By Experience

Educational Climate Action Accounts on Instagram

10 Intersectional & Educational Climate Action Accounts on Instagram

In anticipation of TED’s Countdown, we are sharing some Instagram accounts for your social feed to stay up-to-date, informed, and engaged with the climate movement.

Countdown is a global initiative happening on October 30 that is focused on championing and accelerating solutions to the climate crisis with the main overreaching goal of turning ideas into action.

Last year on October 30, 2020, Happily participated in the Countdown initiative with a TEDxHappily live broadcast. Our Happily TEDxHappily Countdown 2020 event was centered around our own Happily values of:

  1. Reduce: Ideas and resources about reducing emissions and waste in our community
  2. Represent: Climate change requires equity and justice
  3. Reinvest: Reinvesting in local and forgotten spaces and communities
  4. Respect: World peace is possible in our lifetime

You can watch the full playback at

Educational Climate Action Accounts on Instagram

Here are 10 intersectional and educational climate action accounts on Instagram to follow

1. TEDCountdown


TED’s climate change initiative — turning ideas into action. Working with global partners.

2. Intersectional Environmentalist


A climate justice community and resource hub centering BIPOC and historically excluded voices.

3. Sway


We’re on a mission to replenish the planet, starting by eliminating plastics with the regenerative power of seaweed.

4. Climate Reality


Founded by Al Gore, we’re bringing the world together to stop climate change and create a healthy and prosperous future powered by clean energy.

5. UN Climate Change


Official Instagram account of the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat.

6. Earthrise

A creative studio dedicated to communicating climate & justice. Another world is possible.



Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC) conducts research on public climate change knowledge, attitudes, policy support & behavior.

8. Climate Action Art


Collection of the best climate artivism on IG. Digital gallery of art calling on politicians & voters to take #ClimateAction now!

9. Black Girl Environmentalist


An intergenerational, supportive community of Black girls, women and non-binary environmentalists.

10. Greta Thunberg


Climate- and environmental activist with Asperger’s. Born at 375 ppm.

October 13, 2021

Sustainable Catering Practices

Sustainable Catering Practices: The 6 Guiding Principles

Producing an event that is eco-friendly and sustainable means taking into consideration many different areas and making informed decisions.

As event producers and event organizers there is a lot that we can all do to combat climate change and lessen the carbon footprint of a production or event. Sustainability is a guiding light for us here at Happily, which is why our events are carbon zero, and why we are always seeking ways that events can be as eco-friendly as possible. (Hint! The answer is going virtual.)

Decisions around the food and drinks that an event is catered with can have a ripple effect on our communities, our environment and our globe. We are going to explore sustainable catering and summarize the main areas that make a menu better for the future of our planet.

We believe that understanding the basics of food sustainability will greatly assist in making more informed decisions when communicating with vendors, hiring catering companies and planning a menu. For an overview of what a sustainable event looks like, including transportation and sustainable event venues, you can also check out 10 Ways to Produce an Eco-Friendly Event.

Sustainable Catering Practices

What is sustainability?

In general, the term sustainability refers to a capability to maintain something at a certain rate or level. Most of the time, we use the term in reference to the balance between the environment, equity, and economy.

UN World Commission on Environment and Development defines sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

What is sustainable catering?

It is essentially about taking into account the origin, the quality and the non-monetary cost of the products we consume, with a focus on their impacts on the environment and society.

The goal of sustainable catering is, when possible, to:

  • Minimize environmental impacts eg. land degradation, loss of biodiversity, water pollution, climate change

  • Contribute to local economies and sustainable livelihoods of workers

  • Provide social benefits, eg. assisting people to make healthy and nutritious food choices

Sustainable Catering Practices

Let’s break down the 6 main principles of sustainable catering

These following principles are guides to making more informed choices when it comes to produce and catering.

There is no judgement for buying strawberries in the middle of December or including meat on the menu, just education around the little and big ways that a menu has the power to be more sustainable.

1. Favor produce that is locally grown and seasonal

While there is no universal definition of what constitutes ‘locally produced food’, the intention is to purchase goods that have been grown as close as possible to the place where it will be consumed.

