When Sarah Borg says she wants to help people to ‘party cleanly’, she doesn’t mean general tidiness (although that never goes unappreciated). Instead, she’s talking about environmental impact.
Her event decoration business, Bangin Hangins, takes a sustainable approach in every way they can; from hand-making and re-using decorations to using solar and accredited GreenPower in their office space. We talked to Sarah about how she made it happen!
Hey Sarah! Your decorations are beautiful, where do you source them from?
We hand make them in house. Hand cut, hand threaded. No offshore labour here. It’s a timely process, but worth the effect.
Have you faced any challenges in ensuring your business’ sustainability?
‘I think there is a big gap in the event industry for sustainable options, or even recognition of clients who make the effort to party cleanly. If guests were to see the piles of waste post event, they would be horrified,’ she says.
The first hurdle I faced was convincing clients that hiring was a better option than purchasing. I knew that if purchased, they would be used once and then would probably be shelved somewhere until they were eventually discarded. I couldn’t live with myself knowing I was contributing to a single-use industry. Once I became a little more established, it wasn’t questioned. But holding your ground as a young business can be tough. I questioned the viability of this model with that initial push back.
Another issue has been carbon offsetting – it’s a murky world where it’s not clear whether offsets are additional and long-term, so reducing how much carbon we make is a priority. We also wanted to directly remove/capture carbon (not offset) through ClimeWorks but it’s 100x more expensive. The good thing about it though is you can pick projects that align with other values – eg women-led projects, developing world, reforestation.
When we first moved into the business park we are currently in, we were fixed with the power provider, we didn’t have a choice to go elsewhere. This company initially didn’t have GreenPower, so we registered our interest in this option. Thankfully they have since made this an option which we have taken up.
We knew ultimately our biggest source of emissions was vehicle usage. We had a desire to purchase an electric vehicle, but it always seemed a little out of financial reach. The cheapest vans we could find were 40k plus. We thankfully found a second hand Mitsubishi minicab MiEV – the old Japanese postal vans. It’s not the bells and whistles of vans, but it does the job (cleanly) and it’s cute.
Tell us about how you reuse waste to minimise your environmental impact?
Our business model is 100% hire based. When product goes out, it comes back to us. Our pieces get used over and over, and repaired when needed. We use reusable fixings like carabiners and string. The investment in reusable kit pays off and I actually find time saving too.
With offcuts and fallen strands, we collect and either reuse ourselves or donate to local childcare centres for craft based activities.
We’ve also just got a 5KW solar system installed in the warehouse space, based on consultant advice. We paid $3000 for a system worth almost $8000 thanks to a government business grant. 80 per cent of the time, it covers our power usage during operational hours.
What are you most proud of about your sustainable efforts with Bangin Hangings?
I’m not big on cars, they are an A to B kind of thing for me, but it does feel like an achievement to finally afford an electric vehicle. The car is by far and away our biggest source of emissions. I can stand a little taller knowing that we are operating in line with our values.
Any advice for business owners who are passionate about sustainability but don’t know where to start?
Start with the things that are within your immediate control and don’t cost the earth. You could switch your Super to ethically funded options. Consider switching to GreenPower. Try to minimise car usage, or where possible use car share vehicle options to minimise your carbon footprint. I realise roof solar and electric vehicles are not necessarily affordable for all, but do check out gov grants out there for businesses.
What’s your favourite type of event or party to work on?
I gotta say, Pride events are usually a hoot. The entertainment, the colour, the cheekiness! Count me in any day.
I’m also really impressed with clients who go out of their way to create amazing experiences for their guests with sustainability in mind. The best are the ones where you don’t even notice it. Hats off to these people, you have my heart.