Environmental sustainability, preservation, and stewardship is everyone’s responsibility. As event planners, we have a particularly important role to play when it comes to this topic. Not only when it comes to making decisions about the large amounts of resources utilized at our own events, but realizing that we are sending a message to hundreds or thousands of attendees that being environmentally friendly is a critical issue we should all be thinking about. From food/water consumption and waste to transportation choices and paper use, there are a lot of small tweaks you can make to your event planning which will help save the planet, save you money, and position your event as an environmentally friendly show.
1. Transporation Tips
Reducing pollution by minimizing unnecessary transportation will be a huge first step to take. Transporation accounts for over 25% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States!
- Ensure your event venue is close, or precisely at, the location where the majority of your attendees will be staying
- If transportation is required for any aspect of your event, try to hire large vehicles (like buses) to transport many people at once, or ensure carpooling is an easily accessible option
- If you’re planning side events or parties, try to select venues nearby which don’t require fueled forms of transport and can be accessed by a short walk
- If attendees will be driving to your event, check with the hotel if facilities to charge electric vehicles are available for guests with compatible vehicles (this is more popular than you might think)
2. Food and Beverage Tips
It’s estimated that nearly 40% of the food supply in the United States is wasted. Think about all the resources going into producing all that food (including transportation), the resources required to process the waste, and the countless communities around the world suffering from severe food shortages. Also consider containers for food, the source, and how to handle leftovers.
- Serve locally grown and organic food to minimize the carbon footprint created from the transportation involved in delivering exotic foods to your event and the chemicals used in growing
- Be extra meticulous when it comes to figuring out how much food you need to arrange for so that you don’t end up ordering too much extra food which may go to waste
- In case you do have leftovers, plan for the scenario by quickly researching local food banks or homeless shelters which you can drop off the food at
- Take the phrase “environmentally friendly” to a whole new level and consider running a zero-waste event by ensuring every resource is recyclable, compostable and reusable
3. Digitization and Technology Tips
Here’s where a platform like PheedLoop may be particularly helpful. By using digital technologies like apps, online registration, digital raffles, electronic schedules, etc. you are able to significantly reduce the amount of paper you need to use at your event. Not only is this environmentally friendly, but relying less on physical resources means less clutter and waste hanging around everywhere at your event.
- Invest in mobile event application technology to provide an engaging and interactive experience for attendees, and reduce reliance on paper schedules and event overviews
- Live stream parts or all of your event to provide an option for geographically distant attendees who may find it more comfortable to virtually attend the event instead of forcing the use of flights and vehicles (this may also help you reach a wider audience)
- Issue electronic tickets and receipts to make check-in faster and simpler, while further reducing paper use
4. Education Tips
As we mentioned at the top of this post, being environmentally friendly is everyone’s responsibility – and as organizers of an event, we have a tremendous amount of influence on attendee behavior, even post-event. So, if this is a topic you are passionate about, take the opportunity to not only lead by example by running an environmentally friendly event, but also share your intentions and ideas with your attendees.
Make an effort to solicit their feedback, and let them know that at this event it will be their responsibility as well to make independent environmentally conscious decisions. Share tips through your event app or via an automated email about how to consciously use resources in their hotel room (e.g. shorter showers and shutting off lights), and what you envision the culture to be at the event itself (e.g. reusing glasses, properly disposing of waste in appropriate bins, returning name badge holders, etc.)
Being environmentally friendly and conscious is becoming far more than a choice we make, it’s becoming our moral responsibility. Especially as event planners – we’re basically trendsetters for thousands of people! So, please consider using some of these tips, and share some of your own with us too. Don’t forget, every little bit counts!