Events and functions can carry large carbon footprints. A typical conference attendee produces 1.89 kilograms of waste per day, while a 1000-person, three-day event can produce 530 metric tons of CO2e. As businesses around the world are looking for ways to reduce their impact on their environment, many are turning to greener partners for more sustainable events.
7 ways to create more sustainable events
1. Choose a sustainable venue
Choosing a venue that suits your technological and practical needs is a difficult task—and that’s before taking environmental factors into account. Aside from looking at a venue’s features and facilities, it’s also important to vet its sustainability credentials.
The good news is that eco-minded, sustainable conference and events venues are becoming increasingly common. Many venues have full details about their environmental approach and responsibility on their promotional material. Look for a green stamp of approval from a reputable environmental organisation, and then consider the venue’s policies on reducing their impact on the environment. You should look into recycling initiatives, reduced dependence on single-use plastic and paper, energy and water conservation, and the use of responsible vendors and suppliers.
2. Pick a responsible location
A venue’s green credentials are important but equally critical is its location. Private transportation contributes a significant amount to global carbon emissions, so if you can run your event close to public transport hubs, or walking distance from delegates’ accommodation, you can drastically reduce your event’s carbon footprint.
If your event requires the attendance of international delegates, consider hosting it at a function at the airport itself. This will reduce the need for ground transportation upon arrival.
3. Allow for remote attendance
If your event usually requires attendees to drive long distances, or even fly in from abroad, consider reducing the carbon footprint of business travel by hosting smaller local events—or allowing virtual attendance options.
Streaming your keynote speeches for delegates who don’t need to be there in person can drastically reduce the carbon footprint of your event.
4. Eliminate potential waste from your events
Events can generate a startling amount of waste—posters, tickets, catering materials, and uneaten food all contribute to the landfill. Technology can help to reduce this waste and ensure you run more sustainable events. Announce the event online, distribute e-tickets to attendees, and avoid the temptation to print out flyers and promotional items that can be displayed digitally.
When it comes to catering, look for companies that offer more sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic cutlery. Obtain the full dietary requirements of attendees ahead of time. This will help you cater more accurately and limit the amount of food waste at your event. Consider teaming up with local charities who can safely and hygienically redistribute some of your unused food after the event.
5. Set up recycling bins at the venue
Recycling plays a big role in limiting your event’s impact on the environment. Set up clearly-marked, convenient recycling bins at the venue to sort trash immediately.
This is a simple but highly effective way to ensure the company handling your waste at the event can do so responsibly. If you are outsourcing your event’s waste management, choose a company with a clear recycling policy.
6. Cut back on swag bags
Swag bags are popular at many conferences and events. Although attendees snap these up, it’s not uncommon for most of the contents to end up in the trash, or stashed away at the back of a closet.
Ask exhibitors not to hand out meaningless goodie bags at the event. In particular, they should avoid flyers, cheap promotional items, and anything that won’t pass through airport security. If exhibitors feel strongly about handing out some kind of swag bag, encourage them to include only low-waste ideas or items that people may actually use.
7. Set up green or group transport if needed
Give your attendees the option to use green transport to get to and from the event. Individual cars contribute a significant amount to greenhouse gas emissions. But public transport, carpooling and shuttle buses are more eco-friendly.
Uber for Business provides electric vehicle, public transit and carpooling options in the Uber app in certain destinations. This makes getting to and from an event easier and more environmentally friendly. A great added incentive for special guests is to offer them Uber vouchers, so they don’t have to drive alone to the event.
Many events generate waste, involve unnecessary travel, use a significant amount of energy, and do little to take into account the impact they are having on the environment. But hosting more sustainable events is getting easier and more enticing. With a renewed focus on the environment, the introduction of benefits like transport vouchers, and careful consideration of the location, you can still host a memorable event that’s also green.