The first benefit of going as local as possible is a reduction in carbon emissions. On average, produce that is transported over long distances will, of course, create more carbon emissions than food that is transported over a shorter distance.

By now we should all be familiar with the fact that high rates of carbon emissions are contributing to climate change. We are talking about a loss of biodiversity, extreme weather conditions, rising sea levels, loss of coastal habitat and the spread of tropical diseases. All of this has serious and deadly effects on our society, economy, environment, and daily lives.

A good indicator to ensure that food is not travelling further than it needs to, is to favor produce that are in-season in your area. A local farmer’s market can be a great source of wealth for local and in-season produce.

What are in-season foods?

By ‘in-season foods’ we mean vegetables and fruits that are grown naturally in a specific location at a particular time of the year. If you are buying a food that is not in-season for your part of the world, then it has travelled very far from another part of the country or globe to arrive at your local grocer. The transportation and storage of imported foods greatly contributes to a larger carbon footprint, as well as chemical usage to prolong shelf-life.

The second benefit of favoring local produce is that you are supporting your local farmers and economy - whether that be your community, your state or your country.

Seasonal Foods USA Happily

Image: A chart of the general growing seasons for fruit and vegetables in the US

2. Choose food produced by eco-friendly production methods

Not all foods are grown equal. There are different methods of food production that will directly impact the environment in various degrees. Conventional farming can be connected with biodiversity loss, soil erosion, as well as other negative impacts on the environment.

The sustainable choice here is to favor food that has been produced by environmentally friendly production methods, for example, organic farming.

What does organic farming mean?

If a food product is certified with an organic label, then it means that it has been grown with organic agriculture or organic farming methods. Organic foods are either completely produced or involved production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals. The goal of organic farming is to conserve soils, to enhance biodiversity, to reduce pollution and to minimize the input of agricultural chemicals.

How do you know if a product is organic?

In the US a product needs to be organically certified by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to trust that it is indeed an organic food. The USDA certification uses many detailed processes to examine how a food was planted, grown, raised, and handled, and can be applied to many various types of produce including vegetables, fruits, eggs, dairy and meat.

USDA Organic Labels Explained

Image: Here is a quick explainer on the official USDA Organic label via the USDA

3. Minimize animal products

The most resource intensive foods to produce are animal products. The reasons for this are complex and there are a number of factors that lead to animal products being so resource intensive. This includes the various necessary uses of land, farming, water, processing and transportation.

Here are some general examples of the resources that are needed to bring animal products to our grocery stores:

Large amounts of grain need to be grown to result in relatively small amounts of meat, milk and eggs Forests and land are often cleared for grain production or grazing land for animals, and less forest area results in less natural ways that excessive greenhouse gases can be absorbed Animal products are often transported over long distances in refrigerated conditions

Sustainability is all about making sure that we are not senselessly overusing the environmental resources that we have been given. The necessary huge amounts of water, farming and land used to produce beef make it the least sustainable animal product, as the graphs below will illustrate.

What does a sustainable menu look like?

A vegan menu is the most extreme end for those seeking a catering menu that is as sustainable as possible. However, a sustainable choice is also simply to minimize the amount of animal products that we consume, and selecting ingredients accordingly. A hint; simply switching beef out for chicken or fish is a huge step towards sustainability.

If animal products are to be used in a catering menu, organic certified produce should be sought out. A certified organic product will ensure that the production methods were as environmentally-friendly as possible, and will also indicate high animal welfare standards.

Food Footprints via Our World Data

Image: Food Footprints via Our World Data

4. Minimize as much waste as possible

Wherever food is made, served and consumed there is potential for large amounts of unnecessary wastage. This could come from the food preparation in the kitchen, the packaging of ingredients, the serving methods or excessive food amounts.

