Sustainable events were one of the biggest event trends of 2018…and it’s not going anywhere in 2019, or 2020 for that matter.
The typical conference attendee produces almost 2 kilograms of waste every day. So you can imagine how much room for improvement there is for sustainable event planning companies.
Want to help keep the environment clean and save some money at the same time? Then it’s time to learn how to make an event sustainable.
Before we get into our sustainable event ideas list, have a look at five examples of sustainable events for inspiration:
- Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games is a sporting event with a “zero waste to landfill” target.
- CIBJO Congress is a completely carbon neutral jewellery event.
- ITB Asia used various energy-saving initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint by 5%.
- Oracle OpenWorld donated 9,390 meals and any unused perishables to charity.
- The Croissant Neuf Summer Party powered everything at the event with solar and wind energy.
As you can see, there are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint and create a sustainable event. Let’s go over 15 great ways you can do just that.
1. Go paperless
Electronics have become so affordable that there is little reason to print anything on paper. Not only can you help preserve the rainforest by going paperless—you can also save money.
Go paperless by using…
- Digital invitations
- Event apps
- QR codes
- Online agendas
Tip: Read more about how you can go paperless to create a more sustainable event.
2. Don’t print, project
Online forms and event apps are not the only ways you can save on paper. Many event spaces will have blank surfaces you can use to project messages, logos, and any other branding on to.
Tip: Find a supplier of AV equipment for events and see if they have a good deal on projectors.
3. Reduce food waste
It’s a bad look if you end up without enough food to feed your guests. But it’s an equally bad look to waste food. Partner up with a local charity and donate any leftover food to the needy.
4. Source food locally
Food imported from distant lands spells carbon emissions. If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, you should try to source as much of the food from local farmers as possible.
Tip: Check out this article if you’re in doubt as to how and where to source local food.
5. Use biodegradable tableware
It’s always better to use reusable tableware than plastic. But if you’re not able to use porcelain plates and metal cutlery for your event, try to use biodegradable tableware instead.
6. Improve venue access
How far do your guests have to travel to reach the venue? What transportation is available? Reduce the carbon footprint of your guests’ transportation by choosing an easily accessible venue.
7. Plan virtual meetings
Virtual meetings are on the rise for many reasons. One is that it’s convenient to attend a meeting via Skype. Another reason is that no transport is required, which is more sustainable.
Tip: Check out this blog post on the many ways you can organise virtual meetings.
8. Stick to public transport
If virtual meetings aren’t possible, you should aim for a venue with good links to public transportation. You might even be able to negotiate a discount with the local train companies.
Tip: Read about how you can make your event more sustainable with green transportation.
9. Encourage car sharing
Let’s face it: There are some great venues in the middle of nowhere. If you’ve settled on one such venue and there’s no public transportation, encourage your guests to use car sharing.
Tip: You can direct your guests to sites like Liftshare where they can find cars to share.
10. Set up composting portaloos
Everyone knows that portaloos are toxic. Besides the obvious reason, they’re usually also flushed with chemicals. Composting portaloos with sawdust are an amazing green alternative.
11. Use LED lighting
Few types of lighting are as green as LED lights. Make an assessment of where and why you need lighting and see whether it’s possible to use an LED alternative.
12. Embrace solar powered electronics
You probably won’t be able to build a wind turbine in time for your event. You can, however, rent portable solar panels to help you power technical equipment like lights, sound, and fans.
Set up recycling bins around your event to encourage people not to litter unnecessarily. As an alternative, you can hire an event waste management firm that specialises in recycling.
14. Seek out sustainable venues
There are a number of venues that have made it a business priority to be sustainable. By partnering up with such venues, you can be certain that much of the work is already done.
15. Go outside
Finally, there is always the option to host the event outside. (Weather permitting, of course.) You can save a lot on things like lighting and air conditioning by picking a suitable outdoors venue or park.
Tip: Use this guide to help you successfully host an event outdoors if you haven’t tried it before.
Ready to go green?
As you can see, there are many ways you can go green and create a sustainable event. Not only is it good for the environment, but it can be good for business, too.
Particularly younger generations care more about the environment and will be attracted to businesses who hold these same values.
If there are any sustainable event ideas that we’ve missed, please feel free to share your ideas with us in the comments below.
Good luck with going green!