INSPIRE 2022: An Eye-Opening Festival Within Our Journey to more Sustainability

By Isabelle de Wolf, Sustainable Business Officer

Bringing a different view of the world and discussing how we change it for the better: At Helloprint, we love challenging our team to take a different look at things. That’s why we organized INSPIRE Festival, our very own gathering built on the fundamental belief of connection between humans and our earth. Organizing and taking part in this event allowed us to look inwards and reconsider our purpose in this world through a mix of team bonding, sustainability awareness, and inspiration.

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Last month, we were privileged to take our Helloprint team to a three-day gathering where we brought human connection to the next level – all while celebrating life, creating awareness, and having fun, of course. Surrounded by the stunning mountains of Montanejos, Spain, we grounded ourselves with nature and one another like we hadn’t done before. After weeks of preparation, people from five companies and 40+ nationalities came together to enjoy a gathering where sustainability, inspiration, and human connection were the main focus and purpose.

A Sustainable & Ethical Event

We chose the festival’s name with a specific purpose in mind, as we wanted to bring together some of the topics that matter the most to us: sustainability, respect and care for our environment, and inspiration at a personal level. To succeed, we created a playbook with the ambition to create the most sustainable event we ever did. We started with unique biodegradable invitation cards from which flowers can be grown afterward. Funny enough, some of our employees started growing theirs right away, and we now have pots with popping seeds all around the office.

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On the event day, we traveled to Montanejos by bus and carbon-compensated planes. Our team was equipped with backpacks made from cork, recycled plastics, and reusable drinking bottles to keep our employees from generating waste. The bus dropped us off nearby the area and we hiked to our final destination. On our way up to the hills, everyone was encouraged to give back to the local community by picking up the trash we found and then disposing of it in the proper recycling bins.

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Upon arrival, we provided each employee with a goodie bag containing a bamboo toothbrush, eco toothpaste – which, surprisingly (or not!) wasn’t everyone’s favorite –, and a personalized reusable cup to be used throughout the festival. We managed to power the event mainly with renewable energy sourced from local solar panels (literally next to the DJ booth!), and all water we used was recycled afterward. In addition, we placed recycling bins all over the festival area to properly dispose of the waste we generated on-site. However, one of our key learnings was that not all our Helloprinters are recycling pros (yet!), so we will make sure to organise some recycling workshops soon.

Show, activities… and food!

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During our three-day event, we were lucky enough to host two remarkable speakers: Daniel Truran from B Lab Spain, and renowned ethnographic photographer Jimmy Nelson. Their mind-blowing speeches taught us about many different tribes and indigenous communities worldwide, the beauty and importance of living in balance with nature, and the sense of belonging and safety that we all seek within one another. These sessions were emotional and truly eye-opening – and reminded us of the importance of caring for our planet.

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On top of inspiring speeches by well-known speakers, we also made the most out of the gorgeous weather in Spain and we enjoyed many outdoor team activities in the beautiful nature of Montanejos. From kayaking, rafting and swimming, to zip lining and joining a company-wide tai chi class, we enjoyed a great time together and we strengthened our relationships with one another like never before. But most and foremost, it also brought us to the realization that this beautiful nature will only remain if we treat it with the utmost respect.

While sustainability and inspiration were some of the highlights, we were also lucky enough to try delicious Spanish food made with only locally-grown ingredients, such as tortilla de patatas and a massive paella that, of course, we enjoyed alongside some tinto de verano. To avoid unnecessary waste, we used bamboo cutlery, recycled plates, and personalized cups, and we tried to minimize food waste.

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Sustainability is about ‘giving back’

INSPIRE 2022 was organized with the environmental aspect and the local community in mind. However, sustainability is not just about buying eco-friendly products to replace non-sustainable ones. It is about taking responsibility and ownership of our actions as individuals and as a community, and about learning and implementing best practices to reduce our environmental footprint in our day-to-day lives. We believe it is also about re-establishing a connection between us and the planet we live in – a connection that, unfortunately, got lost along the way.

Why flying to Spain?

You can of course argue: Is it necessary to do this event or wouldn’t it be better for the environment to not do anything at all? We deliberately made the concious choice to organize INSPIRE to drive change amongst the people at Helloprint, so that they will make different choices in future that help our environment thrive. 

We decided it was best to gather both our Valencia and Rotterdam teams together, as we believed that human connection and inspiration couldn’t be achieved to this level through an online event. Since our Rotterdam team is much smaller, we decided it was best to fly them to Spain instead of the other way around to avoid unnecessary CO2 emissions.

Fully calculate and compensate the impact of the event

We think it’s important to take accountability for our actions and that’s why we decided to work alongside ClimateTrade to get our carbon calculations done for the entire event, which resulted in 100 tons of CO2 that we will be donated to the reforestation project in Valle de Iruelas, Spain.

INSPIRE 2022 has been a reminder of our role and responsibility toward the environment and the planet we live in. It is crucial that we all change how we produce and consume and we encourage those around us to join us.  Keeping in mind that natural resources are limited, we must remember that we simply cannot afford to take more than what it’s available to us. 

Our key learnings and next steps at Helloprint

Let’s be transparent and avoid any greenwashing; our sustainability journey at Helloprint is a learning process and we’re not yet where we want to be. It allows us to adapt and to learn as we go, and to take the necessary steps toward becoming a more sustainable company overall. 

When we first started Helloprint, we were driven by growth and growth only, and our focus was on changing how our industry works for the better. Fast forward to today, we believe it is our time and responsibility to take action and follow the necessary steps towards not only becoming a sustainable company, but also to lead the necessary change in our industry. 

At Helloprint, we aim to keep providing the best products and to keep serving the needs of our customers to the best of our ability, but with respect towards our environment and the communities around us. Until this date, we have made the effort to include environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into our company’s objectives, which allows us to keep a shareholder and a multi-stakeholder perspective when making crucial business decisions.

INSPIRE 2022 has definitely given us a lot to think about. From how to participate in the sustainable revolution and drive positive change to understand our role as a marketplace for customized print products. We aim to flip the traditional print industry upside down and raise the sustainability bar within our industry. And, we believe that working in collaboration with our excellent partner network will help us succeed. 

Just like we want to implement conscious changes within our employees and our products and services, we want our customers to join us in this journey, too. Our goal is to enable them to make greener choices and encourage them to join our initiatives to reduce our company’s footprint. For this reason, we can proudly say that we are working towards becoming a B Corp, and our team of helloprinters is more dedicated than ever to push for change and make this happen one print at a time.

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