Here are some general ways to minimize food related waste at an event:

  • Purchase foods with minimal packaging
  • Maximize recyclable or biodegradable packaging
  • Favor tap water or drinking stations instead of bottles of water
  • Frozen foods require a lot of energy to refrigerate, favor using fresh rather than frozen ingredients
  • Using non-disposable plates, cups and others utensils for serving
  • Serve appropriate portion sizes to prevent uneaten food
  • Try to avoid providing more perishable food than estimated and have a plan for excess
  • Reuse or donate any food leftovers to avoid wasting edible produce

Video: Yalmaz Siddiqui, the Vice President of Corporate Sustainability at MGM Resorts International, spoke with us about food waste management at our TEDxHappily Countdown Summit

5. Choose sustainable seafood

The degradation of marine habitats and overexploitation of marine resources have been a result of conventional fishing practices.

Of the world’s fish stocks, about 80% is considered fully exploited, overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion. Sea turtles, marine mammals, sharks and seabirds populations have declined due to being incidentally caught by fishing vessels. Fishing gear can also have a physical impact on the denigration of the marine ecosystem.

How to know if seafood is sustainable

When it comes to purchasing sustainable seafood the things that should be taken into account are the level of overfishing of that type of seafood or species, and environmental impacts of the methods that the brand or fishery caught the seafood.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an international nonprofit organization whose standards assess the sustainability of fisheries that catch marine or freshwater organisms in the wild.

A MSC blue fish label on a seafood product means that the amount of seafood that was caught does not threaten the long-term health of the population, and any negative effects to the surrounding wildlife and ecosystem were minimized. Also that the seafood was sourced from the ocean, lakes, or rivers from wild and plentiful populations.

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Logos

Image: The correct logos from Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to indicate seasfood that meet their standards

6. Choose fair trade products

If a product has a Fairtrade certification, it indicates that its production or the ingredients used have been measured against a mix of social, economic and environmental criteria.

The main goal is to support the ethical sustainable development of small producer organizations and prevent foreign exploitation of agricultural workers in lower-income countries. The global farming industry is the largest employer in the world and Fairtrade ensures a fair deal for the farmers and workers who provide the food, the ingredients and the materials that go into products we buy. This in turn prevents poverty, protects workers' rights, combats child labor / forced labor, promotes gender equality and fights climate change.

Common foods to look out for a Fairtrade certification is:

  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Ice cream
  • Wine

September 28, 2021

Happily Earth Sustainability

10 Ways to Produce an Eco-Friendly Event

The world needs us all to do what we can in the name of climate action.

With the recent release of the IPCC report, a summary of all the climate research done in the last 10 years, we know that immediate action towards reducing carbon emissions needs to be a part of everyone’s work and life.

When it comes to producing an event and sustainable event management, there are so many things that can be done to lessen the carbon footprint and reduce the impact on the environment. Productions come in all shapes, sizes and budgets, so making whatever changes to combat the climate crisis that are possible for you is something to be commended and to be proud of.

Happily Eco-Friendly Events

Here are some considerations, tips and advice for anyone looking to make their event more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

1. Think virtual-first and avoid air travel

Air travel is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, and it is the biggest contributor to an event’s carbon emissions. Out of all the types of transportation, and all the components of an event, if guests, talent, and shipping are flying in to attend, the carbon footprint will increase by about 95%.

If a lot of the audience is interstate and/or international, there are a few simplified ways to decrease or eliminate air travel.

The first option is to go completely virtual. The second is to have a virtual component and go hybrid, allowing the audience to be a mix of onsite and online. The third is to have smaller and more localized events, instead of one major event.

Virtual events have a very small carbon footprint. At Happily we make them carbon neutral by measuring the carbon emissions of a Happily event and offsetting any emissions from computers or tech by planting the corresponding number of trees in our Happily Forest.

For more, check out these Happily Virtual Case Study.

How does Meeting Format Impact Total Event Emissions? Graph Image: Graph adapted from this original article by Shawna McKinley.

2. No plastic water bottles, switch to water stations

Having drinking water readily available for attendees is important, especially for long, onsite summits.

Traditionally the most convenient way is to hand out plastic water bottles. Even though plastic water bottles are recyclable, the majority still end up in landfill. It will take about 1,000 years for them to break down, and not to mention the devastation it can have on marine life if found in the ocean.

