The popularity and demand for green events are rising all the time at a rapid pace.
Consider that only 6% of people believed environmental responsibility significantly impacted their events in 2019, compared to 59% in 2020. The chief reasons for that being:
- They can save you money
- They can appease and impress your guests
- They can build faith in your company
- And they can save the environment!
Sure, reducing your event footprints can be a big undertaking, but every little helps, and we’re with you all the way. Let's talk about a few ways you can impact the environment at your next event.
1. Go Hybrid
Our first idea for your next green event is to go hybrid. According to research by the University of Cambridge, hybrid events can reduce emissions by almost 90%!
Hybrid events are more eco-friendly as they cut down on emissions and waste. Think of the fuel consumed by traveling attendees. Think of the trash caused in aid of core event materials such as brochures and catering. Staying at home simply leads to more sustainable events.
What’s also cool about hybrid events is that it empowers your guests - through the gift of choice. It empowers them to take their carbon footprint into their own hands!
Moreover, hybrid events are gaining momentum in the event industry for their own intrinsic advantages, growing in popularity by 35% since 2020. And that’s a good thing, with research showing that event planners and attendees simply prefer them, with 87% of businesses seeing an ROI on hybrid events within 7 months of the event date.
2. Choose a Green Venue
Our next idea to drastically reduce your event footprint is choosing a green venue. The ultimate in eco-friendly locations are LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).
This is no lip-service sticker that any old venue can lay claim to. It’s a verified title that is hard-won, adhering to key metrics such as energy-saving, water efficiency, CO2 emission reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and responsibility and sensitivity of resources.
Other certifications that signify quality venues include the IACC Green Star certification and the Building Owners and Managers Association Building Environment Standards (BOMA BESt).
However, you can still secure a green venue without the gold standard LEED rating. Here are some of the key signifiers to look out for:
- Recycling programs
- Compostable or recycled materials
- Locally-sourced materials
- Rainwater harvesting
- Blackwater treatment
- Maximal usage of natural lighting
- Renewable energy resources
- Automated building management systems
- Support or donations to non-profits
And perhaps more than anything, a willingness to adopt eco-friendly values will at least set the tone and a precedent for more sustainable events!
3. Ditch Single-Use Plastics
One of the main obstacles to achieving sustainable events is the scourge of single-use plastics.
This is never more obvious that when it comes to your catering. So if you have any desire to tackle your event footprints, make sure you source a sustainable caterer. For example, these are just some tips:
- Provide condiments - sauces, sugars, etc. - in reusable ramekins or dishes for starters.
- Try to use hard cutlery and plates when you can. They can be washed and used again. Alternatively, if you’re using disposable utensils, make sure they’re recyclable!
- The same goes for napkins and tablecloths. If they can’t be washed and used again, spend more money on recyclable options.
Using reusable materials when organizing your catering can sometimes be more hassle and even more expensive. However, the effort will pay dividends for your carbon footprint.
Sadly, however, not everything can be reusable or recyclable. But a lot can be. So with some care and time, you can achieve a green event.
4. Give Out Eco-Friendly Swag
Now, we all know the benefits of good event swag. It’s a beautiful system where everyone wins: your attendee gets something they want, and you - aside from the joy of pleasing your guests - can exercise some effective brand marketing.
Firstly, and most obviously, you can just replace traditional swag items with eco-friendly alternatives. Thereafter, think: what items will give value to your attendees in their day-to-day lives? We’ve rustled up a list of our favorite eco-friendly swag ideas, all of which are affordable to produce and sell to your attendees.
- Reusable Water Bottles
- Branded Plant Pots
- Mesh/Tote bags
- Lunch Box
- Travel Tumbler
- Recycled Stationery
- Travel Utensil Set
Then again, you can always go one step further. Another way to a green event is to ditch the swag. Shocking, we know, seeing as swag is such a core fixture of the event industry. However, in its place, you can replace the traditional physical swag with digital swag.
