Sadie Waddington: Small Business Hero

Planning for a Better Future

Sadie Waddington knew that big events could have a small impact, environmentally speaking. So she started One Big Fish Events in Walnut Creek, California, to prove it.

Why start an energy-efficient event planning company?

I did my master’s degree in physical geography and coastal zone planning. While in grad school, I was working at the American Lung Association on their fund-raising campaign and events. I quickly found that there were ways to integrate the environmental aspects that I was learning about in my program into these events. You could be having an event to benefit an organization doing good work, yet the event itself would have an impact, so I was trying to bring that full circle.

Are there surprising ways that events tend to waste energy?

Travel is a big piece that clients forget about a lot of times. People pick an area that is gorgeous and resonates with them but forget how people are going to get there. We can save a lot of energy by having events near public transportation or that are in walkable and bikeable locations.

“People are surprised by how beautiful sustainability can look.”

How do you go about fixing that?

We start by choosing smarter locations—places that are easily and sustainably accessible. Next we try to work with venues that are green certified or have taken several steps to become energy efficient—they have low-flow sinks and toilets, LED lighting, things like that. You also have to be smart about when the event is. Can we have it during the day to save on lighting? If there’s a band, can they play without amplification? Small things like these add up.

Do you think guests at your events gain a new perspective?

Absolutely: people think that “green” events can only be one style, but they can look like anything you want. People are surprised by how beautiful sustainability can look. You’re not just reaching an individual; you’re reaching large groups of people, and they go on to have an impact on the environment.

Any advice for other business owners?

Small-business owners often feel there are a lot of roadblocks to being an environmentally sustainable business, but it’s definitely more of a holistic way of thinking about your business. The learning you get from being part of a green business community is very advantageous.