Rethinking how attendees access water during the event can be a big step towards sustainability. We suggest having multiple water stations (no one likes to wait in a long line) with biodegradable cups, or use it as an opportunity to have some cool, branded bottles as swag that attendees can take home and reuse as well.

3. Clearly labeled recycling bins

Wherever the event may be, make the recycling bins a point of pride.

Make them clearly labeled for people to understand what they can put into it, with a rubbish bin right next to it for everything else. Have them easily accessible and brightly colored so they are not difficult to spot.

4. Eliminate paper, go digital

Decreasing the amount of paper that is handed out to attendees or used by staff is a good step in reducing the carbon footprint of the event. Plus, converting to tech can create a better experience for attendees and a more streamlined process for staff.

Building a custom event app or microsite can create a place where attendees can access all the event resources and information that they could need; eg. schedules, registering, downloadable PDFs, venue map, COVID-19 safety protocols, menus - whatever is appropriate.

The best thing about going digital is that it can serve every and all functions that you need it to. Whatever would normally be printed as a handout, or information pack, can be digitized and conveniently at the attendees' fingertips. Optimizing the use of QR codes will also contribute to the user experience.

For more, check out this Happily Case Study.

5. Promote public transportation

Travel in general is the biggest contributor to an event’s carbon footprint, and the less cars and the more carpooling, the better.

By clearly communicating any public routes that will take attendees to and from the venue, you will get them to consider public transport as a good and reliable transport option.

Clip Bike Impact

Image: Comparing NYC commuters Co2 emissions every year, compared to CLIP, a bike pedal assist via clip/

6. Have a shuttle service

If public transport isn’t available or the venue is a little out of the way, then consider offering a shuttle service.

If you can, go green with the vehicle. Electric cars and vehicles have zero harmful CO2 tailpipe emissions compared to regular gasoline-powered vehicles, which produce environmentally harmful CO2 emissions

The same goes for hybrid, as they are still better than gasoline-powered vehicles, and technology advancements have also made diesel a clean, green option for high-powered engines.

Think of it as a way to not only to get less cars on the road, but also to create a stress-free and more accessible experience for attendees.

7. Go veggie with a sustainable food and beverage vendor

If the event is catered, there are so many ways to ensure sustainability. Many catering companies are environmentally conscious and will do most of the sustainable work for you, if you find the right vendor.

At Happily we have a list of Sustainable Vendors throughout the country that include catering, and also other areas such as printing and fabrication. Just let us know and we’d happily connect you with some.

Some attributes of a sustainable catering vendor include:

  • +50% of of the menu should be plant-based, as eating less meat can contribute to less emissions (One pound of meat uses up 2,400 gallons of water)
  • Donate any leftover food to local communities and charities
  • Use Fairtrade products (typically tea, coffee and chocolate)
  • Use locally sourced ingredients and seasonal produce for the region, to avoid imported products
  • Aim for zero food wastage. Do not make 10% more on food for guests. If we run out, we run out. That’s ok.
  • Use compostable packaging and utensils for single serve take away boxes
  • Fish sourced from sustainable supplies
  • Composting food scraps
  • Opt for real glassware, plates, etc. Happily has a ban on plastic bottles

 Chart: The Carbon Footprint of the Food Supply Chain via Visual Capitalist

Image: The Carbon Footprint of the Food Supply Chain via Visual Capitalist

8. Find alternatives to non-biodegradable materials

Where ever there is an opportunity to ditch single use plastics, use plant based recyclables and find an alternative to non-biodegradable materials, then take it.

Ask suppliers and vendors about the materials they use and how sustainable their products are. Usually suppliers and vendors will proudly display their eco-friendliness so it shouldn’t be difficult to find the right one for you.

Here are some things to think about when it comes to sustainable materials used to create them:

  • ‘Swag bags’, including all packaging and the products themselves
  • The paper and ink used to print any marketing collateral, hand outs, banners, signs ect.
  • Any catering needs such as coffee cups, cutlery, napkins, plates ect.
  • Name tags or lanyards
  • Fabrication, such as booths or set designs

9. Find an event venue that is sustainability conscious

Venues come in all shapes and sizes and will depend on the needs of the event, like, if it is a massive multi-day summit, or a smaller workshop scenario.

