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How to create Sustainable Events

Updated: Mar 12, 2020

With sustainability continuously on the rise and more businesses looking for ways to act economically and environmentally responsible, event planners should also consider how they could do their part to positively impact the planet. Sustainability has been one of the top event trends for the past few years and it shows no signs of stopping, so its time to start thinking about how to implement ways to make your events environmentally friendly.

Being sustainable means to avoid the destruction of our world’s natural resources. But, what is the end goal of this? Essentially, the final result we want is to help maintain balance in the environment and minimise negative ecological impact.

Creating sustainable events is what we consider to be key to being a responsible and effective event planner, so we want to share a few core ideas that you can implement to go green and incorporate the sustainable event trend quickly and efficiently. Some will take time to apply, but all good things take time!

1. It starts at the beginning, planning.

The event planner’s role is to make changes in the events created. This will require you to brainstorm and think outside the box to identify the first steps you can take to make your events more sustainable. Before you can make the bigger changes, you should consider all the areas you can begin to make changes. Work out your impact, and divide them into groups so it is easier to manage.

2. Involve and consult with any and all contractors

When you are first selecting contractors for the job, take extra note of what efforts they already have in place to reduce environmental impacts. If it’s not clear what procedures they have in place, just ask them and maybe come up with effective sustainable alternatives or measures that suit the events needs.

One example if you are running outdoor events, is to get your power contractor to measure the power usage using a monitoring system. By doing this you can better see how much power is actually being used and in turn, wasted. Be sure to keep contractors involved from the beginning, so they have time to prepare and get their ducks in a row to prevent any damage to the environment.

3. Reduce paperwork

It is as simple as going paperless, to make a larger impact. Make use of the digital channels instead and reduce your own paperwork! From mailing out invites, sending reminders and communicating with guests, there are many online methods you can now use to minimise your footprint and allow you to connect with staff, guests and contractors in real time.

If you'll be creating banners, cut-outs photo frames or more to add fun and flair to your event be mindful of keeping it generic, and not limiting yourself so they can't be reused. For example, if it's an annual event, avoid putting the dates or sponsor information on the collateral so you can keep reusing them and reducing waste.

You will soon realise that you are saving money and time in the long run, as you wont have to print thousands of leaflets or ordering stock, when changes are made to the event. Emailing out reminders or sending push notifications will be more effective than constantly printing, packaging and posting!

4. Food and Drink

Consider everything from seed to plate, and you’ll soon see this is actually one of the easiest parts of contributing to a sustainable event. Look at using reusable or biodegradable plates, cups and cutlery if you expect a high waste rate. This is quite typical for events, so remember to try and not over-order food by gaining an accurate guest count and finalising this amount with the caterer.

If you do end up with loads of left over food, then donate it to those in need. It has become much easier to do this now through local programs, so use it as an opportunity to make a charitable donation.

Minimise waste and only order enough food for the confirmed attendees. Any food left-over can be donated to local charities

5. Waste Management

Every year, we see another iconic image showing us post-event wastage left behind from guests, who assume the venue floor is also the dumping ground. After attendees have left, the venues or sites hosting events are filled with trash and rubbish polluting some of the most beautiful outdoor landscapes or indoor venues.

Avoid upsetting the venue and its neighbours, by focusing on managing the waste from the planning stage. Confirm that your event venue recycles their waste, and if they don’t have a system already in place then begin making your own. The most important thing is to make it as easy as possible for your event guests to recycle, and maintain the venue whilst still enjoying the event and encouraging them to properly place their litter in the recycling bins provided to help reduce the waste.

Green grass and zero litter means the waste points were known and used!

6. Transportation and Location

If your event requires attendees to travel to and from, you can consider arranging shuttle busses from 2 or 3 main pick-up points, to greatly reduce the use of cars. Not only will this reduce your events carbon footprint, but it will also make your attendees experience easier and still enjoyable. Alternatively, you can pick an easily walkable location for your event, which is accessible by public transport or by foot to greatly decrease your environmental impact.

Sourcing a venue with plenty of things to do nearby such as shopping or dining are important as this will be a benefit to your attendees who may be travelling from far.

7. Digital World and Sustainable Social

A rise in the development of new digital technologies means changes are constantly being made to the way we do business. The sustainable event trend married with the increase in digital avenues means as event planners, we can change the way we operate to enable real, positive impact on our environment.

Using online, digital methods has been mentioned before in this list, but it deserves a point on its own as it serves a much bigger purpose to the wider picture of sustainable events planning. Whatever the event, there are tons of ways to implement online, digital and social tools to make your event business more sustainable.

One major way to add sustainability and streamline your service is to create an online platform for registration. You can use this to activate and automatically send notifications, email reminders, e-ticket confirmations, and much more! It’s super easy to create, and will save you and your attendees time which is better spent on other things, and heavily reduces paperwork.

Leverage social media to deliver more information to your event guests. Using social media has another huge bonus, as it gains more online traction and increases social engagements to help endorse your event to a larger audience. Making a Facebook event group for attendees to directly discuss the event, posting the event map on Pinterest or Tweet-ing the daily programs; share these details in a more environmentally friendly way as opposed to printing out non-reusable pamphlets.

An exceptional way to do all of this in one place and if your budget allows, is to build an App for your event. This makes all your event information readily available at your attendees fingertips, so they can be constantly and easily engaged before, during and after the event. Social media and apps allow you to communicate and reach attendees in real time, so ensure you are using social to properly reach and sustainable conduct your event.

Stay tuned with us on our social media, @associateevents as we take you behind the scenes to show you how we create sustainable events. We’ll keep you updated with more great and easy ways to keep your events green and on-trend, just subscribe to our newsletter and blog now!

At Associate Events, we are committed to being mindful of our environmental impact and we are proud to continue producing sustainable events all year round. If you’d like us to help you in creating an amazing, environmentally friendly events then get in touch with us now by email or give us a ring on 0116 464 5995 for a chat.

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