Meetings Pro Tip: Bring Creativity and Sustainability to Your Event With Zero-Waste Furniture

A high-profile event is bringing upcycled chic to a lounge at its upcoming 2022 edition. VidCon’s approach might inspire you to think beyond just recycling.

You may have a lot of event swag or unused equipment in the vault that you doubt you’ll ever use again, but it feels a bit wasteful to simply get rid of it.

An alternative: Find a way to creatively reuse it at a future event. VidCon, an annual conference for digital creators who specialize in video together with their fan bases, is trying something experimental this year, and it just might inspire you to get creative about the old gear you still have lying around.

What’s the Strategy?

In an interview with BizBash, Julia Maes, VidCon US’s executive producer, said that the upcycling is a result of the organization’s wish to creatively reuse old materials from past events.

“We’ve been storing old materials for a few years now—banners, T-shirts, lanyards—that we weren’t prepared to toss because most of them are in fine shape and we didn’t know how to recycle them, but that we couldn’t reuse for their original purpose, especially since our rebrand in 2020,” Maes said.

The organization teamed up with Rewilder, a company that specializes in making upcycled goods. The firm is building upcycled furniture from the old gear, which will be featured in a lounge at the event, held each year at California’s Anaheim Convention Center—minus a two-year pandemic hiatus it is returning from next month.

“They’re like beanbags who went to art school and are cool adults now,” she said of the recycled gear.

Why Is It Effective?

Upcycling old goods keeps the materials in circulation, helping reduce waste. On top of that, it can make for potential statement pieces at your future events.

It’s also an effective way to put the sustainability conversation in front of attendees—a focus of Maes’ work.

“Rewilder also tells a story with each product about what diverting the materials from the landfill means for carbon emissions, garbage entering our water sources and so on, so VidCon attendees can directly understand what reuse can do for overall sustainability goals,” she told BizBash.

What’s the Potential?

The upcycling approach doesn’t have to be limited to swag from prior events. You might also find ways to reuse objects from your office or another setting related to your organization.

As an example, AT&T is launching a zero-waste furniture program, in which the company decommissions old furniture without simply throwing it away.

“Our disposition strategy is to 1) reuse, 2) resell, 3) donate or 4) recycle,” the company stated in a social responsibility document.

Your association might be holding on to some old equipment that’s hard to sell or recycle. Perhaps by working it into your event displays, you can bring new value to that old gear.

Employees of Rewilder, VidCon’s partner for its zero-waste furniture initiative, work on an upcycling project. (via Facebook)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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