Going Green – Moving to Sustainable Events

By Sonya Callan

We would all like to think of ourselves as doing our bit to contribute to a greener environment, and whilst we recycle at home and bring our re-useable coffee cups to work with us, is it possible to go green on a larger scale for events?  Here are a couple of ideas to get you thinking.

Sustainable venue  

There are a number of different elements to be considered when you are choosing your event venue.  Every area will have their own version of certified environmental management systems so it is important to check in with your venues to see do they comply.  A lot of venues now produce details on their websites so it is important to check what their policies are.

Transport Options

When choosing your venue, you also need to take into account your attendees and where they are travelling from.  From an environmental point of view the location that will require the least amount of air miles and driving hours should be your first choice. 

Choosing venues with public transport close by is the ideal however if that isn’t an option perhaps you could provide coaches or other transport options to move your group from one location to another cutting down on car journeys.

Another way to cut down on travel is to host virtual events, which are becoming more and more popular as time goes on.  With the technology available to everyone, virtual events can significantly reduce your carbon footprint with attendees logging in from the comfort of their offices or homes.

Event Consumables

So you have your ‘green’ venue and now you need to think about the various other elements for your event.  One of the main waste culprits at events is the amount of paper waste from name badges, to copies of presentations, and registration packs. 

Simple things like using screens to show agendas and seating plans will reduce signage needs, generic directional signage can also be used from event to event. 

Online registration portals are becoming more and more popular and available to all.  These cut down on signing in times, queues for registration desks and more importantly those reams and reams of ‘sign-in’ sheets and information packs. If you run regular events for the same groups of attendees could you recycle name badges? Something to think about.

Another example of unnecessary waste are plastic water bottles which are provided at most events.  According to an article in The Guardian newspaper from 2017 one million plastic bottles are bought across the globe every minute and these numbers only continuing to rise, full article here.  Asking your venue or caterers to provide filtered water and recyclable cups for attendees can help to combat these rising figures.

Sustainable suppliers

With the growing focus on environmentally friendly events it is also important to choose your event suppliers carefully, discuss your requirements with them, review their environmental policies and ensure they are aligned with yours.

Staff training

Your event staff are the main promoters on the ground for your sustainable event.  Ensure your staff are fully trained and familiar with the onsite facilities so that they can help your attendees use the recycling facilities correctly.

Between us all, with some small changes we can start to contribute to a greener world.