Events, conferences, and meetings can have a significant impact on the environment, from travel emissions to waste and food production.
Eco-friendly events are certainly on people's minds, and if sustainability is important to your company, making your events green can help contribute to your sustainability efforts.
By taking steps to reduce the carbon footprint of your event, you can make a positive impact on the environment, while also creating a more responsible and sustainable image for your brand.
In this article, we will explore some ways to reduce your carbon footprint at events.
Reduce Travel Emissions
Travel is one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions, and events are no different.
Consider ways to cut down on flight times, travel times to and from the airport, and other travel-related emissions.
One way to do this is to hold smaller events that are more local for attendees. You could also consider incorporating virtual aspects into your event to reduce the need for as many people to travel. If you are local, encourage carpooling or the use of public transit.
The materials used at events, such as agendas, name badges, and other printed materials, can have a significant impact on the environment.
Consider reducing the materials you use at your event or using more sustainable materials. Opt for digital agendas, in-app notifications, and digital signage.
Encourage attendees to reuse any materials that they receive, and recycle any materials that can't be reused.
Waste is a significant issue at events, and reducing waste can have a significant impact on the environment.
Encourage attendees to recycle by making recycling easy to find and follow through with. Place recycle bins throughout the food halls, meeting spaces, and hallways.
You can also reduce food waste by finding options to donate leftover food, where possible. Work with your venue to find these donation opportunities or even composting options.
Additionally, consider providing water stations and reusable water bottles to reduce the use of single-use plastic water bottles.
Giveaways can also have a significant impact on the environment, from packaging to shipping to the items themselves. Consider whether everyone needs a bunch of items they likely won't use. Does everyone really need that tube of chapstick or the pen?
One way to reduce this is to have people select their giveaway options during registration. That way you can save money and materials by only getting giveaways for people that want them. You can also add an option here for people to skip their giveaway and instead donate to a sustainability organization.
You can also consider locally-sourced items in low-waste packaging or virtual gifts like gift cards. Items that can be recycled or have already been upcycled are great options as well.
Select Sustainable Food
Food production and transportation can have a significant impact on the environment, so it's important to think about sustainable food options.
Choose locally-sourced food, perhaps even vegan or vegetarian options. This also helps support local farmers and vendors, which is a bonus.
Give Back to the Environment
Organize activities that give back to the environment, such as a volunteer event at a local garden or a beach cleanup. This can not only reduce your event's carbon footprint but also create a positive impact on the environment and your local community.
Some additional ideas include:
- Host a workshop on sustainability practices
Plant trees in a public park
Volunteer at an urban farm that grows food for local communities
- Help sort and process recyclable materials at a local recycling center
Partner with Sustainable Hotels and Venues
Partner with hotels and venues that place sustainability at the forefront.
Some examples include solar panel installation, reusable materials, water reduction, farm-to-table food, low-energy lighting, and other eco-friendly practices.
Make sure to ask the hotel partner this when sourcing options. Even if they don't advertise this on their website, they may have green practices in place, or may be willing to work with you to implement practices during your event.
Partner with Sustainable Vendors and Sponsors
Partner with vendors and sponsors that prioritize sustainability practices. This can include using eco-friendly materials, reducing waste, and minimizing their carbon footprint.
You can also consider looking at local vendors for things like A/V, as they won't be transporting their equipment as far.
Offset Your Carbon Emissions
Even if you take all the necessary steps to reduce your carbon footprint, it's nearly impossible to have a completely carbon-neutral event. With this in mind, you can opt to offset the carbon emissions you can't eliminate.
Carbon offsetting means investing in projects that reduce or remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere to balance out the emissions you produce. For example, you can support renewable energy projects, reforestation initiatives, or energy efficiency projects.
We want to emphasize that this is a big goal and not something that can easily be achieved in most events. If you're able to accomplish it, great. But we encourage you to focus on the other steps above to make a more concrete difference at your events.
Make it Fun
Make sustainability fun and rewarding for attendees by incorporating it into team-building activities or content.
Consider giving attendees points for practicing sustainability throughout the event. By getting attendees involved, you can make it easier to stick to your sustainability goals and create a more engaging and memorable event.