Events that bring people together are wonderful—they’re what we love more than anything. However, they often come along with a few less-than-desirable side effects, such as waste production and single-use resource consumption. The good news? They don’t necessarily have to.
Despite the already logistically complex reality of organizing an event, it is entirely possible (and incredibly important) to prioritize event sustainability throughout every step of the process.
If you don’t know where to begin, the steps we discuss below are a great place to start. These strategies will help you do your part in making your event a little more environmentally friendly while simultaneously inspiring your attendees to follow suit!
Partner with vendors who share your values
As you go about selecting the vendors you’ll partner with to bring your event to life, be conscious of their attitude and commitment towards environmentally friendly events. Whether it be how your contracted hotel manages its waste or if your caterer provides reusable utensils, being selective about the vendors you work with is a great way to ensure your next event represents your values.
Consider the following:
- Does the vendor you’re partnering with dispose of waste responsibly? (i.e. do they embrace current waste disposal and recycling best practices).
- Does your selected venue décor provider rely too heavily on single-use decorative items and plastics? Are there reusable decorative options to choose from?
- Is the venue located in a centralized area accessible by more than one means of transportation to reduce the carbon emissions of guests arriving by car? If not, consider sourcing a shuttle service or offering local transit maps online ahead of time, so your attendees can easily and sustainably commute between the venue and city center.
These are just a few of the points to keep in mind when selecting your partners! Never hesitate to raise the question of sustainability with your vendors and see if they are open to offering more environmentally friendly solutions to meet the needs of your event. Remember to incorporate your agreement into your contract.
Provide sustainable solutions
An excellent opportunity to practice sustainability throughout your event journey (and beyond) is to rely primarily on products that can be repurposed repeatedly for future events. Taking time to swap out single-use purchases with items that have a bit more longevity can reduce waste significantly, along with how much you spend on goods.
Eventbrite suggested “asking attendees to return their lanyards of badge covers after an event so they can be used again or using whiteboards or chalkboards instead of print signs that are more difficult to reuse.” A solution could be to provide drop-off bins for attendees to hand off their items before exiting the event so they don’t end up in the trash bin. Best of all, these minor changes are budget-friendly and simple to execute!
Be vocal about your environmental efforts
When it comes to inspiring your attendees to follow suit in your organization’s commitment to environmental sustainability, it’s critical that you’re clearly communicating your efforts to them and the role they play in it all. Educate your attendees on the sustainable practices you’ve put in place and highlight how they can be more environmentally conscious pre- and post-event.
EventUp mentions that public transit and carpooling are great ways for attendees to avoid traffic and city congestion while reducing carbon emissions. You could consider opening your event platform a little early to allow attendees to connect with fellow eventgoers and coordinate rides to and from the venue together.
Don’t shy away from encouraging small wins like bringing reusable water bottles onsite or taking advantage of the free coffee offered at the venue instead of driving out of the way to the local coffee shop. Selecting a venue with clearly marked and easily accessible water and food stations can significantly simplify the process of reducing waste for attendees.
Minimize your paper trail
This step potentially has the biggest impact when it comes to reducing the footprint of your event.
Guidebook Blog highlights how attendees produce around four pounds of waste daily at an event. How much of that waste would you guess comes from handouts, programming, badges, and other paper waste that could easily be translated onto a digital source like a mobile event app, community platform, or website?
An app, platform or landing page can conveniently hold all the essential event resources, eliminating the need for paper handouts that often get lost in the bottom of attendees’ bags or, worse, end up in the trash. Ditch the paper and take a digital route when sending out event invitations, programming, and other miscellaneous bits. The planet will thank you for it!
Remember, all efforts count! Whether you slowly introduce one of these practices into your event planning journey or rip off the band-aid and incorporate all four, your actions have an impact!