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“Tackling waste in tourism & events”

You decided to work at reducing waste in your tourism/events organization, welcome on board! How to implement change in the long run? One key stake will be to effectively raise-awareness to make people (mainly your staff and customers) change their behavior. Explore below some key tips to put the odds on your side!


  • On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic.
  • Some people have no interest at all in waste an others have been doing certain things the same way for years. Implementing change in the long run is a real challenge!
  • The biggest the organization, the more challenging it might become.

How to lead the change?

Don’t try to implement all the solutions at the same time to not take the risk of making people feeling quickly discouraged. Instead start with one (or a few) solution(s) from the ones you identified during steps 5 and 6. Also, be sure your involved your staff from the very beginning of the process, see step 1.



1. Start with a test

For some solutions which might seem a bit more complex to implement and scale up (specially for bigger organizations), we recommend to start with a test. Check out the following videos to get inspired by how start-ups actually develop their solutions using tests and prototypes. This key step can help you reduce failure by making sure the user experience is qualitative before developing and implementing the final solution on a larger scale.

What is a user test?

What is a lean start-up?

How and why prototype?

2. Make people change their behavior

Define your goal

What exactly do you want from your clients / event participants / staff? Internal and external communication campaigns related to sustainability challenges usually aim at reaching at least one of those following three objectives:

Raising awareness: improve people’s knowledge about an issue. If what you are really seeking is public engagement for sustainable development, don’t stop at this first (key) step, go further by seeking attitude and behavior changes.

Changing attitudes: change the way people think and feel about an issue. Attitude change is a precursor to behavior change, but it does not guarantee it. It has an important role to play in preparing for the change that will occur in your organization. It can help to ensure compliance with new legislation, such as the compulsory wearing of seat belts.

Changing behavior: influence people’s actions relating to an issue. This is usually the ultimate goal. However, it is a long-term approach, sometimes taking an entire generation to come into effect.

Adapt your content

Start with an easy action / easy “yes”: lead by example! Be the change you want to see in the world (here and among your clients).

Communicate issue by issue: not everything at once.

Give data: to illustrate concretely by how much clients will decrease their carbon footprint by staying in your hotel, eating in your restaurant, going to your festival, etc… Choose impactful numbers (with comparison features for example).

Speak also about emotions: data alone is not convincing enough (right vs. left brain). “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” Nelson Mandela

Speak about the advantages for your clients: in term of health, finance etc… what’s in it for your guest? Highlight customers benefits. Make it personal and practical. Ex : The main reason why people are mostly buying organic food is because they think it’s better for “their” health (versus for the biodiversity). Read article on Hopineo blog.

Adapt your tone of voice

Be compelling and inspiring!

Don’t use jargon so sustainable development doesn’t appear to be an exclusive club for those in the know. Sustainable development messages must be simple and clear, but also credible. Test all messages with your personal circle. If your friends do not understand, it stands to reason that few other people will. Forget about the word “sustainable”, replace it by specific customers’ benefits.

Funny signage is always a good idea to make people change their habits. Also think about recreational activities. During the ChangeNOW summit, for example, participants can test and improve their waste management skills through games/workshops designed by Yoyo,

No moralization: have positive arguments (ecological solutions instead of environmental guilt), pedagogy and awareness raising. No patronizing, guilt-laden or disapproving language.

Practice non-violent communication: speak more about you (“I prefer”) than “you should”.

3. Face changes barriers

Collect your staff or customers feedback to understand what might be the barriers which make them resistant to somes changes. Are there rather psychological or technical? We listed below some of the main common barriers generally encountered:

Lack of employee involvement: employees always have the fear of change, and unless they are involved in the change process, it is highly likely that even the most loyal member of your employees will resist the change. Be sure to involve them from the very first steps of the project. See our 1st step article about defining a shared purpose.

Organization complexity: check the practical realisability of the changes you want to implement. If you didn’t skip step 6 build action plan with collective intelligence, you should be able to avoid such misconceptions. Starting with a test is also to good way to face this issue, read above!