Here are some things to take into consideration or ask of a venue:

  • If they have a Green Policy
  • Has a LEED certification
  • The percentage of LED lights the building has (Hint! The more the better)
  • Architectural design incorporates sustainable features, like the use of natural light
  • Escalators are energy-efficient, running based on occupancy or event needs
  • Near and accessible by public transport
  • If catering is only done in-house, refer to ‘Hire a sustainable food vendor; above
  • Water recycling and catchment system for minimal water wastage
  • Air-conditioning controlled in each room, to minimize the excessive use
  • Prefer venues powered by clean energy sources like solar and wind
  • Use shore power, not generators
  • Use large signs instead of paper

10. Tell people about the event’s eco-friendliness

Proudly explain and promote the elements that are sustainable and eco-friendly, and how it is contributing to the fight against climate change.

It will elevate the esteem of your event, and also advocate the importance of climate action in general, and encourage others to follow your lead.

August 24, 2021

Sarah Shewey on Back of House LIVE from Hopin

Happily Hops into 'Back of House LIVE' with Hopin

Sarah Shewey, our Founder and CEO, is the inaugural fireside guest on Hopin’s new Back of House LIVE series.

They chat about Sarah’s innovative cyber wedding, the best bits of working across timezones, and Happily’s commitment to carbon zero events. Oh and why virtual events will still be vital even when in-person events are possible again!

Happily heads back of house with Hopin

Hopin is a virtual venue that has multiple interactive areas focused on connection and engagement. Their free show and podcast ‘Back of House LIVE’, co-hosted by Anthony Kennada and Lauren Sommers, is an events industry talk show that includes interviews with thought leaders from the events world. Happily was honored to have our Founder and CEO as the first guest!

Listen to Sarah Shewey in this snippet from Hopin’s ‘Back of House LIVE’ and read on for some quick takeaways.

The cyber wedding that broke the internet

When Sarah and Colin’s wedding was abruptly cancelled due to COVID 19 in early 2020, the pivot to a virtual wedding was quick and mighty. Sarah describes how she fully embraced the challenge to create a truly unique experience and wondrous cyber wedding celebration unlike anything you would have thought possible. Plus, she explains how their story came to headline the Daily Mail in the UK, and why the experience helped her discover the power and potential of virtual events.

The creative process and the wonderful experience that I had with the cyber wedding helped me to commit to virtual and continue to rethink experiences in an online format.

Sarah Shewey, Founder and CEO, Happily

Sarah and Colin Cyber Wedding

The benefits of Happily’s international network of independent event specialists

  • Having a team across the world and in multiple time zones means there is always someone working and a project can progress quickly
  • Happily prides itself on our ‘short runway’ to producing events and we are able to take advantage of varying time zones when a client comes to us at the 11th hour
  • The diversity of people and cultures is what Happily is all about
  • Our pool of talent is not restricted to any one country or culture
  • There are more opportunities for event specialists that speak multiple languages, if our clients need

It’s great to be able to schedule people on different time zones, so we get assets and project direction on the west coast, it moves over to the east coast, moves over to Asia, moves over to Europe, and then you have a final pre-record edit that is ready the next morning.

Sarah Shewey, Founder and CEO, Happily

Happily is committed to sustainable and carbon zero events

  • 90% of an event's carbon emissions come from flights and removing that need for travel (and going virtual) is the number one climate change solution when it comes to producing an event
  • Happily offsets any virtual event carbon emissions (from computers, etc) by planting the corresponding amount of trees in our Happily Forest
  • We produced a robust and informative TEDxHappily Countdown event that you should check out for much more on this topic and our mission

Fly less plant more

The benefits of virtual events even when in-person events are possible again

  • Virtual events are here to stay!
  • They are an important tool for event producers to sustain interaction and connection with an audience or community
  • The minimal cost compared to in-person allows a higher frequency of interaction with an audience
  • Communities can stay connected between large, tentpole in-person events with virtual events throughout the year
  • The minimal cost compared to in-person allows opportunities for smaller, more niche events within a community

