Green events minimize negative environmental impact by incorporating sustainability consciousness in the planning and execution. Event organizers aim to use fewer resources, reduce waste, conserve energy and use clean energy. It is not just a fast-growing trend in the events industry. As sustainability consciousness increases, sustainable event certification may become a mandatory requirement.
This may sound scary, but you need not be intimidated. If you have an event coming up, we can help you think about the venue, the waste generation avenues, and how to manage waste at the event. These ideas will help you plan a successful green event – one that impacts generations and impresses sponsors.
1. Choose a green-certified venue.
The venue is a crucial factor in hosting a green event. Not only will you use the space, but you are likely to use the lighting, catering, and other resources available at the venue. Therefore, look for vendors who are conscious of their responsibilities. For example, locations that meet the Sustainable Events Standards by the Events Industry Council.
2. Host your event outdoors.
If a sustainability-accredited venue is unavailable to you, and it’s hard to secure one that applies green concepts, consider hosting your event outdoors.
If it is a daytime event, an outdoor venue would be perfect.
You will use less lighting, heating, and air conditioning. Besides, hosting the event outdoors would reinforce your commitment to sustainability. Moreover, it could cost much less – a big plus for the sponsors.
3. Ditch printed stuff. Go for digital.
Consider not having any printed materials on site. Have no flyers and no papers. Go digital and use smartphone alerts, apps, and LED screens to communicate different messages.
Why? Vinyl banners are not easy to recycle. They are made from Polyvinyl Chloride, a type of plastic that is not biodegradable and is hard to recycle. When the event is over, vinyl banners are thrown away in landfills choking the land.
On the other hand, dishing out reams of printed materials means more stuff for your event bins.
Using LED screens and smartphone alerts will cost you less than printing vinyl banners and loading delegates with printed material. It is a more attractive proposal to your sponsors. Besides, digital devices make it easy to collect metrics like views and engagement.
4. Everyone must attend, but not necessarily physically – go hybrid.
The mark of a successful event is massive attendance and deep engagement. But in a COVID-stricken world, this may not be an ideal to pursue. Besides, high turnouts also mean plenty of resources consumed and tons of waste produced.
Have other delegates attend the event virtually. For those who must be at the physical event, let them share land rides and use sustainable transportation options. According to a study by Cambridge University, this could reduce emissions by a massive 90%.
5. Develop a robust waste management plan.
According to the EPA, each American produces 4.5 pounds of waste per day. An event with 500 attendees would, at the minimum, produce 2.5 tons of waste. You must have a waste management plan.
Talk to the event caterers and venue vendors about waste management. Find out if they have recycling and composting programs. Do they recycle paper, glass, metal, and other materials? Are there additional costs involved? If you’re putting on the event yourself or it’s outdoors, make sure to invest in waste receptacles and recycling bins and have a sustainable waste disposal plan in place.
If there is no solid waste plan, you could support setting up solid waste management facilities and use it as an opportunity to attract another sponsor.
6. Do away with single-use products
Speaking of solid waste management, one material you don’t want to have at the venue is single-use plastic. Consider the following moves to help you ditch single-use plastic:
- Use bamboo-based spoons and straws instead of single-use plastic.
- Consider going straw-free, let attendees drink straight from the cup or bottle.
- Use sanitized glasses along with automated beverage dispensers.
Understandably, ditching single-use products in a post-COVID world could be a long shot. Therefore, consider using biodegradable or compostable products such as tableware.
7. Nil food wastage
Still on managing solid waste, food waste constitutes a significant proportion of the 2.5 tons to be produced at your event. We waste massive amounts of food. Each year, rich countries generate about 222 million tons of food waste. This is almost equal to all the food produced in sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tons).
Food waste often ends up in landfills, and as it decomposes, it releases enormous amounts of greenhouse gas – methane. But you can make a huge difference by doing the following:
- Do not over-cater. Seldom would you hear of underfed people in an event. You could be bold and under-cater.
- Engage caterers known for sustainable practices
- Partner with food donation organizations to help manage anything untouched.
- Partner with livestock feed, industrial energy, and compost-making entrepreneurs.
8. Finally, promote recycling and sustainability practices during your events.
There are many ways you can promote recycling at your events. You could take the following steps:
- Donate unused materials.
- Make it easy for attendees to recycle: place well-labeled bins at various spots in the event venue.
- Use reusable materials instead of disposable. For example, cloth napkins instead of paper.
Go a step further and make a sustainability impression. Organize a raffle or game in which attendees stand a chance of winning by observing sustainability behavior and advocating for it. This way, you can make a significant difference in the event and the conscience of the delegates.