Unknown current state: trying to introduce and implement change without conducting an assessment and understanding the current blueprint of the organization is a common habit by many entities. Make sure to not skip the step 2 conduct a waste audit.

Lack of effective communication strategy: don’t assume that once you announce the change, people will adjust and be ready to get naturally started. Employees or customers need to understand how the change will affect them and what they have to do very concretely. Be honnest and transparent about potential negative aspects and highlight positive output, find compromise: “Bamboo straws are 4 times more expensive compared to plastic straws but we’ll stop to put them automatically to each drink. We’ll put some signage explaining the impact of plastic straws and our commitment to reduce waste to customers. We’ll still offer the possibility to ask the waiter for a straw, but then it will be a bamboo one. The additional cost of bamboo straws will be compensated by the fact that we won’t distribute as many as before.”

Lack of congruence: be careful in your communication and acts. Don’t ask to do something that you’re not doing yourselve. For example, when organizing an internal event with your employees to talk about waste, work at making it exemplary in term of waste!
An example of what you should NOT do:

4. Adopt new human resources policies

Staff management

Lead by example: “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.” (Albert Einstein). You must be the first one to respect your rules and show example for your employees. Practice nonviolent communication: speak more about you (“I prefer”) rather than being accusatory “you should”. The various advices given in our article “How to communicate efficiently to clients?” can be also applied here for employees. Use the phrase “I statements”, example: I feel like ____ when you do ____. Or I don’t feel like you are listening when you have your headphones in your ears while I am talking to you.

Train your employees: if you feel that it is needed, you can organise a quick and funny good practices training. It can be a good time to do team building. Leave them with a didactic, user-friendly summary of the good practices they need to implement. Explain to them why you do what you do, give them information so it is not just another rule they need to follow so that they understand the reasons and consequences of their actions.

Hiring new staff

Recruitment policy: you can decide to hire people whoalready share your values and actions. Ask them in their interview how they personaly deal with waste, if they have had similar experiences previously or check if they can comply with your waste management scheme.

Signature of a moral charter: you can engage your employees morally by making them sign a moral charter, a list of “duties” they commit themselves to follow, to respect the mindset of your organisation. This can be included both in the rules of procedure or in you specification requirements.

Make behaviour part of the contract: you can write in the job description some attitudes and actions you expect from your employees. You can even define a bonus/malus in line with the respect of the mindset and actions of your organisation.

Communicate: every employee should be aware of and understand your vision and objectives regarding sustainable waste management and procurement policy, and how it is related to the mission of your company. This could be formalized in a manifesto handed to every new employee.

Mentorship: for newcomers, you can give them with a mentor who is already used to your policy in order to inspire them and lead by example. On one hand, mentors will feel responsible and will be even more engaged. on the other, newcomers will have someone to rely on, to remind them of the good practices, and available when they have questions. Teaching others is also a good way to make people better understand and feel responsible for the rules. In this same kind of spirit, you can define a “referent” on some issues. Ex: have a specific person who will be the “Mr Trash” or “Mrs Energy” of your organisation. So people can come to him/her when they have a doubt or an issue.

5. Measure, reward, celebrate

Follow-up on your achievements, compare them to initial situation to measure them or make a simplified estimation based on hypothesis. Read our previous article Measure or estimate your waste reduction progress.

Recognize and valorize the contribution of employees who made waste reduction possible. Communicate both internally and externally to celebrate success. As much as possible, let your employee tell their story, share their experience. Various format are possible; videos, testimony, etc. You could also organize an event with all staff members and highlight the progress made, but also be honnest about next challenges. nobody is perfect, sustainability is a journey.

You could also use gamification to motivate your employees, creating waste reduction conquest between departments. It is always a plus to reward people for their good actions and behavior. It can be done morally and orally, but also physically! It works also for customers… Get inspired buy the frenchie Yoyo initiative. Highlight customer’s benefit, see next article about how to activate your communication.

Example: get a discount or a souvenir for good environmental actions.
It strengthens the fact that people can find their own interest in having a respectful behavior.

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“Tackling waste in tourism & events”

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