For anyone who did events before [the pandemic] you remember it was always ‘how do we keep our community together throughout the year’ and it was like ‘maybe a Facebook group?’ We all laugh now because of course we are just going to be doing lots of virtual events…

Sarah Shewey, Founder and CEO, Happily

More information coming right up

Here are links to resources and random stuff mentioned in this interview:

May 17, 2021

Happily events Som Ray

Bikes that Combat Climate Change with Som Ray

How can technology make a daily urban commute super easy, way more economical, and, oh so much better for the environment?

Som Ray drops in to chat with Sarah Shewey, Happily CEO and Founder, about the future of e-bikes, how adopting biking for urban mobility can change the world and what the startup process is really like.

Plus, he introduces us to his startup, CLIP, a revolutionary device that will be a must-have for the urban commuter and anyone wondering how they can help the environment in their daily life.

CLIP Co-founders Somnath Ray and Clément de Alcala Image: CLIP Co-founders Somnath Ray and Clément de Alcala

Som Ray is re-designing the e-bike experience

Having grown up in India, Som understands just how bad air pollution and urban congestion can get. When he found himself living in New York City he decided to start using biking as his primary mode of transport. Biking is awesome for a daily commute. It is way better for the environment than cars and they do wonders for easing traffic congestion. However, biking every day is not always easy. It can get real physically taxing and motivations can wax and wan, so that is where the pedal assist of an electric bike makes all the difference.

As a concept, the pedal assist of e-bikes makes the biking experience easier, quicker and ensures you don’t arrive at your destination all puffed and sweaty. However, e-bikes are not accessible to most people; they are expensive, they are heavy and their value means they often get stolen. Also, as Som points out, most of us already have a bike; personalized, wonderful bikes with diverse designs that reflect us. This is where CLIP comes in.

CLIP is a clean mobility startup that is creating a portable e-motor device to easily attach to any bike, instantly turning it into an e-bike. Founded in 2018 by Som Ray and Clément de Alcala, they want to democratize access to the benefits of an e-bike, and build an option much more low-cost, user-friendly and accessible. Plus, empower urban commuters and city dwellers to take on biking and significantly slash our impact on climate change.

Listen to Som on Happily Live with Sarah Shewey, CEO and Founder of Happily, and read on for more.

It’s Earth Month so here are some stats for you!

By switching to biking, NYC commuters would:

  • save approx. 1.5M gallons of gasoline every year
  • eliminate approx. 12,900 metric tonnes of Co2 emissions every year

The Co2 emissions of transport in NYC are:

  • Gasoline Car = 251.0g Co2 per passenger km
  • Bus = 28.0g Co2 per passenger km
  • Tesla model 3 = 46.7g Co2 per passenger km
  • Subway / Metro = 36.4g Co2 per passenger km
  • CLIP & bike = 1.52g Co2 per passenger km

CLIP Promotional Shot Image: CLIP prototype on urban bike

Hungry for more?

Here are links to resources and things mentioned in this Happily Live:

April 28, 2021

Woman smiling at laptop in an organic style home

3 Ways to Create an Events Strategy that Saves the Planet

Like many things in 2020, virtual events went from a novel and foreign experience, to a necessary common occurrence.

Our love and advocacy at Happily for events in the digital space began long before the COVID-19 pandemic.

We care deeply about the future of our planet, and that is why we use technology to create unique and fun events that are carbon zero. Our core values as a company, include representing diverse voices, reinvesting in local and forgotten communities, and reducing waste. For the moment let’s focus on the latter, although you can find more on the others here.

How does Meeting Format Impact Total Event Emissions? Graph Image: Graph adapted from this original article by Shawna McKinley.

We are environmentalists

When we say we’re committed to combating climate change, we mean it. After each Happily event, we calculate the carbon emitted from the desktops of talent, tech, team, and guests. Then we take a percentage from our profits to plant trees in the Happily Forest, which is located in Tanzania and stewarded by our reforestation partner, Forest Nation.

