Sustainable event planning is a win win win: It’s good for the earth, it’s good for your brand, and it’s good for your budget. If you’re a planner interested in adopting sustainable best practices, you’re not alone — going green is a growing trend in the industry. And planners aren’t the only ones invested. Attendees care about the environment, and they reward events and brands that share their values. The good news is that there are a few simple steps you can take. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways for how to make an event sustainable.
It’s time to ditch the paper
We’ve been to plenty of events that have both an event app and handouts. We’ve also been to events that distribute handouts that contain out-of-date info — and they also have an event app. Either way, paper just doesn’t make any sense anymore. If you’ve ever ordered paper handouts, signage, etc. for an event, you know how expensive it can get. Commit to your mobile app, and when things change or update (as they always seem to do), you can make instant content updates.
Digitize your signage
Signage is a common paper expense for events, and these provide directions, designate space, make announcements, etc. With digital signage or kiosks, a new world of possibility opens up. For instance, we’ve talked a lot about the benefits of personalization. With kiosks, you can take advantage of facial recognition, beacons, or QR that can identify the attendee and offer personalized itineraries and directions.
BYOB (bring your own bag)
Many events hand out bags at registration, often used for collecting freebies at tables and booths. These bags can be a good branding opportunity. But the truth is, most of these bags are cheaply made, and they get thrown in the trash directly after use. Consider suggesting that attendees bring their own bags in your app or promotional emails beforehand.
Cut down on water bottles
Water bottles are a major source of waste. Consider mentioning refillable water bottles in your communications beforehand as well. These are becoming more and more common, and your attendees will appreciate the reminder.
Invite your sponsors to participate
Think about all the sales collateral and other printed material on the average trade show floor. There’s so much! Tell your sponsors how they might ditch the paper, too, and offer their materials in the event app. You can overcome any resistance or hesitation with our next tip.
Using your app for gamification, you can reward attendees who download a sponsor’s digital materials. To further incentivize, add a quiz that rewards attendees who actually read and digest the materials as well. If you assign a high value within the game, attendees will be more than happy to download and read sponsor materials.
Instead of filling up countless trash bags with plastic utensils and cups, do a little research and find a recycled or biodegradable option. These products are becoming more and more commonplace, and prices have gone down. This is an easy sustainability win.
Cut down on food waste
It’s difficult to avoid food waste, especially at larger events. But there are a few simple steps you can take that will make a big difference. First, send out quick polls and/or surveys ahead of time, asking attendees about their dietary restrictions and preferences. You can also arrange to donate extra food to a local food bank or program.
Also, when planning your food options, think local. Much of the environmental impact of food occurs in the transportation. Think about what’s local and in season. As a bonus, your guests will appreciate the chance to sample the local cuisine.
One choice has an outsized impact on your event’s carbon footprint: location. When you’re considering venues, try to stay somewhat close to a major airport, and if possible, choose a location with walkability and/or public transportation. Many venues will also advertise their sustainability bonafides as well, so choose a venue that incorporates sustainability into their lighting, heating/cooling, waste management, etc.
How Can MeetingPlay Help?
Going green is something that planners can feel great about. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that many sustainable practices will help reduce your budget as well. As you go green, make sure you keep attendees in the loop. They’ll appreciate your efforts and they’ll feel great about doing their part.
Do you want to cut your waste in half? Or reduce your paper expenses to zero? Set a goal to focus your efforts. Green event planning is easier when you go digital with an event app. To learn more about incorporating an app into your event, set up a demo with a MeetingPlay expert.