
Together, you select local businesses and suppliers that align with your event’s values and mission and work on a sustainability plan that highlights the beauty of the local environment while minimising any negative impact.
One important aspect is to choose locally owned and eco-friendly venues for your accommodation, business meetings and leisure activities. Since you are in Sicily, for maximum impact, you can select a charming rural estate with a farmhouse that offers accommodation. In this unusual and breathtaking location, your attendees can breathe the island’s history and be inspired by the splendour of their surroundings.
Some leisure activities can take place in the chosen venue, such as learning about ancient plantation and harvesting techniques or caring for farm animals.
To extend the meaningful experience and connect with the locals, you can plan relaxation activities in an artisan workshop!
Go beyond the famous Sicilian crafts of pottery and surprise your event attendees with a lesson on making pupi siciliani! Did you know that Sicilian puppets are one of the island’s most distinctive crafts? These elaborate handmade dolls depict knights from the Carolingian cycle, the heroes of Sicilian Puppet Theatre, listed in UNESCO’s oral and intangible cultural heritage list.
You can also engage local artists to create handmade souvenirs that reflect the local culture and your event. You can then use these to reward your guests at the end of your event: a lovely tangible gift in addition to the fantastic memories they will treasure forever! And if your artist is also an expert in creating artwork from recycled materials – like the artist we work with for our ECO-ART workshops in Sicily – then you will also positively impact the environment!
Exploring Sicily’s extensive nature parks is a fantastic way to get closer to nature and even local customs. For example, Nebrodi Park and its vast woods are alive with ancient traditions related to working the land, weaving and breeding. Imagine hiking around the park areas and meeting some locals, and learning their customs handed down by shepherds, charcoal burners, ceramic artisans and horse breeders. It’s a one-of-the-kind experience for your body and mind.
Need more inspiration and a local team to plan a sustainable event in Sicily?
Creating a positive impact event in Sicily requires careful planning and a commitment to sustainability, community engagement, cultural sensitivity, conservation, and responsible tourism. Our Italian Special Occasions DMC & Events team is an expert at incorporating these strategies to create an unforgettable experience for your guests!
Contact us: we are happy to offer you a free consultation and be your extra hand for your corporate or special occasion in Italy. You can reach us via email , phone +39 0564 813 473 or WhatsApp +39 329 769 2116.