7 Tips for Planning Sustainable Events
What is a sustainable event?
A sustainable event is an event focused on minimising its negative impact on the environment while maximising its positive contribution to keeping the world a greener place for future generations.
The term “sustainable” refers to the concept of continuing or maintaining our usual way of life without depleting natural resources or harming the environment. In essence, sustainability is a way of life where we meet the current needs of the population while ensuring the environment can also meet the needs of future generations.
What are the benefits of sustainable events?
Choosing to go green in your next event comes with a lot of great benefits not just for the attendees but for your event marketing as well. It not only benefits the environment, but also you as the organiser, your attendees, and even the broader community.
To better understand the importance of having a sustainable event, here are its key benefits:
- Lower carbon footprint
- Conservation of resources
- Reduction of waste
- Preservation of biodiversity
- Community engagement
- Education and awareness
- Improved brand image
- Legal and regulatory compliance
- Long-term viability
As you can imagine, sustainable event management produces lower greenhouse gas emissions, which helps in the fight against climate change. What’s more, event sustainability saves you money and resources, further increasing your revenue.
What’s excellent about sustainable events is that they raise awareness in the minds of the public. It inspires people to also do their part in taking care of the environment.
How to plan a sustainable event
Now that you know what a sustainable event is and its benefits, it's time to dig into the core of our discussion. How can you exactly hold a sustainable event? Here are practical tips:
1. Understand your sustainability goals
What exactly do you want to achieve in your sustainability efforts? Setting clear sustainable goals will guide you in planning your event. To help you get started, consider these sustainability goals:
- Reduce carbon emissions
- Minimise waste
- Conserve resource
- Increase awareness and inspire the public
- Educate people about sustainability
Achieve these goals by implementing various strategies, which you will learn more about as you continue reading.
2. Select a sustainable venue
In your pursuit of eco-friendliness, don’t just choose any venue, choose one that is conscious about the role it plays in improving the planet. In Australia, there are certain certifications that you can look for in a venue. These may include the following:
- EarthCheck Certification
- ECO Destination Certification and Sustainable Destination Certification
- Green Star Certification
- Sustainable Event Alliance (SEA) Membership
- Carbon Neutral Certification
Please note these certifications may not be available for all venues. Some venues may practise sustainability without pursuing formal certifications. Therefore, it's essential to engage in dialogue with venue management regarding their environmental initiatives.
3. Reduce and manage waste
All events generate waste products. There will always be something that needs to be disposed of after the event. While you can't entirely eliminate waste, you can certainly minimise it.
Here are some essential strategies on how to plan a sustainable event that minimises waste, making it more sustainable and environmentally friendly:
- Use reusable items: Opt for reusable rather than disposable items. Avoid plastic plates, cups, and utensils. Encourage attendees to bring their own tumblers instead of using single-use plastic bottles. Consider environment-friendly giveaway ideas. Think about reusing materials for banners, signage, or other promotional items, and choose recyclable materials when possible.
- Minimise paper usage: Reduce paper waste by considering digital tickets instead of printed tickets. If printing is necessary, use recycled paper and maximise each page to reduce the overall paper and ink usage.
- Reduce food waste: Encourage everyone to be mindful of food waste by taking only what they'll enjoy. Get creative with leftovers, or let your guests take them home for a tasty snack later. And if there's still extra, think about sharing the goodness with local shelters or food banks.
- Sell tickets online: If you’re selling tickets, doing it on the web or a mobile device is a great alternative to printing tickets. It will help you reduce paper and energy use. What’s more, selling online allows you to reach more people.
Remember the mantra: "Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle." Be proactive in identifying opportunities to reduce waste when learning how to plan a sustainable event. While it may require additional effort, it is well worth it as it saves money and contributes to a healthier planet.
4. Choose eco-friendly transportation
If you’re providing transportation, make your event more sustainable by opting for eco-friendly transit methods such as electric or hybrid vehicles.
Look for eco-friendly transportation companies or service providers and explore potential partnerships that offer special discounts in exchange for promoting their environmentally safe services during your event.
To have sustainability in events, encourage attendees to carpool, use public transportation, bike, or walk to the venue whenever possible. Choose a venue that is easily accessible by public transportation and offers amenities like electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and bike-friendly infrastructure, including dedicated lanes and bike racks.
5. Save energy and water
Energy and water are among the most crucial aspects of modern life, and they are extensively used by many people. Without access to energy and water, society's progress and innovation would come to a halt. Therefore, it’s important to conserve energy and water, especially during events, where a significant amount of both resources are consumed.
Here are some tips to help you save energy and water during your event:
- Utilise CFL or LED bulbs for lighting.
- Maximise the use of natural light whenever possible.
- Opt for energy-efficient appliances and equipment for your event.
- Ensure that your equipment is well-maintained to avoid unnecessary electricity wastage.
- Explore renewable energy sources, such as portable solar panels.
- Install water-efficient fixtures.
- Implement water recycling practices, including the collection of rainwater and the reuse of non-potable water.
6. Educate people
Sustainable event planning becomes even more effective when you engage stakeholders, attendees, sponsors, and partners. The more people involved, the more can be accomplished. When everyone collaborates, conserving energy and water, reducing waste, and utilising environmentally safe transportation becomes easier to achieve.
By sharing knowledge and inspiring action, event sustainability not only benefits the immediate environment but also contributes to a more informed and responsible global community.
7. Partner with green vendors
Seek out green vendors and event sponsors to enhance the sustainability of your occasion. These vendors can span various categories, from caterers to transportation companies, depending on the businesses available in your area.
Green vendors share your commitment to a greener event, making collaboration with them a powerful way to achieve your sustainability goals.
Various types of green vendors to consider include environment-friendly caterers, reusable tableware suppliers, event planners, transportation providers, zero-waste and recycling event managers, decorators, printing companies, water refill station providers, environmentally safe merchandise vendors, and green technology providers, among others. Check their availability and explore potential partnerships with them.
Choose your path to a greener event
Planning a sustainable event is an essential undertaking in today's society. It represents a social responsibility that all of us should embrace. So, don’t forget to add this to your event planning checklist.
As you've learned from this guide, taking steps to reduce waste, conserve energy and water, and raise awareness can make a significant difference in the success of your event.
Remember the sustainable event guidelines and tips you've learned today. By doing so, you're not only creating a memorable event but also contributing to a sustainable future for our planet.