We are all aware of the vast amount of waste created and left behind every day. Especially for the events industry, this is a major issue. For some, such as music festivals with 30,000 tickets sold, it might be more and for others -such as our own with only 100 attendees- it might be less and thus the actions taken might differ.
Stella McCartney once said: “Everyone can do simple things to make a difference, and every little bit really does count.” In the end, it does not matter how little your action is but the amount of it that will create the impact. As event organizers, we have the responsibility to include sustainability in our business concept and plan sufficiently ahead so that waste will be minimized.
The benefit here does not only positively affect our planet, but it also helps everyone involved in planning and delivering events to significantly cut costs. This responsibility lays on all parties including organizers, venue owners, corporate sponsors, local authorities, waste contractors, hospitality and catering companies as well as construction firms.
Now, you might be wondering in which areas you can make a change and how. There is no need to fulfil all of them perfectly or at once as long as you remember that small actions count. Here are a few tips for your next event based on the research of Corporateeventnews.com.
1. Venue Selection
The first and most obvious characteristic here is the location of the venue. Attendees’ carbon footprint can be limited when choosing a place to which many will likely take public transport, bike or even walk. Secondly, ask the venue manager about their recycling process. You will be able to figure out their intentions by the clarity of their replies.
Food: Besides plastic, food is one of the most common and impactful sources of waste in the modern world. Instead of ordering too much food “just in case”, make an effort to precisely plan the amount according to attendees. In case there is something left to donate the food to people in need instead of throwing it away. Contact any local authorities responsible for providing food to the poor or homeless and ask the venue managers to make a donation.
Recycling bins are the easiest solution and have become very common at many events. Especially for huge events such as conferences, it can make a significant difference to encourage participants to make conscious decisions about their waste. The recycling process after the event, however, is even more crucial since it requires careful planning and can save quite some money when done efficiently.
4. Event Material
We all know that excessive paper use has a bad impact on the environment and over the years, driven by digitization, paper use has been reduced significantly. However, the event industry still heavily relies on it for marketing materials, run sheets, notepads or brochures. Some tech events have already implemented the use of their own apps which allow the participants to see the program upfront, read about the speakers, learn more about the venue and much more than any traditional paper could ever do. We know that budgets are often very limited but an investment into an app is worth it and the environment will thank you.
The last one is the most essential because it creates by far the biggest and foremost long-term impact. Educate your community, your attendees, employees and everyone else involved in the planning and execution of the event. If only one of them carries away the message and tells someone else about it, you succeeded. In the end, they are the ones who will make a sustainable event possible.
Summing up, there is no need for groundbreaking changes at once. Rather focus on the small, manageable actions that undeniably are going to have a positive effect on the environment. If you are worried that becoming sustainable will cost you more, you are wrong. It is a common misconception. Believe it or not, it can actually save you quite some money. Just consider every ankle starting with the questions where can we reduce, reuse, and recycle. After all, we should always keep in mind what Wendell Berry described in his book in 1971:
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”