Event Planning and Marketing
How to Plan Sustainable Events and Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
12 Jan 2024 | Heather Pryor | 3 minutes
“How do you quantify the environmental impact of your events?” If you haven’t been asked this question yet, odds are you will be soon. In recent years, interest in sustainable events has significantly increased. In addition to sourcing an impressive venue, signing on a full list of sponsors, crafting ideal attendee experiences, and everything else associated with a successful event, the organization must also seek to make their events environmentally friendly and be able to report on each event’s carbon footprint.
There’s no single blueprint for sustainable events. But by choosing responsible partners, reducing waste, sourcing sustainable materials, and enabling your attendees to do the same, you can make a difference.
Choosing Responsible Partners
The first step to planning a sustainable event is understanding your current event impact. Selecting an event management platform that offers sustainability tracking and reporting will help you measure everything from flights to meals and other carbon emissions. Knowing this information can help you determine ways you can offset your carbon footprint.
When going through the RFP process, carefully consider how a platform’s data is processed and stored to determine whether it aligns with your goals for sustainability. Some platforms are hosted in on-premise data centers that consume a lot of energy while others are hosted on a cloud.
Reducing Waste and Carbon Emissions
Reducing waste and carbon emissions can boost event sustainability. First, consider your delivery format. Do all of your events need to be in person? Are there some that can be offered virtually or as a hybrid event?
For in-person events, look for venues that use renewable energy, and/or include energy-efficient lighting and other features that reduce energy consumption. Offering digital handouts instead of print versions can reduce paper usage. Encourage carpooling and the use of public ground transportation.
Event food and drink offers additional possibilities for reducing impact. Look for caterers that incorporate seasonal produce and local ingredients, and plan where leftover food may be donated after the event. Include refill stations for reusable water bottles rather than providing attendees with disposable water bottles.
Sourcing Sustainable Materials
When sourcing sustainable materials for an event, consider using recyclable or biodegradable tableware and plates. These options are made from renewable resources such as bamboo or corn starch that can be more easily broken down and discarded than traditional plastic materials.
Similarly, recycled or reusable bags rather than plastic gift bags help reduce the amount of waste generated. These items can be reused by attendees after the event. Event badges can be a major contributor to plastic usage, so source badges made from recycled paper or plastic.
Finally, consider using digital signage to reduce paper waste and save on printing costs. This will save you money on printing costs. All of these steps reduce the event’s environmental impact and communicate a positive message to attendees.
Enabling Attendees to Reduce and Reuse Resources
Finally, helping attendees fulfill their social responsibility can include small steps such as supplying recycling bins at the event, or as involved as planning environmental service projects, such as tree planting or beach cleanup, before or after the event. Many event planners are now also offering carbon offset packages to attendees to compensate for the carbon emissions generated by their travel to and from the event.
Sustainable event planning is not only the responsible thing to do, but it can also have a positive impact on your attendees and the environment. With an event management platform that helps you track and report on your carbon emissions, you can easily make your event more sustainable. To track your progress, RainFocus has created an environmental impact dashboard to help event planners meet this social responsibility. Learn more about this dashboard here.