Sustainable events are more than just a trend, they are quickly becoming the #1 focus for venues and event planners. People are more aware of the climate change crisis and the impact we have on the planet and are taking seriously the responsibility to lower our carbon footprint.
This is due to an increase in Millennials and Generation Z participants within the industry. They are a very eco-friendly group, with 73% of them more willing to pay for an event that is marketed as sustainable, as opposed to one that shows no interest in the health of the planet.
This means that people expect their companies and their event planners to act as responsibly and as eco-conscious as they would. It’s not enough to just market your event as sustainable and put some bins that say “recycling” at your venue. People can tell if you’re faking, and you can lose serious credibility.
Here are some simple, yet effective ways you can turn any event into a sustainable one, impressing your clients, participants and the planet in one fell swoop.
Choose a green destination
When you choose a city for your event take a look into what kind of sustainability plan they have, and what actions they are currently taking to undermine their carbon footprint.
London has several initiatives in place that seek to improve the quality of life of its people by helping the environment. In 2019 it became the world’s first National Park City, highlighting its incredible green infrastructure. The mayor’s office has created a £12 million Greener City Fund to plant orchards, plant wildflower meadows, and establish community food-growing areas – all within the city!
But it doesn’t stop there. London has plans to improve its air quality, implement waste and circular economy, and mitigate climate change, among other things.
Partner up wisely
You will need to partner up with vendors, suppliers, sponsors and brands that participate in the overall creation of your finished product. Ask your allies what their sustainability policies are and how they are putting them into action. Remember that it’s important to be transparent and honest with your participants, so if you promise a sustainable, eco-friendly event it should be exactly that.
Some tried-and-true eco-warrior suppliers even have sustainability certifications. The Sustainable Event Certification (SEC) in the UK offers certification to the ISO 20121 standards, so any hotel, caterer, or other vendors who have a recognition of this sort is a trustworthy partner to work with.
Minimise the distance and transportation
You can start reducing your event’s carbon footprint by minimising the distances your attendees will have to travel within the city. Choose a venue that is conveniently close to their hotel and hopefully close to most shops, banks, and restaurants. If your destination is a big city like London, make sure your venue has easy access to public transportation and promote its use, along with walking. Offer bus passes or tickets for the tube to discourage the use of cars or taxis.
This is also a great opportunity to break into your hybrid event strategy. If you have participants from all over the world who are genuinely interested in attending but are equally worried about their carbon footprint, offer them the option of attending your event online. This will not only massively reduce the fuel emissions they spend on flights but also boost your event as 100% eco-friendly.
Recycling and waste management
Choose digital instead of paper wherever you can. Opt for e-tickets instead of printed ones, online schedules, programmes, materials, brochures, etc. Make your event plastic-free, avoiding one-use plastics like straws, plates and cups and offer reusable or recyclable options instead.
Also, ask your venue how they manage their waste. Let them know you want to recycle and separate organic waste from glass, cans, and plastic and that the bins for each must be clearly marked out for participants to easily identify. Let your attendees know that there is a clear policy about plastic, waste management and recycling. It will also motivate them to stay frugal the resources they use.
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Go for locally sourced food
Believe it or not, you can also be sustainable when it comes to catering! Ask your venue about their in-house catering options and if their food is locally sourced. This not only promotes the local economy but if food is transported shorter distances, the carbon footprint is smaller.
Don’t forget about individually packaged food. Go for packaging that is recyclable or biodegradable. There are some great boxes made from compostable materials, and they even offer branding options. (sustainable branding is the opportunity every business has been waiting for!)
Control your energy and water usage
Energy and water are valuable resources and must be used with care. Some venues and hotels are certified in high efficiency and minimal waste systems within their infrastructure that guarantees their building is eco-friendly.
Regardless of fancy certifications, take steps during your event to keep your power usage under control. Use LED light-bulbs that use very little energy island give off wonderful light quality. Keep the AC or central heating to a minimum. If there’s no one in the room, you don’t need to have it on. The same applies for all AV equipment, lights and chargers.
The future of sustainability
A responsible approach towards the planet’s resources and the way we use them is becoming more urgent every day. Soon it will not be a trendy option for your event, it will be the norm. It’s already widely expected amongst corporate clients and young participants who feel that sustainability should be part of their lifestyle.