Live events are back, baby! We couldn’t be more excited. But as we do move back to in-person meetings, one thing to consider is your environmental impact. Eventcase recently shared that two-day conferences produce 1,7912,320 Kgs of carbon emissions, whereas a two-day virtual event only produces about 8,424 Kgs. To put that into perspective, these savings can power over 200 homes for a year. So, what can you do as an event planner to make your events more sustainable, Earth-friendly, and low-impact? Today, we’re going to share a few ideas to get you started!
Event Sustainability in the News
Destination Canada just launched the first-ever Canadian Business Event Sustainability Plan last month. Convention centers across the globe are renovating to meet LEED certification requirements. Huge events like the FIFA World Cup and the Super Bowl are releasing sustainability reports and focusing on lightening the footprint of these mega-events. The list goes on.
The moral of the story is that if you’re not being intentional with reducing your footprint, you’re going to lose some of your audience. And if you are intentional, use that as a part of your marketing to show people they’re making a difference!
Your Checklist for Producing Sustainable Events In-Person
So, where do you begin addressing sustainability when planning events? This checklist will help you add a few action items to your team calls. Start here!
By default, hybrid events are going to have less of an environmental impact with a greater attendee reach. So, rather than you flying in 1,000 people from across the globe, maybe host 200 regionally and offer a virtual option for those who don’t want to travel overseas. This way, you’re cutting down on travel emissions, event waste, and energy usage, among other things!
Select a Venue with Eco-Friendly Practices & Certifications
Hosting your event at a venue that values sustainability and operates with eco-friendly practices in mind makes your life easier as a planner for sure. You can rest easy and have faith that they will operate in a morally sound and environmentally friendly way! This means things like using non-toxic cleaning supplies, utilizing renewable energy sources like solar power, deploying energy-efficient lighting and technology, organic sheets and bedding, eliminating single-use plastic toiletries, etc.
Reduce Waste & Recycle
A good way to reduce waste and recycling is to set a KPI for just how much you’d like to reduce this by. Without measurable goals, how will you measure your progress? You can aim to reduce your waste by 20% at your first event, see how it goes, and move forward from there. This could mean things like providing your exhibitor’s guide and session booklets virtually via an app, going from plastic or paper plates to actual china or glass, use cloth napkins rather than paper napkins, come up with a plan to donate food if that is allowable, provide lanyards with nametags that can be re-worn rather than stick-on nametags, use recycled materials in everything you produce from swag to pens, the list goes on!
Pay Attention to Your Menus
If you’re not looking at your menus critically, they likely aren’t too sustainable. They’re likely being supplied by global food distributors who use harmful production techniques. Opt for more vegan and vegetarian dishes as producing meat causes more waste and water usage. Choose locally sourced items from farms and purveyors in the area whenever possible, as that cuts down on transportation cost and helps local business. Selecting seasonal produce also decreases the need to source from other locales, so that’s a good place to start. Make sure your coffee and chocolate for dessert are fair-trade certified! These are a few good places to start.
Utilize an Event App & Digital Signage
The more digital options you provide, the less paper you will need! Using an event app not only engages attendees and impresses them, but it also makes your footprint smaller. Apps have so many capabilities these days, and honestly, it makes your life easier too. No more running to FedEx Office to re-print the agenda at 5:00 a.m. after a last-minute speaker change (ahem, we’re speaking from experience—apps are way better).
Promote Eco-Friendly Travel Options
Travel is at the core of the events industry. But it’s also very detrimental to the environment. Encourage the use of public transportation like subways and trains, provide options for rideshares and carpooling, etc.!
Now this checklist is not exhaustive. But it does address a good amount of the most important areas to address for sustainability when planning events. For a thorough strategy, it’s always a good idea to have a pro on your side!
Want Help Developing a Strategy for Sustainable Events? Let’s Get Started.
Sustainability is important for the future of events, our world, and your company’s profitability. Let’s work together to create an intentional, sustainable events strategy to meet your upcoming business goals! Schedule a time for a complimentary 20-minute strategy session now.