Small steps can go a long way to ensure your event doesn’t cost the Earth. Are you feeling the pressure to play your part in making your event more eco-friendly?
Then read on…
What is sustainability?
The most frequently quoted definition comes from the UN World Commission on Environment and Development: “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
We can all work as individuals to make our lives a little more eco-friendly: from carrying a reusable coffee cup to buying local produce. The rise in popularity of documentaries such as Attenborough’s Planet Earth have been instrumental in highlighting the pressure on our planet and making a sustainable lifestyle more of a priority to people from all walks of life. But as Event Planners we now have a responsibility more than ever before to do what we can to be sustainable and encourage our guests to be, too. So, what can we do?
Remember small steps are better than no steps – and here are a few top tips to move forward in your approach to sustainability as an event professional.
- Take time to plan
Investing time in your sustainability strategy at the start of your event planning journey can really help to tick boxes and ensure you are doing all that you can. Begin by highlighting the key areas of your event which might need some consideration, such as transport, energy, and catering. Then set clear objectives on what you would like to achieve before deciding how you will, and who will be responsible for tackling each aspect.
- Ditch the paper
How many times have you ended your day as a delegate with heaps of leaflets, name badges and brochures? There are now so many tools which can assist in reducing the need to use excess amounts of paper: online agendas, QR codes, event apps, IPad registration desks to name just a few.
- Keep it local
Ensure you chat to your venue’s catering team to check out where exactly your event food is coming from. Food miles are a huge factor in assessing the overall environmental impact of food- and the further your food travels from where it is grown to where it is consumed, the less sustainable it is. Source local producers – a fantastic opportunity to showcase what the area you have chosen to host your event in has to offer!
- Go the distance
Choose a venue with great public transport links, or walkable hotels. Reduce the need to spend on taxis and transportation for guests and reduce the environmental impact as well as your budget! You could also encourage car-sharing and incentives for guests who choose to take part such as priority entry or parking and discounted admission if relevant.
It might seem like an obvious step, but if you don’t have clearly labelled recycling zones and bins, your guests won’t necessarily seek them out. Plenty of signage dotted around the event and clear instructions on what can be recycled where will really encourage your guests to do their part in making the event as environmentally friendly as they can. You need to make it as easy as possible for those in attendance – whilst recycling might be high up on your list, it won’t always be on theirs when they are rushing to their next seminar or seeking out a networking opportunity.
Ok- so we can’t all be David Attenborough, but hopefully this short list has given you a bit of encouragement to take a new step next time you plan an event, and some inspiration for what you and your team could consider. I’m by no means an environmental expert and don’t pretend to be one- but do check out the many extensive books, articles and interviews on sustainable swaps and see how they could impact you and your responsibility as an event organiser.