Hosting a sustainable event doesn’t have to be difficult. Ensuring that your event’s carbon footprint is considered with every decision will make the planning easier as well as aligning your event with your CSR goals. By changing the way that an event is planned and placing sustainability at the forefront of all decisions made, new possibilities arise.
What is sustainable event management?
Sustainable event planning is the process by which organisers and organisations produce an event with environmental concerns and social responsibility at the forefront of its strategy. Sustainable event management considers the needs, values, and ethics of all stakeholders in the event. This, of course, is important because it reduces environmental, economic, and social values at its core.
Things to consider when organising an event
Looking at the carbon footprint of your event is one of the most important things to consider. Looking at the locations of your attendees and how they are travelling to the event is incredibly important. Consider hiring a coach or getting the train to avoid unnecessary duplicate car journeys. Consider hosting in the UK rather than heading abroad.
There are also other options such as virtual or hybrid events that could support or replace your event and reduce your impact. By considering the location of your guests in relation to your venue, you will not only reduce your travel impact but also make the event more accessible which encourages more guests to attend.
Opting to use a sustainable venue for your event is one of the biggest decisions but one of the easiest steps to carry out. Whilst trying to find a venue, ask staff about their sustainable alternatives or green event programs. Does the venue recycle or compost? Is the venue open to lowering the lights to save energy? Venues with a green agenda will have hosted thousands of eco-friendly events and will know a thing or two about how to support your event.
Sustainable venues will often partake in initiatives such as:
- Recycling initiatives
- Planting trees to offset carbon footprints
- No single-use plastics
- Solar energy
- Planting wildflower meadows to house bees and wildlife
- On-site catering facilities to ensure that food is fresh and local.
Working with suppliers who have strong CSR / environmental policies will make your event better with minimal effort. Speak to your caterers, activity suppliers, AV company, to see how they can help to reduce your impact. Where possible, choose the eco-friendly option. Working with suppliers may seem like a small contribution, however, will add up to a much greater impact.
Saying no to things like single-use plastic is one of the easiest switches. Get rid of the plastic stirrers, straws, and spoons, favouring a bamboo straw or good old metal spoon.
Plan your food in accordance with the number of people coming. This will not only cut costs but will also ensure that minimal food goes to waste. Encourage your delegates to pre-order their event food and only cater for those numbers. If pre-ordering is not an option, consider reaching out to a local shelter that will appreciate receiving your leftover food. Ensure that your caterers use local, sustainable raw materials to produce their dishes. This will not only taste fantastic but will help to meet your CSR goals with every bite!
Instead of sending printed invitations and gift baskets to your attendees, consider simply sending an e-vite, and distributing swag (if any) when they arrive at the event. This reduces the need for paper waste as well as reducing the number of parcels sent through the post. When considering the swag, these shouldn’t be a burden on your event’s carbon footprint either. Free promotional items such as fidget spinners and key chains often end up in the bin post-event anyway. Make the switch to reusable items such as tote bags, mugs, and tumblers, or even seed packets.
Alternatively, ditch the swag and spend the money on delivering a high-quality memorable experience for your delegates. Treats and experiences such as good coffee, professional headshots, themed event treats or massages will be much more appreciated than highlighters and pens!
Assess the predicted amount of waste for your event and consider how this can be reduced before the event takes place. For example, if you are having food at your event, consider how the food is consumed – could you replace Styrofoam cups and polystyrene trays with real plates and glasses. If using ‘proper’ tableware isn’t possible, consider using biodegradable options such as cutlery made from plants or starch.
Will you be needing physical note-taking materials, or could you encourage attendees to use a digital device, or could you share notes in an email after the event? If you must use paper copies, consider using recycled paper and condensing documents.
In relation to activities, consider the waste impact of activities, and what you can do to reduce this. Ask your entertainment and activities suppliers about the environmental implications of your energiser or team building activities will be and choose the activity with the least amount of impact. Ensure that the needs and physical abilities of your guests are also considered!
There’s power in numbers! Incentivise your delegates to do things like bringing their own recyclable coffee mugs, or you can give them their own for use during and after the event. If you can, email information to your guests on the day, which will help reduce the number of printed materials. Encourage delegates to car-share or get the train or coach to reduce traffic and carbon emissions. If you’re travelling to another location as a part of your event, consider hiring a coach to further reduce travel emissions.
If you’re looking for a way to make your next event more environmentally friendly and you’re not sure where to start, give us a call on 01827 215 200 or send us a message to see how Eventurous can help. We are working towards being a carbon neutral company and take our environmental impact very seriously.