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Easy Adjustments for a Greener Event: 8 Areas You Can Make a Big Difference

Easy Adjustments for a Greener Event: 8 Areas You Can Make a Big Difference

October 22, 2019

Now you've stopped making the common sustainability mistakes, it's time to put them into practice in various areas to ensure you aren't overpaying for a green event. Focus your green laser on waste-trimming, efficient practices. Common targets include:

VENUES

  • Start with your venue, which is often one of the largest chunks out of the budget and have open and honest conversations (before you book) about what you want to achieve on a sustainability level.

    • Access, affordability and availability being equal, look at which hotel venue has the best environmental practices. Then, if the chosen vendor doesn't have strong practices, can sustainability be negotiated into the contracts?
    • Cooperating with events preceding and following yours can save on sharable equipment and associated set-up costs.
    • Pick a venue with existing values. If a venue is deliberately sustainable then it can already be incorporated in the hire costs so you don't need to consider it on top. The Crystal in London for example, is one of the choice green event venues for going green events, having hosted Eco summits and other sustainable events. It has 70% fewer C02 emissions as well as various initiatives in its design and architecture that lends to it being greener. Selecting a sustainability-minded destination or venue at the outset can often eliminate costs, and present value-adds for sustainability.

MENUS

Chances are you are going to be serving food of some sort and this can have plenty of sustainability impact, even if you are opting for something small and simple. Menus are a great opportunity to take initiative, responsibility and add sustainability efforts:

  • Accurate ordering systems. Avoid over ordering food while still ensuring you don't run out with accurate ordering systems designed to carefully calculate food per person. Another way you can do this is to have guests pre-order food.
  • Organic meal plans. Sourcing organic food options promotes better health and living as well as reducing carbon footprints further down the process chain.
Digital Menus – Using tablets on tables helps to keep the cost of printing down as well as working in conjunction with automated ordering systems so it is a win-win.

FOOD WASTE

A common misconception within event planning is that sustainably dealing with food waste is difficult and complex. But in recent years, it's actually become a lot easier and although requires extra planning, should run smoothly once protocols are in place. Of course, dealing with food carries its own set of legislation so you should adhere to this when donating, but as a whole it shouldn't be overlooked.

  • Shelter initiatives. Partner with homeless shelters or local initiatives that can take leftover food and disperse it to the needy once your event is over. As long as staff understand what is to be done with it, they can immediately start boxing and storing once food is back in the kitchen as a seamless and sustainable way to deal with food waste.
  • Composting. Although it can have its own associated costs, composting can outweigh what you would pay to landfill and therefore makes it financially viable.
Pre-order. On the other end of the spectrum, ensure you aren't mass producing food that you don't need. Instead, ask attendees to pre-order from a set menu ahead of time.

FLORALS

Packing a powerful punch, you don't want to overlook floral arrangements for your event. However, they aren't very sustainable, with many of them simply being thrown away. If you still want to include them, here's how:

  • Fake flowers. They are reusable, look just as good as the real ones and you can get flowers that match your branding, themes or colors that can be used again and again, particularly for corporate events.
  • Living décor. An increasing trend is living décor which gets the best of both worlds. It allows for a floral or green showcase while being long-lasting and sustainable. This could be something simple like using potted bushes or plants for entrance ways to hanging trailing baskets for aerial décor.
Gift them. Offer the floral arrangements as prizes or gifts as part of the auction, competitions or favors at the end of the event. Many people will pay for a professional arrangement so make it an incentive as well as a way to get more life from your florals.

GREEN ENERGY

Events need power, but where we get it from matters. Use green sources to power some, if not all of your event (depending on size and needs) which can show attendees you care but also promote new forms of energy to guests.

  • Solar panels. These can be integrated into furniture, such as benches or tables as well as being temporarily installed (e.g. for lighting) for longer events. Solar panels can also be pre-installed at many green venues so look out for them.
Attendee powered lounges. Promote healthy living as well as clean energy sources with exercise bikes that help to power technology and comfort within a lounge. You could have smoothie bikes to create your own pedal powered cocktails or something as simple as having them hooked up to colorful lights to change the atmosphere when cycling.

TRANSPORTATION

Probably the biggest contribution to your C02 emissions and event footprint as a whole, particularly if you are drawing attendees from various locations. It's important to consider sustainable transport to offset any of the longer journeys to keep your impact to a minimum.

  • Selecting a walkable convention neighborhood to improve accessibility and remove the need for transport during your event entirely.
  • Renting locally and scheduling and consolidating freight to reduce shipping costs.
Offer a shuttle service to encourage attendees to carpool, saving on parking spaces as well as cutting emissions.

PACKAGING

If it's not necessary, don't use it! Excessive packaging can impact your sustainability in a big way! From excess rubbish needing to be recycled or go to landfill needing to be organized along with the costs associated with this, it's better to be conservative.

  • Unwrap yourselves. Doing this ensures everything will be recycled and managed properly rather than leaving it to attendees to unwrap elements at the table or open them at the food station.
  • Avoid single-use packaging. It's best to avoid it altogether to reduce shipping costs and disposal fees.
Biodegradable options. If packaging is necessary, opt for biodegradable options that are less harmful to the environment and could be used again if necessary e.g. hessian bags over plastic.

SWAG

Of course you want to incentivize your event and reward your attendees, but what is the best way to do this sustainably?

  • Digital swag. Offer discount codes, e-tickets or downloadable freebies to your attendees, none of which need printing but still are just as cool.
  • Community rewards. Instead of tangible products, offer to make a donation in the winner's name to a local charity or program in need.
  • Reusable items. Encourage a memory of sustainability by offering reusable items to guests. For example, hessian tote bags, reusable travel items and mugs or cups.

Learn more tips for a greener event.


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