We only have one planet, and we need to protect it at all costs. It is time for everyone to start asking themselves: “What can I do to help preserve the planet?”. Let´s start with one activity that can make a difference that is both achievable and gratifying – Sustainable events!
Caring about the environment has already raised a significant amount of awareness in the world. The threat of having our days counted on Earth is real and it has had an impact in many peoples lives. There are so many things we can change in our routine that will contribute to preserving our planets resources. Although the pandemic brought a tremendous amount of negative to our society, the environment was extremely happy with the lockdown. This applies to many circumstances of our lives that have changed, including events! Have you thought about the enormous C02 savings that online events bring? If you haven´t…we have!
On the contrary to what you might think, having a sustainable event is not that hard! For those of you who still have doubts, you are about to be amazed with these 5 sustainable event ideas. Having an event with a reduced environmental footprint and still be an audience pleaser will never be this simple!
1. Choose Eco-Friendly Venues
One of the first steps of organizing an event is to choose the location. For a sustainable event, you need to consider how environmentally conscious they are in managing they energy, water, and catering supply. There are some sustainable event ideas regarding the venue that will make a difference:
First, you can check for sustainable certificates, for instance ISO 20121. Those certificates will provide more sustainability accreditation for both the location and for your event participants who are concerned about their impact on planet Earth. Secondly, you should make sure that the size of the place is adequate to the number of guests that will be attending. Bigger locations demand more preparation, staff, cleaning, energy, and so on. Therefore, the event should take place somewhere where the attendees will feel comfortable and satisfied, but not large enough that a lot of people could also be occupying that place.
Other qualities that the venue should have include recycling, environmentally friendly materials and the use of solar power or solar heating. If it is possible, consider having your event outdoors. It will consume less energy – lighting, air conditioning and heating – and in addition it will be less expensive for you! Lastly, we advise a centrally located venue. That way, there will be easy access to public transportations, which we will further develop in another of our sustainable event ideas!
2. Consider Accessible Transportation Options
As we mentioned in the previous paragraph, the transportation is extremely relevant to make you event more sustainable. Just consider the C02 emissions that could be spared if everyone in an event chose more sustainable means of transportation?
The first of our many sustainable event ideas is based on realizing how the participants are coming to your event. So, we recommend you do a survey to understand where your guests are coming from and how they are planning to arrive and leave the event. This way, you will have a clearer idea of how you can encourage more sustainable transportation vehicles.
After this, you can start considering beneficial and achievable ideas for your attendees to get to the event, for instance shuttle services and carpooling. In addition to the sustainability component, this transportation method has another positive characteristic: It is a great way for the guest to start networking amongst themselves! If the attendees are driving to the event, we recommend the use of electric, hydrogen and hybrid cars!
3. Switch to digital
Meetings and conferences create a significant amount of paper waste that can be easily reduced. Consequently, we have a proposition for you: Switch to digital!
You can start by eliminating paper hand-outs and instead use presentations and USB drives to deliver information. Moreover, swapping printed materials for digital alternatives has other significant benefits. It opens the possibility to be more innovative in the digital world with a custom mobile app or/and an event website. Here your participants will have the possibility to see the agenda, do the check-in and even purchase their ticket online!
There is another advantage that will come from using digital alternatives that is promoting networking and matchmaking between participants and speakers in your event. Undoubtedly, our strongest recommendation would be switching your event enterally to digital by having a virtual event. It would be the most sustainable approach and it would also mean a reduction of costs for your event! But also hybrid events are a great solution for more audience and a smaller footprint.
4. Eco-Friendly Materials
There are many things we can change in the materials we use in an event. Plastic is one of the largest contributors to the extensive pollution in the oceans and it has been creating a massive carbon footprint. Don´t worry, we have many sustainable event ideas for you!
First and foremost, go plastic-free! You should use non-disposable materials to avoid plastic waste, which means no plastic spoons, no plastic utensils, and no plastic plates! This applies also to the food provided by vendors that can be delivered in non-plastic packaging. Furthermore, reuse and recycle! Choose reusable signs, wristbands, totes, and cutlery.
Recycle by using recycling bins in your event but try to opt for recycled materials! We recommend you communicate with your attendees regarding recycling to make sure they know how to proceed and how important this is for your organization/company. Finally, opting for LED lighting will consume less power and will reduce C02 emissions.
5. Reduce food waste
Avoiding food waste is extremely important to help protect our planet and on top of that it is a matter of social responsibility. Again, we will give you accessible and interesting ideas to spare significant amounts of food.
You should start by choose in-season food that can be provided by local vendors. You will minimize the transportation of the caters to your event, which means you will be reducing carbon emissions. Need more convincing? Choosing a local vendor can be great to provide more food on short notice!
After this step, planning the menu needs to be according to the number of estimated attendees. The goal is to provide just the right amount of food. Of course, we know this is easier in theory, but we believe that transparency and honesty is the best policy. With this, I mean that you can communicate before the event with your attendees via email explaining your intention to reduce the food waste of your event and to ask them to let you know as soon as possible if they are not attending the event.
Moreover, another of our sustainable event ideas is to avoid self-serving stations and replace it with more amusing and fascinating catering services. Having a caterer passing by the guests with some food starters will be more appealing for the guests and you will have greater control over the food quantities. We remind you to think about the meals you are going to serve and what the chefs could do later with the leftovers. For instance, bread can be later toasted or turned into croutons for soup or salad. Another alternative is to arrange a deal with a food waste organization that will later use the leftovers of your event for other purposes.
With these five suggestions, your event will have a reduced environmental impact and still be a huge success! After reading this, you cannot say that hosting a sustainable event is that difficult!
We encourage you to try at least some of sustainable event ideas and be astonished by the positive results. Join us in helping our planet!
Author: Rita Villas-Boas