How to Plan a Sustainable Event: the Ultimate Guide

It doesn’t matter if you are passionate about the environment, or if your attendees want you to improve your environmental credentials, it is important to know how to plan a sustainable event. It might seem like planning a green event is another complication, given everything you need to consider when organizing an event. With a little effort and thought, you can understand and minimize the environmental impact of your event. These are just nine steps to create environmentally sustainable events.

What is sustainable event management?

In recent years, sustainability has been a major concern for events. This trend is only going to continue. Simply put, sustainable event management refers to making choices that minimize the environmental impact of an event. As a creator, it is your responsibility to reduce the event’s carbon footprint as much as you can. Your event’s sustainability starts in the planning phase. This impacts all your decisions, including those of the sponsors, contractors, and suppliers.

How can you organize a sustainable event?

  • Virtualize your business (or hybrid).

When it comes to making your event more eco-friendly, the ultimate question is: It should not be an in-person event. Hybrid or virtual events are more sustainable and offer a wider audience at lower costs. Although not all events are able to be moved to virtual format, event organizers around the globe are coming up with innovative ways to host some live events online, such as music festivals and corporate retreats.

  • Recycle, upcycle and recycle

Consider using recycled or upcycled materials when choosing materials for your event. Single-use items produce a lot of waste and are also banned in certain states and territories. Do your best to find items that have a second chance. You could ask attendees to return their badge covers or lanyards after the event to make it possible to use them again. Or you could use whiteboards and chalkboards to replace print signs that are difficult to reuse. To further reduce the environmental impact of your event, you can make it completely plastic-free.

There will always be materials that aren’t recyclable. You can recycle paper, cardboard, or plastic in these cases. Your event should encourage attendees to recycle by making sure it is clear where and for what purpose the recycling stations are located.

  • Plan for green catering

Catering is essential to green event planning. Food is a key driver of climate change. Your event can be more sustainable by reducing the amount of meat offered and offering more plant-based alternatives. Many events resort to over-catering, which can lead to waste. You can reduce food waste by accurately estimating how much food is required for each event, its type, and the timing of the activities or breaks. Also, you can create an RSVP website that includes specific fields to help people RSVP. Selling food and drink packages ahead of time could increase your event revenue and reduce food waste.

It is important to ensure that any perishable, unconsumable food has been properly handled so that it can be donated to foodrescue programs.

  • Keep it local

It is best to source the items you need locally to cut down on travel costs. It also supports the local community. Think about the season and the availability of food.

  • Send digital invitations to save trees

You might consider avoiding paper invitations due to the negative impact that deforestation can have on climate change. Instead of sending out information packs and invitations, you can cut down on waste and postage costs by using free tools and tips that promote your event. Create an event page with all the details for your attendees and send out invitations via email from your account. Your digital invitation can look as attractive as a printed one thanks to a variety of customization tools. You can also see who opened your email invitation and unsubscribed to your mailing list, allowing you to make data-driven decisions.

Attendees can also download the app to receive their tickets right from their mobile phones. Simply scan the QR code to check in attendees – it’s completely paperless!

  • Green transport options

Carbon emissions from single-occupant cars can have a negative impact on the environment. Make sure you do your research before choosing a venue. Also, make sure there are plenty of public transport options nearby. There may be discounted tickets available from some public transport companies for event attendees. Check with your venue to find out if your city council events team can support your sustainability goals.

  • Chemical toilets are the best!

Not only are chemical toilets unpleasant, but they can also be harmful to the environment. You might consider using the more modern, environmentally friendly options for toilets at your outdoor event. Sawdust can be used to remove odors and it can be composted to spread the waste on the fields for food. Include some recycled toilet paper.

  • Partner with sustainable event suppliers

You need to work with sustainable suppliers in order to run a truly green event. You can trust that suppliers will do everything they can to help make your event green. When choosing suppliers, it’s a smart idea to make a list. This will allow you to set your requirements and only work with suppliers who meet them. You might require that all props and decorations for your event be washable. Find a supplier who can do this.

  • Hire a sustainable event venue

It is easy to make your event green by choosing sustainable venues. They will take care of everything for you. You can save water, power, waste, and provide organic food to your guests. This will help offset any carbon emissions.

Examples for sustainable events

PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival

The PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival team surprised their guests with reusable gift bag giveaways during Melbourne Fashion Week, and other events throughout the year. These bags are made with cotton offcuts from clothing manufacturing and polyester from reclaimed plastic bottles. They also recycle volunteer t-shirts, and promote environmentally friendly designers.

O-Week Events University of New South Wales

Arc@UNSW strives to provide a schedule of sustainable events for students, particularly during ‘O-Week (orientation week), when new students are welcomed to their Sydney campus. Arc@UNSW events implement sustainability measures such as reusing venue signage and banning or reducing the use of plastic. They also use only recycled paper products in everything, from marketing collateral to toilet papers.

Live Music Lake Macquarie

The Lake Macquarie City Council Events team supports local creators by implementing sustainable practices at events held in city council venues. Live Music Lake Macquarie, an event organized by Lake Macquarie City Council, supports local food producers and encourages people to ride bikes or take public transport to get to the event.

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