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INTERVIEW - Katrin, The Green Event Planner, post-confinement specials!

Hi Katrin,

it's very nice to have you back on OTB since we first introduced The Green Event Planner and the #52WeeklyActions!

We've been thinking for a while to catch up with people we interviewed here, to see how their projects have evolved since the first time we met. It's nice to have you here, you are the first one to join this series of interviews. How have you been doing so far, and what have you been working on?

Hi Marie, thank you so much for catching up! You were my very first interview when I founded The Green Event Planner back in 2018 and I still get a rush of excitement when I hop on your blog. A lot has happened since.

I launched my company, I became a certified sustainable event professional by the Events Industry Council, I wrote eBooks about sustainable event practices, hosted two networking events for sustainable Start Ups in Zurich, created a Workshop for green event management and held keynote speeches on how to green up events and meetings. It’s been a wild ride and there’s much more to come.

I couldn’t be more excited!  

So, obviously you have been locked-down like all of us in the past weeks. How have you managed, and what have you done in the time at home?

It’s been a very crazy time for me as I had to have surgery at the end of February. It was the strangest feeling, I came out of the hospital and the streets were deserted! I thought someone accidentally casted me in a zombies movie. I wasn’t very mobile in the first couple of weeks, which made the whole lockdown situation quite grueling for me. I read some books, made reusable face masks and downloaded a “Yoga at home” app, which must’ve been quite entertaining for my neighbors. That was pretty much all I was allowed to do, sadly.

What has this very strange and unique situation changed in your habits, positively or negatively, in general and with regard to your sustainable habits, perception etc?

I don’t take things for granted anymore. Meeting friends, going outside, holidays. Hugs. The hugs! Basic human interactions became some sort of a treat for a while. It goes without saying that we’ve created a pretty selfish environment for ourselves. I genuinely hope that Covid19 changes the way we see our role on this planet. Humanity is not indestructible! Quite the contrary. We’ve just been incredibly lucky for years.

Do you believe there will be a "new normal" or do you think people/companies/the world will go back to its old self, including flying, consumption etc..?

I’m cautiously optimistic. It was chilling to see how fast nature started to heal itself once humans had to stay put. We can’t brush over this, and neither can our governments. We’re living in extraordinary times and unfortunately, everything is connected, which means we have to fundamentally change our “current normal”: in our offices, our homes and within ourselves. Remote work enabled us to spend more time in our kitchens and gardens. Companies shouldn’t forget that. Travel restrictions forced us to explore our neighborhoods instead of other countries. We shouldn’t forget that.

In your latest blogpost  you discuss the impact of covid on event management. What do you think is most critical? What will seriously change in practices and mentalities? Will event management ever be the same again?!

Covid19 has had a massive impact on the event industry, but health- and safety guidelines are not in competition with sustainable event solutions – quite the contrary! Some of the recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) are straight out of the Green Event Management handbook: don’t print handouts, refuse goodie-bags, opt for digital signage, don’t fly people in from all over the world, host online meetings. Green event planners said this for years!

What’s amazing to see is how quickly everyone adapted to online meetings and conferences. The biggest contributor to an event’s carbon footprint is travel, which accounts for about 80% of the carbon emissions. Covid19 forced event professionals to explore digital options and my industry embraced it with positivity and creativity. From virtual wine tasting events to online escape rooms and networking platforms that look like video games, Covid19 might change the event industry for the better! I’m very excited to see what the future holds.

We met almost a year ago as you opened an event dedicated to green entrepreneurs: how successful was the event, what did you learn from this, and what will come next?

It was such a fantastic evening! Probably one of my highlights of 2019. I have to give credit to Simone from though, she’s my partner in crime and I couldn’t have done it without her.

When we decided to host a networking event in Zurich for sustainable Start Ups, we expected 10 people. We would’ve called 20 a massive success. In the end, almost 40 people came. We were blown away. Everyone had a story to tell and it showed me that there’s tons of companies out there that genuinely want to do good!

I can’t wait to host another one. Once it’s safe to meet and mingle again, of course.

The Green Event Planner has a new face! Tell us more about the update of the website!

Indeed! When I launched The Green Event Planner I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go with this. I jumped into ice-cold water, as we say in German. Initially, I wanted to host sustainable events but realized fairly quickly that companies don’t need a sustainable event planner, they are desperately looking for a sustainable event consultant. Someone who teaches their marketing teams how to host green events.

That’s why I created a workshop that is aimed at event planners, corporate marketing- and PR teams, associations and individuals who frequently host parties and events. I’ll teach them how to put a greater focus on sustainability. I also help venues and event partners with their sustainability concepts, in case their clients ask for greener solutions. It’s going really well so far!

So, what is next for you and The Green Event Planner?

I’m currently working on something pretty major! Green events rely on sustainable partners. Eco-friendly venues, caterers and suppliers. It’s time to put them into the spotlight. That’s all I can say for now.

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