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History of TSEF

Since April is earth month, we wanted to reach out to The Sustainable Events Forum (TSEF) whose main objective is to educate event professionals about the climate crisis and what the event industry can change to do their part. TSEF’s co-founders are the dynamic duo Natalie Lowe and Candice Tulsieram. We spoke to Natalie about the start of TSEF and what event planners should consider when planning their next sustainable event.

Q: How did you and Candice start the TSEF? 

A: Actually, Nalina Williams, a fellow CanSPEP member, and Robert Thompson of AV CANADA had lunch and they thought someone should do an event on sustainable events. I sort of took it as a personal challenge. I had not yet met Candice, but she had done my sustainable events course, and we had a couple of great conversations, so I called her and said, do you want to help do this one event? From there, TSEF was created. We only met in person a few times before we did our first event and we just clicked, so we did more. We’ve gotten a bit more sophisticated with our strategic planning, but it still boils down to I get a crazy idea, and Candice makes it happen.

Q: What is your main goal with TSEF? 

A: We always said that if Candice and I went “off-grid and zero waste” tomorrow, it would affect nothing. We need millions of people to take a few small steps away from waste and carbon-intense activities, then we will see real progress. Our mission is to make sustainable events so mainstream; they are just how we “do events”, which means educating and empowering planners and event professionals. We operate on 4 pillars – educate, inspire, collaborate and act. We believe by using those 4 pillars we will achieve our mission.

Q: What have you learned since starting TSEF? 

A: Okay, we have learned SO MUCH…which is why we always tell people it’s a journey – so don’t be self conscious about what you know now, do your best now and keep learning.

Well, two things – first, the climate crisis is worse than you have been led to believe, so carbon neutral by 2050 will not be enough to make a difference if we don’t have massive action now.

Second, we need to think systems, not things. Let me give you an example – let’s say you decide to swap out a plastic tote bag for a cloth-based bag – that’s a great step – you will reduce carbon emissions. Even better is if your procurement, preparation, service and waste stream management is considered as a whole – then you can buy better, utilize smarter and manage the waste stream more efficiently. Systems solutions are far more elegant, but they actually will take our entire industry to create. We have a lot of work to do!

Q: What is one tip you would give to event planners to start planning more sustainable events? 

A: Keep learning – the technology around sustainability is changing rapidly. Easier and better solutions are always being created. We are always here to help – we get calls from companies and destinations all the time, but rarely from event planners – and I think they are missing a huge opportunity to make themselves even more valuable to their clients.

Sorry, one OTHER tip…if you are going to call yourself a sustainable planner, don’t be a generalist – the shelf live for that is rapidly disappearing…become and EXPERT at some area – food, materials, etc…and really dive into it. It’s where I see the future.

Thanks Nat!

Thank you Natalie for taking the time to answer our questions and inspiring us to take extra steps in our sustainable journey. To get more information on The Sustainable Event Forum check out their website: https://tsef.ca/, and follow them on LinkedIn to be notified about their next events: https://www.linkedin.com/company/the-sustainable-events-forum/?viewAsMember=true

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