3 ways you can build an events strategy that reduces carbon emissions

1. Have virtual events lead your program

By fully embracing a virtual-first program, you can reduce emissions by 90% or more. Virtual events are a format that everyone is increasingly more comfortable with, and businesses now understand the lasting benefits of them, even beyond the pandemic. They can be easily scaled, they can fit any budget, a wider audience can be connected with, there is greater opportunity for accessibility, and they often mean less time commitment for attendees and speakers. All this allows a business to justify virtual events being held more often, enabling a thriving calendar of virtual summits, virtual galas and virtual gatherings.

On average, virtual events reduce 97% of carbon emissions compared to an in-person event. This is largely due to a lack of travel of people and goods to and from a city and/or venue. All that movement would usually account for 90% of an event's carbon emissions.

2. Form local clusters for in-person events

Local clustering of events can reduce emissions by 75% or more. An example of this would be, instead of a single major in-person event in which participants would fly to from all over the country, have several smaller events in relevant cities, collectively reducing the amount of travel required for attendees.

Other than a forest fire, air travel emits the most carbon emissions per hour than anything else. Incredibly, 1% of global frequent fliers are responsible for more than half of those emissions. Of course, we do not wish to vilify air travel, nor should anyone be shamed into flying less. However, decreasing a need for air travel is a very real way to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of your event, as over 90% of an event's carbon emissions come from flights.

3. Harness the power of an online community to reduce the frequency of in-person events

The benefits of community for a business is something that is understood and utilized more each year. Actively building, nurturing and guiding a community in line with your business goals means that you can consolidate in person tentpole events down to one time a year.

The power of community for businesses is a wonderfully immersive topic. So rather than go into all of it here, we are going to guide you to some recent Happily Live interviews with experts in this field. For more on the benefits of community for your business, you must check out this chat with David Spinks. And this conversation with Gina Bianchini is essential for learning how to build a community online for your business.

Woman smiling at laptop in an organic style home

Reduce emissions, virtually

Happily is powered by the largest, most diverse network of tech-savvy, environmentally conscious event specialists. We bring tech, talent, and team together for custom, carbon-zero virtual events. Contact us for a chat and together we can produce an eco-friendly virtual event!

April 20, 2021

How to Build a Global Program for Sustainable Events

How to Build a Global Program for Sustainable Events

In last week’s installment of the Happily’s Learning Series, our CEO, Sarah Shewey, sits down with Ryanne Riley Waters of the US Green Building Council.

USGBC are the guardians of the LEED certification, which is respected worldwide as the best in class among sustainable building and structure oversight. To date, they are responsible for having certified over 100,000 projects across 176 countries. LEED is a system and set of guidelines that help people understand how to build and operate buildings and communities in a more sustainable way.

Sustainability is ensuring the needs of today are being met, while also making sure you’re not compromising the needs of tomorrow. It’s trying to increase the good and decrease the negative consequences of your actions and inactions.”

In this conversation, Sarah and Ryanne discussed how the USGBC’s international conference and expo, Greenbuild, is measured for sustainability and adapted to suit countries around the world. Greenbuild uses its events as a way to reach the market, provide education, and connect people with one another. As Ryanne puts it: “Events bring people together to help solve global problems.” Climate change and economic and social sustainability are the global challenges that Greenbuild was developed to help address.

They now operate events in America, China, India, Europe, and Mexico, and have had to learn to adapt their conference to the needs of each market. They do this by enlisting teams of people in those regions who are intimately familiar with the cultural differences, definitions, expectations, and resources in the area so they can tailor the events accordingly.

As an event producer, you might not always have the benefit of staff on the ground in different regions who know everything there is to know about sustainability. But what you can do is put together a team of really trusted friends and colleagues to help you localize your event.

Ryanne credits a lot of Greenbuild’s success to having a core set of concepts on which their events are built - a kind of framework that can then be adapted as necessary for each market in which they plan and host events. And this method can be applied to any industry. Ryanne suggests:

"Relate it back to your core mission. If you're working for a healthcare organization, or an entertainment industry event, or a non-profit that fights hunger and homelessness - there's always some sort of social or environmental (or both) initiative that you can start thinking about. Just start there and then build on it.”

