🚀 The Event Playbook: Proven strategies to level up your next event!

🚀 The Event Playbook:
Proven strategies to level up your next event!

Sustainability of events.

Promoting Environmental Sustainability at Events: 24 Ideas

From responsibly sourced bamboo plates to rideshares that reduce emissions, even small changes made by event planners and guests can build toward a more eco-friendly gathering and catalyze progress toward global ecological balance.

Planning events like conferences and weddings takes a lot of stuff.

Decorations, food, furniture, and more all use up natural resources and create trash.

But by making smart choices, event planners can reduce their environmental impact, protect nature and fight climate change.

These days, many event attendees want sustainability. Research shows 46% believe it is important to have “green” practices.

Planning sustainable events looks good for a company’s image too.

Beyond that, it is simply the responsible thing to do for the planet.

This article explains easy ways for event planners to go green.

We will explore eco-friendly materials to use, offer sustainable food ideas, promote greener transportation, and more.

Little changes can make events much more sustainable while still letting everyone have fun.

We provide 24 excellent ideas for green events. They cover how to:

  • Choose reusable or recyclable supplies
  • Cut back on waste and food leftovers
  • Support local communities
  • Make travel more eco-friendly
  • Engage attendees in sustainability

There are even more options out there too.

Additional tricks address managing carbon emissions, working with green vendors, getting sustainability certifications, and other innovative stuff.

Sustainability might take extra effort, but brings lasting rewards.

Read on to start planning your next gathering with sustainability in mind from the ground up!

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Promoting Environmental Sustainability at Events

As an experienced event planner, you know that sustainability has become critically important for events of all types and sizes in order to minimize environmental impact.

Implementing green practices not only benefits the planet, but also enhances reputation, drives innovation, and improves the attendee experience.

Why Sustainability Matters for Your Events

Sustainability has grown from an emerging concept to an urgent priority across industries worldwide.

The events you plan bring large groups of people together, requiring coordination of transportation, food, materials, energy use and waste management.

Without proactive measures, meetings and conferences can have sizable environmental footprints, leading to deforestation, increased waste and carbon emissions.

By taking a sustainable approach you demonstrate social responsibility and environmental commitment to customers and partners.

Plus, sustainable sourcing and efficiency measures can translate to long-term cost savings allowing you to invest more resources into the attendee experience.

But even more importantly, we have a collective responsibility to address intensifying issues like climate change and resource scarcity through smarter energy usage, materials selection and travel choices.

As a leader in the events industry, you are perfectly positioned to drive this necessary change.

The great news is that even small changes can add up to make events drastically greener while enhancing experiences for attendees.

Your guests will notice and appreciate efforts like clearly labeled recycling stations, compostable bamboo cutlery, and educational signs explaining sustainability initiatives.

Plus, unique partnerships like carbon offsetting programs can turn events into forces for good by funding renewable energy or reforestation projects.
Sustainable event planning is crucial for reducing environmental impact through innovative operations and attendee engagement.Let’s explore our top 24 proven ideas that leading event pros recommend for making events decidedly greener.

Choosing Sustainable Materials and Decor

Events require vast amounts of signage, furniture, exhibits and other materials that can burden landfills. 

Sourcing sustainable decor and supplies diverts waste while supporting environmentally responsible products and vendors.

  1. Select reusable, recyclable or compostable event materials whenever possible. Choose tablecloths made from recycled plastic bottles, compostable cups made from plants, and banners printed on recycled polyester. If some disposable goods are essential, ensure they can be recycled or composted.
  2. Rent furniture and equipment instead of buying. Rent chairs, tents, AV equipment and more to prevent unnecessary purchases. Seek rental partners focused on sustainability. Ask about their environmental policies.
  3. Print minimally and use eco-friendly soy or vegetable-based inks. Minimize printed signs/agendas, use both sides of paper when possible and choose low-VOC inks made from plants, not chemicals.
  4. Incorporate green spaces and recycled materials for decor. Potted native plants and trees absorb emissions while enhancing event spaces. Repurposed items like vintage signs double as unique decor and conversation pieces.
  5. Purchase verified carbon offsets for unavoidable materials. Work with sustainability partners specializing in carbon offsetting. Your funds support environmental projects reducing emissions like renewable energy farms.

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Offering Sustainable Food and Beverage

Providing catering for big groups puts strain on global food systems and generates excess waste. 

Prioritizing plant-based menus, reducing leftovers, and sourcing locally are impactful best practices.

