How To Keep Your Events Sustainable

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Both enterprise organizations and consumers have become acutely aware of the impact modern culture has on the environment in recent years. We’re beginning to warily eye the pollution created by oil, we worry and fret over greenhouse gases, and we’re quick to jump in and support any organization that makes an effort to be sustainable.

The trouble is, talking isn’t really enough. What we ultimately need to do is take responsibility for the state of the Earth; we all need to do our part to ensure we keep things clean. In the case of event management, that means reducing the environmental impact as much as possible by running sustainable events.

Buy Green

The first thing you’ll need to start doing is weighing environmental impact alongside quality and price. Although this may end up costing you a bit more in the long run, it’s a price you’re going to have to pay if you want sustainability. Here are a few best practices for sustainable purchases:

  • Prioritize organic, fair-trade food and drink. Ensure all food products you buy are acquired responsibly.
  • Buy local to reduce transportation emissions.
  • Consider planning out vegetarian meals rather than making heavy use of meats, as the harvesting of vegetables has a significantly lower impact on the environment.
  • Try to avoid using disposable utensils and dishes (or use them and recycle them afterwards).
  • Donate left-over food to local charities instead of throwing it out.
  • Consider reusing/recycling lanyards or ID badges.
  • Favor goods, services, and vendors that foster positive social and economic development with a minimal impact on the environment.
  • Set up an efficient procurement strategy for office supplies.
  • Go paperless, both in your marketing plans and within the events team. If you absolutely must print something, be sure to use double-sided printing.

Select The Right Venue

Selecting a green venue is every bit as important as practicing sustainable purchasing.  To that end, the first thing you’ll need to do is ensure the facility managers have adopted sustainable practices themselves. Do they consciously conserve energy and water? Do they use green construction materials? Do they offer recycling services and buy locally-sourced goods?

Even if they don’t do any of the above, ask them if they’re willing to get the site’s performance up to par in preparation for your event.

Additionally, try to select a venue that’s both located in the same city as the majority of your attendees and situated near several major transit routes. If you can’t accomplish one or both of the above, consider providing a shuttle service of some kind for your attendees, that you might reduce the energy and emissions typically used in transportation.

Aim For Energy Efficiency

Although you could feasibly provide the energy for your event directly through the mains, don’t discount the possibility of utilizing your own independent (and environmentally sound) energy sources. Portable power generators, for example could significantly reduce the amount of energy drawn from the surrounding grid. Of course, whether you’re getting power from the grid or from your own generators, you want to be absolutely certain you’re using your energy as efficiently as possible. That means taking a look at your equipment and making sure none of it is devouring more power than it needs to, and possibly even disabling equipment that’s not absolutely necessary.

Sort Your Waste And Manage Your Emissions

The most complex step you’ll need to take in order to keep your events sustainable is waste and emission management.

  • Set up a compost program for all food waste, and recycling stations for other waste. Make sure both are clearly marked so that attendees can find them with relative ease.
  • Calculate your event’s carbon footprint. If you’re running a smaller event, this shouldn’t be too difficult – just use an online emission calculator. For larger events, however, you’re going to need to hire on a consultant or use a carbon offset provider.
  • Offset any event-related emissions that occur in spite of your best efforts.
  • Find hotels that are within walking distance of your event venue.

Engage Your Attendees

Last, but certainly not least, get your attendees involved in your event’s sustainability. Make them aware of the environmental initiatives you’ve chosen to implement. Encourage them to take part in linen reuse programs in their hotels, and to be conscientious about how much power they use. Make them aware of your recycling and waste management programs, and offer them some incentive for participating, if you deem it necessary.

Everything  – from your website to your promotional materials to your press releases – should make reference to your environmental efforts.