Sustainable events adopt eco-friendly practices which reduce the event’s carbon footprint.
We have become much more aware of our impact on the environment, and events in particular can have a significant ecological footprint. So it’s important for event owners and organisers to consider ways in which they can make their events more sustainable. In this article, we’ll explore seven clever – and practical – ways to make your event more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
- Waste management and recycling – waste management is one of the most critical aspects of sustainability. It is important to ensure that waste generated during the event is managed responsibly. One way to achieve this is by separating waste into different streams such as food waste, plastics, paper and glass. Providing appropriate bins, clear signage and helping educating attendees about where to dispose of waste is key. A study conducted by the University of Minnesota found that an event with 500 attendees can generate up to 1.89 tons of waste. By properly managing this waste, you can significantly reduce the amount that ends up in landfill. By recycling materials, you can reduce others’ need for virgin materials and save both energy and reduce the amount of material in landfill. You can encourage recycling at your event by providing recycling bins in easily accessible areas, such as near food and drink stations. This will help attendees to dispose of waste responsibly – ask a local waste carrier what they can accept, it’s only one web-search away. Also look for services provided by companies like Event Cycle who can turn your materials into social donations.
- Choice of venue – your choice of venue will have a huge impact on the emissions associated with your event. How your delegates or visitors travel to your event is almost certainly the largest factor you an control. When choosing a venue, look at where your audience is based & search for venues within that area and accessible by public transport. Then consider factors such as renewable energy provision, water usage and waste management. A venue with green credentials such as solar panels or a rainwater harvesting system, or better-still LEED-certified, can significantly reduce your event’s carbon footprint. Studies have shown that LEED-certified buildings deliver a 25%-30% reduction in energy compared to non-LEED certified buildings, for example. When choosing & speaking to your possible venues, make sure to ask them about these – and which certifications they hold.
- Sustainable travel & transport – transportation is probably the most significant source of event-related greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, it’s important to encourage sustainable modes of transport to and from your event. One way to achieve this is by promoting public transport, such as trains or buses. You could also encourage attendees to carpool to an event. Offering incentives such as discounted tickets or digital swag for carpoolers & those using public transport can be used to encourage people to do so. According to the UN, transport accounts for approximately 28% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
- Sustainable suppliers – choosing sustainable suppliers is another crucial aspect of sustainable event planning. Consider the sustainability practices of the companies that you work with, such as their use of renewable energy, waste management practices, and their commitment to reducing their ecological footprint. You could also consider suppliers who use eco-friendly materials and packaging, and who have a strong social and environmental commitment. By working with sustainable suppliers, you can ensure that your event aligns with your sustainability goals.
- Sustainable materials – choosing sustainable materials for your event is another way to reduce your event’s ecological footprint. For example, you can choose decorations made from recyclable materials, or you could opt for reusable cutlery, plates and cups rather than disposable options. You could also consider using eco-friendly materials such as bamboo, which is renewable and biodegradable. An Italian study found that using biodegradable and compostable cutlery and plates resulted in 10 fold energy savings and 3 fold CO2 emission reductions compared to using single-use plastic cutlery. As you know, venues already have reusable cutlery and crockery on-site!
- Water management – water is a precious resource, and it’s essential to manage it responsibly at events. You can do this by providing water stations where attendees can refill their water bottles rather than using single-use plastic bottles. This will also significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste generated at the event.
- Energy Conservation – energy conservation is another critical aspect of sustainable event planning. You can conserve energy by using energy-efficient lighting, such as LED lights, and by turning off equipment when it’s not in use. You could also consider using venues with renewable energy tariffs. This can significantly reduce your event’s carbon footprint and help to conserve natural resources.
Sustainability has become a key consideration when planning an event. By implementing these seven very practical suggestions, you can significantly reduce your event’s environmental footprint and make your event more sustainable. Don’t forget – a sustainable event is also an efficient event, financially. Accessible venues, sustainable suppliers, waste management and recycling, sustainable materials, sustainable transport, water management and energy conservation are all crucial elements of sustainable event planning. By making small changes and encouraging responsible behaviour from attendees, we can all work towards a more sustainable future.