How to organise a sustainable event
Top tips by Selina Donald
An excerpt from the ‘Good Event Guide‘ by GL events UK
Going green doesn’t need to be a headache, especially if you plan ahead. There are a variety of different areas within the event production process that you can improve on, from venues to catering, to waste and overall production. As an organiser, you are responsible for making your events more sustainable so you need to be thinking outside the box and asking the right questions.
How can you minimise the impact of your event? What actions need to be taken to start the process of going green? Before you can improve the event’s efforts towards sustainability, take a look at your event, work out your impact and ask yourself how you can then try to minimise them?
Take your event to the next level and set realistic sustainability goals for the business. Analyse all the different areas within the event process and come up with a plan that shows how you are going to achieve these goals, ensuring you choose the right person to see this through. Remember, going green is a commitment and if you want it to work, it needs to encompass your entire event culture. Consider how you will measure success and how you will communicate it publicly.
Involve your supply chain
Depending on the type of event or service you are running, delegate certain sustainability tasks to your suppliers or contractors. Ensure your stakeholders are thinking about what they can be doing to be sustainable when interacting with your event. How can you get them to help you achieve good sustainability? For example, if you have outsourced a power contractor, ask them to measure how much energy you are using during the event. Introduce formalities into your contracts that specifically asks them to carry out their service conscientiously. Try and encourage sustainability in their business as well!
Start simple, go paperless
This is a simple, yet powerful way to make a large impact. Opt for paperless processes throughout the business. Try to incorporate online registrations and ticketing systems as these are great ways to cut down on the amount of paper you are using. Rather than print out programmes or other information booklets, look at creating an app or set up a webpage. These programmes allow you to communicate details of the event clearly and quickly, as well as being mindful of the environment. Involve your audience in this as well, tell them what you’re doing and why, and ask them for your support.
When planning an event, it is extremely important to ensure your catering is as sustainable as possible. Try to consider seasonal or locally sourced food and make sure that you confirm the number of attendees accurately and adjust food quantities accordingly to reduce food wastage. Events are notorious for wasting food and you need to be thinking about where you can donate it to or what you can do with it afterwards. Try to involve your suppliers in this process. Ask that they deliver all food on-site in bulk to reduce transport costs.
Have you thought about water? Do you offer tap water to drink to save on transportation of bottled water and recycling of bottles? If bottled water is unavoidable, buy water in biodegradable corn-based bottles or, as a last resort, ensure the bottles are recycled.
Venue – transportation and location
Choosing the right venue and location is vital to the sustainability of your event. Taking into account both attendees and staff, there are a lot of ways you can be cutting down your carbon footprint. Try to use venues that have a sustainable or environmental policy of their own because they will be more likely to cooperate with you and your sustainable goals. Gather information regarding the venue’s sustainability policies. For example, their use of energy, their recycling facilities, their water efficiency and their in-house suppliers
This is one of the most important areas in your sustainability efforts. After attendees have left, the site is usually filled with a lot of rubbish which can be damaging to the environment, and cause an uproar with the venue or land-owners. Are you recycling waste after an event? If there is no system in place, can you organise a separate recycling company to pick this up? Are there enough bins dotted around to help encourage people to recycle and to reduce waste?
With the advancements and growth in technology today, there are many ways you can save on power to make a more sustainable event; minimising your footprint. Ask the event production team or your suppliers/contractors how you can be using less energy at your event. This can help the environment and be extremely cost-effective
Ease into it
In reality, jumping on the sustainable event trend is not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take time and strong management. You are trying to affect your event culture after all. Be patient, start small, collect your resources and be sure to ask the right questions to the right people. Just be sure not to lose sight of the event experience itself and the reasons why you created the event in the first place
Make positive change – market your success
Finally, share your sustainable achievements with the world. Let them know the changes you are making to help save the planet. Remember that change starts with you. It only takes one person to make a positive impact, so really embrace it. The decisions we make today will impact the future of the planet and as an industry that can lead this charge, we should make it our responsibility to take care of the world.
To read the full ‘Good Event Guide’, please click here.