  1. Spotlight appetizing vegetarian and vegan catering choices. Provide diverse meatless menus supporting sustainable agriculture and reducing carbon emissions from livestock. Offer nutritional plant-based dishes attendees will love.
  2. Implement food waste diversion programs. Donate high-quality leftovers to food banks through partnerships. Establish designated share tables for unfinished meals. Arrange compost bins next to trash receptacles to capture food scraps, paper goods and compostable serviceware for nutrient-rich soil creation.
  3. Use reusable serviceware instead of disposables. Rent real dishes, glasses, silverware and linens instead of wasting compostables and recyclables. Reusables seem like more work but washing them is actually greener long-term.
  4. Showcase seasonal, locally sourced, organic ingredients from area farmers whenever possible. Serving local food supports communities, reduces transport emissions and retains nutrients. Organic options grown without pesticides are chemically gentler on local environments.
  5. Provide delicious plant-based milk options like oat milk. Accommodate attendee preferences while shrinking dairy’s environmental hoofprint by offering non-cow milk alternatives.
  6. Limit plastic bottled water by installing water refill stations. Branded reusable water bottles keep plastic waste out of oceans and landfills. Attendees appreciate the gesture and take eco-friendly souvenirs home.

Promoting Sustainable Transportation

With travel contributing greatly to event emissions, facilitating green transportation alternatives demonstrates admirable environmental dedication.

  1. Highlight green commute options prominently. Encourage carpools by connecting attendees through apps. Provide discounts on public transport passes. Reward walkers and bikers with small giveaways.
  2. Install electric vehicle charging stations. Accommodate cleaner cars and raise awareness of growing options. EV drivers will appreciate the ability to charge.
  3. Purchase verified carbon offsets for air travel related to events. For destination conferences, invest in respected carbon offset programs using funds to support emissions-reduction projects like tree planting.
  4. Consider virtual or hybrid event formats. Blend virtual attendance and content with smaller in-person gatherings to reduce travel, venue and material needs when possible. The options keep improving.

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Engaging Attendees in Sustainability

Getting attendees invested in shared sustainability initiatives enhances experiences and effects. 

Foster their participation through incentives, pledges and transparent communication.

  1. Share sustainability efforts prominently through event branding. Ensure website FAQs, programs, signage and announcements provide visibility into green measures so guests understand the practices behind the scenes.
  2. Gamify sustainability engagement. Offer fun prize drawings like stays at eco resorts for participation in waste diversion programs, carbon offset donations and other initiatives tied to measurable impact.
  3. Invite pledges towards sustainable behavior change. Encourage attendees to formally commit to meatless meals, mass transit and other environmentally-conscious choices they can carry home.
  4. Survey attendees afterwards on sustainability. Gather event feedback on environmental efforts and potential improvements for an even greener future.
  5. Spotlight event sustainability metrics. Share measurable positive impacts from pounds of waste diverted, emissions avoided, trees planted and dollars donated to amplify education and motivation.

Sustainable Sponsorships and Vendors

Sponsors and vendors significantly influence an event’s cumulative environmental impact. 

Strategically partnering with like-minded eco-conscious contributors compounds positive progress.

  1. Lead Requests for Proposals (RFPs) with sustainability questions. Ask prospective partners about their environmental policies, practices and green certifications to gauge consciousness.
  2. Work with vendors offering comprehensive green options. Source caterers providing local plant-based fare, transportation companies with EV fleets, renewable energy powered AV providers and other vendors with reduced emission services.
  3. Let sponsors showcase their own sustainability contributions. Offer brand visibility for carbon offset investments, renewable energy generation, waste reduction technology R&D and other efforts improving environmental operations.
  4. Encourage sustainable sponsor giveaways when possible. Replace excessive imported logo-laden swag with useful branded gifts ethically manufactured from organically grown materials that can be reused or recycled.

Today’s affluent purpose-driven attendees desire authentic connections with brands matching their values.

Communicating carefully developed sustainability credentials spotlights hard work while nurturing profoundly fruitful relationships with shared priorities.

Additional Green Considerations

Beyond the main event itself, integrating sustainability principles into all supporting operations – from travel planning to promotions – creates holistic impact.

For comprehensive environmental responsibility across the full event life cycle, also consider:

Offer Sustainable Travel Incentives

Many conferences today incentivize booking through designated sustainable hotels utilizing renewable energy and active conservation efforts.

Perks like automatic carbon offset donations, discounted transit passes and sponsored green airport taxi shuttles ease eco-friendly ground transportation choices.

Prioritize Responsible Merchandise

Apparel represents a significant branding investment and embodied emissions from production.

Leading organizations follow guidance from the Sustainable Apparel Coalition‘s life cycle assessments.

Seek local goods from certified ethical manufacturers using natural fiber blends and non-toxic dyes in limited runs minimizing waste.

Develop Renewable Campaigns

Email and web promotions require energy.

To curb digital climate effects, research groups like The Environmental Paper Network advocate renewable energy usage, efficient design, responsible data centers and list management avoiding spam.

Balancing efforts by purchasing platform carbon offsets also helps.

Explore Local Community Partnerships

Service work, fundraising and engaging complementary non-profits turns events into community assets while distributing environmental dividends.

Many gatherings offer discounted admission or easy volunteering enabling rich local connections. 

Identify shared needs around hunger, conservation education or inclusion tailoring a meaningful win-win opportunity.

Sustainability requires perseverant systems thinking balanced against convenience and cost.

As respected leaders, event pros demonstrate this daily by tapping local foods, offsetting travel miles, diverting event waste streams and aligning with partners actualizing ecological innovation.

