Events often generate large amounts of unnecessary waste, adding to an already concerning amount produced each year in most parts of the world. With sustainability and social responsibility on the forefront of minds these days, many event organisers are taking substantial measures to reduce their carbon footprint. But how does one define a ‘green’ event and what kind of things can organisations do to make their events more sustainable?
What is a Sustainable Event?
An eco-friendly or “green” event takes into consideration the environmental impact of the event, suppliers and the companies represented. By planning an eco-friendly event, you plan to waste as little energy, water and natural resources as possible as well as limit greenhouse gas emissions and general waste.
Just recently the UK’s largest outdoor event Glastonbury Festival declared that 2019 was their most eco-friendly year to date after banning single-use bottles for all 200,000 festival-goers, performers and staff. Research also shows millennials (dubbed the “green generation”) are willing to pay a lot more for sustainable, better quality goods and services.
By making your event eco-friendly, you can positively influence the environment by promoting green initiatives and find ways to benefit the local community. Green events can also help improve your profile with attendees and as an environmentally conscious event planner.
How to Plan an Eco-Friendly Event
Planning a sustainable eco-friendly event doesn’t have to be a logistical nightmare. Just a few key changes can make your event a lot more environmentally friendly. Here are a few steps to take towards organising a greener event:
1. Go Paperless
Often, little changes have the largest impact. By opting for paperless invites instead of printed invitations not only are you minimising your carbon footprint, but you can communicate with attendees in real-time effectively. Any last-minute changes to your event can be communicated to attendees quickly and easily through email without the need to reprint collateral. Event apps can be a great help here as they replace the need for printed programmes. With push-notifications, they also ensure your attendees always have access to the most accurate and up-to-date event information. Don’t forget this information also needs to be updated on your website, social media and blogs too.
It’s essential to encourage exhibitors and guest speakers to avoid wasting paper on promotional handouts and brochures too. By facilitating PowerPoint presentations and including all speaker and exhibitor details on your website or app, you will minimise the need for promotional handouts.
Using on-site check-in and badge printing solutions will also help your events’ green credentials. With self-service check-in kiosks, you can eliminate the need for printed registration lists – which is considered a security risk under GDPR. With on-site badge printing, you can reduce waste by limiting badge-printing to those people that show up on the day.
If part of your event marketing plan is to hand out goodie bags, only include useful items that are less likely to be discarded after the event. Further, always ensure promotional collateral is made from 100% recycled materials, and don’t date items so they can be re-used at future events.
2. Consider Transportation and Location
The location and transportation of your event is a big opportunity to cut down on your carbon footprint. By opting for an eco-friendly venue or location that has accessible public transport links, you’re reducing the use of cars while making your attendees experience easier and more enjoyable. Make sure there are hotels and restaurants near-by the venue, and if you know many attendees will be coming from out of town, source eco-friendly hotels and consider organising a shuttle service.
If you or an exhibitor requires an event structure for your event, opt for an upcycled event shipping container rather than a bespoke tent or inflatable shelter. Event shipping containers can be branded for your event and then reused for another.
3. Event Waste
When choosing your event venue, check to see if the venue recycles their waste because if there’s no system in place, you will need time to organise a separate recycling company to pick up the waste after the event.
Providing recycling bins with clear signage is a necessity. Restricting the aperture of the bins is also a good idea as it will get people thinking twice before they throw something in.
Like Glastonbury, try banning single-use plastic bottles and using recyclable or biodegradable utensils. If you want staff to wear a uniform, ask them to wear clothes of a similar colour they already own. Alternatively, purchase new uniforms and reuse after the event.
Ensure your event’s catering is “green” by opting for seasonal and local food that is less likely to leave a big carbon footprint. Food with a small carbon footprint includes chicken, turkey and pork as well as vegetables. If outsourcing your catering, work with caterers to keep food miles to a minimum.
Confirm the number of attendees with your caterer as close to the event as possible to ensure minimal food waste. Offer attendees the chance to recycle their food by providing compostable bins and at the end of the event, donate any uneaten food to a charity.
Instead of supplying bottled water, reduce plastic wastage with water stations or by supplying tap water with filters instead. Don’t pre-fill glasses but rather fill guests’ glasses on request. If supplying coffee and tea, choose a sustainable and fair-trade option.
About the Author
Dawn Ellis is Digital Marketing Manager at The Events Structure who provide a range of temporary event structures and mobile display solutions to a diverse range of clients worldwide, including Mastercard, Amazon, Virgin, WKD, British Army and TomTom.
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