Here are Ryanne’s recommended basic concepts about sustainability that you can apply to the various aspects of your events.

Consider the lifecycle of a material or product before purchasing:

- Where did it come from/how was it made?

  • What am I using it for?
  • Is there an alternative?
  • What will happen to it once I am done with it?

To help you understand how to source event materials safely, here is Ryanne’s list of preferred material content from best to worst:

  1. Domestically Sourced Recycled Content (ie. 100% post-consumer recycled paper, recycled plastic, etc.)
  2. Domestically Sourced Organic Material
  3. Domestically Sourced Virgin Material
  4. Internationally Sourced Recycled Material
  5. Internationally Sourced Organic Material (ie. 100% organic cotton from India for US show)

There are a lot of things that go into the recycling stream that aren't recyclable.”


It may surprise you to hear that recycling isn’t necessarily the best solution to our waste woes. Ryanne advises to focus on the forgotten R: Reduce.

  • Reduce first. Think, “do I need this, can we make it digital, can we redesign this process and eliminate the need for this material?”
  • Then Reuse. Think, “do we have something in inventory we can reuse, can we design something that is evergreen (i.e.: lanyards with generic show logo, no dates)?”
  • if you have to produce something new, make sure it is made in an environmentally and socially preferred way and can be recycled, reused, or donated.
  • For more information on waste, visit the TRUE (Zero Waste) website

When it comes to knowing your impact, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. It can seem daunting to find ways that measure the impact of an event on a community, but for example: hiring local labor, businesses, or ordering supplies locally, puts dollars directly back into that area’s economy, and you can measure that. Pounds of leftover material that are donated to the community can be tracked. Get this information in writing, even in a contract if you can.

"You can reduce the amount of your printed program guide by a certain number of pages, and that's great, and you can say that. But what's the impact of that? What's the total number of pages you save, or the total number of trees you save, or the pounds of wood that you saved?

Whatever you measure, don’t make up your own standards or definitions. Ryanne recommends that you follow credible sources’ guidelines like EPA, United Nations, USGBC, Green Seal, etc.

Remember, communication and stakeholder engagement in your sustainability mission is key. Be clear with everyone along the way about what your goals and needs are. Be sure to communicate it up your event supply chain, and all the way down to your end-users, attendees, sponsors, exhibitors, etc. for transparency and accountability.

sustainability report

For a quick summary of the inspiring scope of Greenbuild’s events, and a peek into their sustainability report, check out these Post-Show Reports from some of their events in various parts of the world last year.

  1. Mexico 2019
  2. Europe 2019
  3. GSCExIMPACT 2019
  4. Rocky Mountain Green

Whew! We learned so much in this fascinating conversation - this summary is just the tip of the iceberg!

Check out the video for more details from Ryanne and Sarah, and be sure to visit the USGBC and Greenbuild websites for more information.

Thanks again, Ryanne!

April 8, 2020

Plenty Pop Up Marla Aufmuth Renegade Craft Fair

Plenty Pop Ups

Plenty is a phenomenal company with the vision to make produce universally accessible, and they’re doing this through vertical indoor farms.

Happily has been helping them pop up every week in San Francisco and Seattle, giving the neighbors of their farms the first tastes of Plenty’s greens. (We’re obsessed with their arugula!)

We had a fantastic response, providing more than 10,000 samples (50%+ of attendees) and capturing valuable feedback for the marketing team.

Photos from the gallery here, taken by our friend Marla Aufmuth, are from our pop up at the Renegade Craft Fair.

Plenty Pop Up Marla Aufmuth Renegade Craft Fair

Plenty Pop Up Marla Aufmuth Renegade Craft Fair

Plenty Pop Up Marla Aufmuth Renegade Craft Fair

Plenty Pop Up Marla Aufmuth Renegade Craft Fair

Plenty Pop Up Marla Aufmuth Renegade Craft Fair

November 15, 2018