By treating sustainability as essential to all programming, meetings and conferences continue building momentum toward the fertile future ahead.

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Next Steps in Event Sustainability

So far, our focus has been on current best practices for green events.

Now, let’s spotlight some of the newer, more innovative developments coming out from environmentally responsible event planning, which continues to evolve as an exciting field with much potential still left to explore in terms of sustainability.

Eco-Friendly Materials and Decor

As waste reduction stands paramount, advances in technology and material science have unlocked a growing array of reusable, compostable or sustainably sourced options for event elements like furniture, linens, signage and gifts.

Environmentally responsible corporations are actively diverting materials from landfills while opting for recycled, rapidly renewable or carbon emission-offset selections for their events.

Sustainable Catering and Food Systems

Plant-based cuisine continues surging in popularity for taste, health and ecological reasons. 

More attuned venues have minimized meat while spotlighting creative, appetizing vegan menus.

Likewise, tackling food loss and waste remains a priority through donations, onsite compost programs and attendee education.
Increased consumer awareness around issues like sustainable food systems and transparent sourcing gives event planners more leverage to request responsible catering from vendors.As innovation enables more urban vertical farming and advanced regional distribution methods to flourish, the miles from farm to event shrink, reducing environmental impact.

Transportation and Accessibility

Previously, location and regional travel considerations drove site selection.

Today, balancing transportation impact – from remote virtual attendance options to purchasing meaningful carbon emission offsets – reflects event planners’ expanding scope of environmental and social responsibility.

Electric vehicle adoption expects to rise exponentially in coming years.

Proactive venues already install charging stations while travel programs integrate electric shuttle fleets and virtual attendance alternatives to put sustainability first.

On-site renewable energy generation could even fully power events in the near future.

People and Community

Economic accessibility also weaves into future sustainability considerations, with diversity, equity and inclusion shaping the ethical, responsible vision of future events.

Budget-friendly ticketing, wide-spread hybrid event options and sustaining impactful partnerships with local community organizations receive due attention from conscientious planners.

Truly responsible events create shared experiences while treading lightly on the earth.

Only by engaging each event choice through a sustainability lens can gatherings build toward cleaner, greener tomorrows for all.

Measuring Impact

Defining tangible event sustainability metrics provides clear goals to monitor continuous improvement. 

From emissions avoidance to waste diversion, data elucidates effectiveness while identifying priority areas for further innovation.

Hire waste auditing professionals or use online tools for calculating key benchmarks like:

  • Landfill diversion rate: Percentage of event waste kept from landfills through recycling, donations, etc based on total tonnage
  • Carbon footprint: Emissions generated from venue energy, food production, guest travel and all key aspects
  • Water usage: Gallons used onsite for cleaning, cooking, etc to conserve
  • Energy efficiency: Kilowatt hours consumed on lighting, sound, HVAC and fuel

Publicly sharing audit findings and reports adds credibility while keeping team priorities focused. 

Over time, metrics clearly showcase progress to help events reach aspirational sustainability certifications.

Establishing Green Event Certifications

Myriad rigorous event sustainability certifications verify adherence to strict environmental and social responsibility standards around materials, labor policies and community relationships beyond mere vendor claims.

Leading globally recognized examples include:

  • ISO 20121: Internationally standardized for sustainable event management systems with holistic metrics.
  • APEX/ASTM: Convention industry developed standards assessing environmental stewardship, social responsibility and quality management.
  • BS 8901: British specifications for sustainably managing events mirroring ISO 20121.
  • Positive Impact Rating: B Corp endorsed framework awarding points for community partnerships, inclusivity, waste diversion and other regenerative event practices.

While requiring dedicated coordination, formally registering events with these rigorously vetted certifications signals genuine, audited commitment from planners and partners invested in driving sustainability forward.

Sustainability forms the strong foundation for successful modern events.

From responsibly sourcing event materials to aligning with like-minded vendor partners, the collective efforts of planners, communities and attendees catalyze the shift toward ecological balance for future generations.

Lead the Future of Events

Event sustainability requires a comprehensive approach across key elements like food, materials, transportation and messaging.

While introducing green practices may take upfront time and effort, the long-term benefits for brand image, cost savings and environmental impact make worthwhile investments.

The ideas presented capture current best practices within reach for planners of all types and sizes of events.

As sustainability evolves from a “nice-to-have” to essential expectation across industries, continuing education and innovation will be key.

We & Goliath stays ahead of the curve on event and meeting technology as well as logistics and promotion, including emerging techniques for virtual hybrid events with built-in sustainability.

Our experts integrate green considerations into every element of uniquely crafted experiences for clients worldwide.

Ready to make your next event a shining example of sustainability? 

Let’s talk about the natural, eco-friendly and creative possibilities.

We & Goliath

We & Goliath is an award-winning, top 100 worldwide event agency known for increasing conference attendance by 7X and profits by 3X through beautifully designed virtual, hybrid, and in-person events. Since 1999, their team of innovative strategists and creative designers has worked with global enterprises, SMBs, non-profits, and other organizations to engage audiences and exceed expectations.

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