From food to paper to energy, events (especially big ones) can be enormous sources of wasted resources. For the sake of the environment and your wallet, it’s smart to host a green event.
Green events don’t just create a positive impact on the environment (although that’s plenty of reason to host them). They also help your brand.
According to Nielsen, 66% of global respondents are willing to pay more to work with environmentally friendly brands. That’s especially true of Millennials and Generation Z.
In fact, sustainability and environmental responsibility are several of the top purchasing drivers for most people around the world.
In the past, it used to cost a lot of money to do pretty much anything in an eco-friendly way. But that isn’t necessarily the case anymore. By planning ahead, any event can “go green.”
How do you make an event green? By planning it with environmentally safe and responsible practices. There are three ways to do that:
- Reduce the total number of resources used (materials and energy).
- Encourage guests and vendors to reuse resources.
- Dispose of materials in an environmentally friendly way (recycling or donating).
Virtually any aspect of your event can be organized in a green way. Use your event planning creativity to find unique ways to reduce usage and waste. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Choose the Right Location for Your Green Event
Your first step is to choose a venue that meets your green needs.
“The biggest thing that I always tell people about sustainable event planning is to look at where you have the event,” says Kimberly Lewis, Vice President of Conferences and Events at the US Green Building Council.
Your venue should be located in an easily accessible location so your guests don’t have to travel far. If you’re hosting an event for local people, set up in the main hub of your area. If you expect out of town guests, host your event near public transportation hubs and the airport.
Look for a venue that uses a lot of natural light. There’s no need to spend energy if the sun can keep the place lit.
If possible, choose a venue with an extensive solar panel system for its power. Solar energy has come a long way in the last decade. It can easily power lights, sound equipment, Wi-Fi routers, charging stations, and anything else your venue needs. It even works in cloudy weather.
Even if the venue’s solar energy system can’t meet your power demands, the building is still connected to the local electric grid, so it’s not like you would suddenly run out of power during your event.
Most importantly, find a venue that takes sustainability seriously. There are a million ways a venue can make itself sustainable that you can’t control, so find one that already reduces its burden on the environment.
Setup Green Accommodations
Unless your event is so large that you can make demands on local hotels, the best way to make your accommodations green is by recommending hotels to your guests that already abide by green practices.
Call up some local hotels and ask them about their environmental policies. Choose the one that takes their commitment to the environment seriously and establish deals for group rates. Then urge your guest to use those businesses on their trip.
Offer Recycling Opportunities
Recycling is a staple of every sustainable event. If your event doesn’t come with separate recycling bins, you may have to provide your own. Try to place one near every trash bin so no one tosses their recyclable material in the trash for convenience.
Most importantly, make sure the venue actually recycles the contents of the recycling bins. Don’t let them toss recyclable goods in with regular trash because it’s easy.
Distribute Information through an App
Rather than handing out a thick pamphlet that your guests will quickly lose, litter, or throw away, distribute any information they need electronically.
With Superevent, you can give your guests everything they need to have an informed, positive event experience without producing a single piece of paper. Through a custom app, you can create information pages, post schedules (for the event and let users create their own), push announcements, and publish maps. Superevent apps come with plenty of features event organizers love.
You can also distribute information digitally by emailing everyone the documents they need and posting them to your website. Hang signs throughout your event with QR codes your guests can scan to access important pages.
Serve Food on Biodegradable Tableware
If you provide refreshments at your event, the greenest option is to serve them on reusable tableware – glass, ceramic, china, etc.
If your venue doesn’t allow that option, convince them to offer biodegradable tableware that breaks down completely and quickly. This doesn’t include paper plates and cups. Those break down, but they take a while. Instead, use something like these TreeVive plates that are made from naturally fallen leaves and break down in just a couple months.
Minimize Food Waste at Your Green Event
Naturally you don’t want anyone to go hungry at your event. That would create a terrible experience for your guests, which is why many event hosts prefer to over-cater.
Uneaten food dumped in landfills is a major producer of methane, a global greenhouse gas. Plus, throwing away perfectly good food means more food has to be transported into the area for other people.
It’s best to only buy what you need by accurately estimating how many mouths you need to feed. Consider the number of guests who will eat, the times and numbers of breaks you’ll have in the event schedule (more breaks means more eating), and the lengths and types of activities they’ll participate in (longer days means more eating).
You should also try to donate any clean, uneaten food to local causes, such as soup kitchens, homeless shelters, food pantries, or other charities. Consuming everything you take is very green.
Purchase Local Services and Food
You may want to hire that famous DJ or celebrity chef, but in order to host a green event, you must cut down on travel as much as possible.
Hire vendors and buy services from local businesses near your venue. You may have to scout the area well before the event to make sure those businesses meet your standards, but that little travel is far less taxing on the environment than having faraway vendors travel to your venue with all their equipment.
Choose food options with smaller carbon footprints, like chicken, turkey, and vegetable dishes. Avoid foods like beef and lamb that carry high environmental costs. Work with your caterer to keep food miles to a minimum. Instead of giving out bottled water, opt for filtered tap water.
Partner with a Transportation Service
You can reduce the number of people who rent cars or use ride sharing services by organizing your own transportation. Renting a few vans for your team to ferry attendees from the airport or hotels can significantly reduce the amount of carbon emissions that would be produced by renting individual rides. Even chartering a shuttle bus service would be less strain on the environment.
Empower Your Brand with a Green Event
Some event planners believe that hosting a sustainable event is a logistical quagmire, but that isn’t the case. As you can see, it only take a few positive changes to make your event more environmentally friendly. Implement as many of these ideas as you can to support your guests’ and our planet’s health.
By “going green” with your event planning, you can create a positive impact on the local environment and establish your brand as an eco-friendly, socially responsible player.