For example, you could give your guests vouchers for a food delivery platform, e-books, discount codes, game codes, free trials, workshops, and loads more. Plus, eco-friendly swag can be a great opportunity to collaborate with some cool sponsors!
5. Add a Carbon Offset Fee
Another way of reducing your attendee's event footprints is to add a carbon offset fee. There are a whole host of cool initiatives out there, from planting trees to investing in renewable energy and healthy water sources.
You can incorporate this goodwill into the price of your event ticket, or you can leave it to the discretion of the attendees themselves.
If you include it as a hard and fast part of the ticket price, it undoubtedly leads to more sustainable events. Then again, making it optional will lead to cheaper tickets, and give your guests greater agency over their event footprints and their money.
This consideration could prove wise, considering that carbon offset fees are predicted to rise tenfold by the year 2030. Ultimately, however, such decisions are best measured against your event budget and how well you understand your audience.
What we will say is that make sure you do your homework when choosing the initiative you partner with. We advise you to check out Second Nature where you can learn about regulatory bodies that safeguard carbon offsets and list some really cool initiatives that make a lot of difference!
6. Get Rid of Paper and Go Digital
From tickets to schedules, floorplans, and programs, everything can be done with an event app nowadays. Going paperless is a legitimate option, and will go a long, long way to ensuring sustainable events going forward.
And why stop at paper? Another way of digitizing is to get rid of huge banners which are rarely recyclable at the best of times. Instead, you’re better off incorporating LED screens as part of your stage design.
And yes, you’re almost certainly thinking that this will be far too expensive. But to that we say, see it as an opportunity to raise more sponsorship money. Because what sounds more appealing, an old-fashioned banner, or a glowing, animated display? We certainly know which one is more engaging!
Plus, quality event tech won’t just optimize you for achieving sustainable events, they’ll optimize your whole event planning process.
For example, with MeetingPlay + Aventri Hybrid, you can streamline and automate everything from branding to marketing, ticketing, networking, live streaming, post-event analyses, and everything else you could hope do to, all without a shred of paper!
7. Reduce Food Waste
Food waste is a scandal that we don’t talk about enough. The latest research suggests that around 30-40% of food supplies end up as waste.
To put that into more directly relatable numbers, it equates to around one in five of our shopping bags going in the trash. In monetary terms, that’s $3,400 worth of groceries per household each year.
So if you want to get real about reducing your event footprints, you need to tackle food waste in a meaningful way. So, here are some tips to make every gram count!
- If you anticipate having leftover food, you should arrange to donate it to a local charity if the local authority allows it.
- Alternatively, Provide doggy bags. It’s good for the environment, and it will make your attendees happy (so long as you’ve chosen a tasty sustainable caterer)!
- You really ought to Control food portions sizes. Go smaller than you might think. This doesn’t have to be a miserly operation though: make it clear that those who want more can have more.
- But the most important step to avoiding food waste is to collaborate with a sustainable caterer because reducing food waste will be an inherent part of their work.
Bonus: Develop a Waste Management Plan
The beginning of a good waste management plan starts with clear communication with your vendor about what happens to your waste after the event. Properly vetting your event partners is crucial to ensure that your waste is effectively recycled.
Then, of course, you have to make sure that all your bins are clearly and neatly labeled. Then all you have to do is trust your guests to dispose of any trash appropriately.
You can make it even clearer by using bins that have different shaped openings that deter people from misusing them. Say, a circular opening for plastics (think bottles), and a slotted opening for paper.
And finally, you have to make sure to train your staff in sustainable practices. Again, it might seem like common sense. but if you overlook training your staff on your sustainability efforts, it could lead to perfectly reusable goods or food going in the general trash bin or worse!
So there you have it, our guide to sustainable events. We hope you’ve found our ideas as actionable and exciting as we do!
We’d love to hear what you think. And remember, you don’t have to do it alone - go green with MeetingPlay + Aventri! Find out how by booking a demo.