Running a sustainable event can make a positive impact on the environment and people who lead and attend the event. Whether it’s a conference, client outing, or social banquet, making your event green can ensure it has a lasting impact, through conversations and changes that occur for a long time after the event has ended.
Green events can not only save money and valuable resources, but they can position you as a leader. Many people are trying to practice sustainability in their personal lives, and by running any type of sustainable event, you will immediately engage attendees on a personal level.
Events don’t need to be boring in order to be sustainable, either. Below are some green event tips to help you take any event to the greener side of life.
Before The Event:
1. Be Realistic
Planning an event to be green does not mean you have to spend the night before a conference at a hotel changing every one of their light bulbs to an energy-saving one. Consider the type of event being planned, and what areas might benefit from the change the most. Is it a large outdoor social event or an indoor presentation where most attendees will be plugged in with their laptops and cell phones?
This is one of the easiest green event tips, as often times a location that already incorporates sustainability practices into their business can cut down on your work. Search for your event location first. They should not be too difficult to find, either, as hotels and halls use their good citizenship practices as big marketing tools.
If it’s not feasible, try to choose a location near public transportation. Would it be a cost-saving measure to rent a number of vans to provide group transportation from the airport, keeping attendees from having to take separate cabs in smaller numbers? If the event is at a resort, some bicycle shops or groups may rent a set number of bicycles to be available to your group. Encourage travelling this way and clearly let attendees know how they can get around sustainability. Offer maps for attendees with advice on travelling.
Show your sustainability goals from the beginning. Send invites and marketing materials about the event through the internet, adding a statement to the signature at the bottom of all correspondence stating that this event will be practicing sustainability.
Get creative! If you must use traditional means, use recycled paper for all invites, marketing materials, and information packets. Don’t forget to mention in the invitation how the location has been selected for some of its good practices. Part of going green is giving back, and by promoting the venues positives, they will more than likely promote you back as well.
At The Event:
Holding a sustainable event is easier than you may think. There are three practices that anyone can do at any event to make an instant, yet lasting impact.
1. Water Consumption
Almost every event a person attends has water for available for the attendees, but between the water that is not consumed and left in cups, and the plastic cups thrown away, this may be the single area you can demonstrate the largest impact.
Don’t supply water in individual plastic bottles. Offer pitchers of water on tables, or have water stations supplied for people to get water as they need it. Whether it’s an indoor or outdoor venue, rental companies can supply the water stations if the venue itself does not. Eliminate the use of plastic cups, even if you must use paper plates or utensils (use only recycled). An easy way to promote sustainability is by renting glasses for the event.
A really fun way to engage your attendees in sustainable practices is to conduct a “Weirdest Glass Contest”. Let guests know you want them to bring their own glass for water, as it’s a green event, and offer a prize for the weirdest glass. People love to show off their individuality and it makes the effect a lively one. Have a small number of glasses on hand, of course, for those who would prefer not to participate.
Bag the chips and eliminate single-serving food snacks. Have food catered from a green caterer, or work with your venues caterer to provide food and snacks from a local farmers market. If the attendees can’t live without some store-bought chips and pretzels, have the caterer supply large bowls and tongs, and buy some of the snacks in bulk, using less packaging.
Most events, especially corporate ones, offer some sort of trinket or souvenir. Make it count by offering something unique. If you are supplying water stations, then a BPA-free reusable water bottle is an ideal gift.
Giveaways are a key area for getting sponsorship dollars. You might be able to get them at a discount or donated to you by a company that will supply them in exchange for printing their logo on the bottle.
By following these green event tips, you are demonstrating your commitment to practicing sustainability when running an event. Attendees, customers, colleagues, even shareholders will seek you in the future, as sustainable events are becoming the norm.
Strategic Event Design does planning and production of sustainable events in New York and around the world.