What’s better than a rock-solid, fun, successful event? A rock-solid, fun, successful event that also helps the earth! Event planning with sustainability in mind can feel overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are 10 quick tips for sustainable event management:
Collaboration on events not only makes planning more fun, but it also just makes more sense! Working with another team provides fresh insight into the event’s coordination, and provides clarity about tricky decisions you’re stuck on. If you plan to plan alongside someone else, higher any other vendors, or work with any outside companies to complete the job, why not make sure those partners are equally committed to sustainability practices? Supporting local businesses can be a great draw for community involvement or attendance. They are also more likely to have similar goals about putting on eco-friendly events.
One of the biggest pitfalls when planning any event is ending up with way too much food. Of course, no one wants to run the risk of putting on an event that leaves attendees hungry. While we get the struggle, we also want to be conscious of the end-game. What happens to all of those uneaten goodies? They usually fill up the landfill alongside whatever serving supplies go with them. Make sure you are diligent about curating a guest list and establishing an accurate number of guests early. This will ensure you order an appropriate amount of grub to help reduce food waste. Bonus: Partner with caterers who are able to provide vegetarian and vegan options for your guests!
When event planning with sustainability in mind, it’s important to think about how to reduce the products that you might need from the very beginning. For example, if you plan well enough in advance, you can place one larger order for decor/paper products that can be packaged together as opposed to ordering five small shipments. This will reduce your waste output even before your event begins! Another tip is to be conscious of water and energy usage as you plan your activities and set up for the event. Can you use a carbon-neutral energy supplier or opt to install a small solar panel as a power source instead of using traditional methods? Be considerate of water usage at the event just as you would be in your own home.
One of the easiest sustainable event management practices is to repurpose nature and re-use decor. If you have multiple spaces to decorate for an event that will be used at different times, which decorative items can be moved from the first space to the second fairly seamlessly? Can you re-use lanterns from a walkway as centerpieces for a later dinner? Or can a centerpiece be later used as an attendee gift? This practice not only saves valuable time setting up and tearing down at the event, but it also reduces waste AND saves money!
Commit to only use recyclable paper products at the event, and place recycling containers right beside waste bins for easy accessibility. Communicate to your guests that this event is committing to help, not hurt the environment, and give them the charge that you need their help! Most people are willing to comply with these simple steps when strongly encouraged to do so, and when you’ve taken away all of their logical excuses for why not.
Be mindful of the location you chose for your event. Everything we do will leave an impression on the environment, for better or for worse. If you’re able to host outside, why not?! You’ll reduce your carbon footprint and energy usage, not to mention you can use nature as your backdrop. No need for cheesy or outdated decor that fits within a certain theme. Just access your inner Joanna Gaines and place springs of greenery on your tables. Add a pop of berries or pine cones for color and texture, and enjoy the sights and sounds of the wilderness for your gathering! If weather is a concern, search for venues that implement sustainability practices like water conservation in restrooms. Here are 5 of the most eco-friendly convention centers in the US.
Let’s face it, no one appreciates paper invitations the way they used to. Minimalism is in, and hanging up graduation announcements on the fridge is out. No matter how beautiful or clever your invites might be, they are 100% ending up in the trash can in a matter of weeks. Instead, consider using an online invitation platform such as Evite or Paperless Post, or more robust online event marketing platforms like Cvent, Bizzabo, or RegFox to let guests know about your event and update attendees on important details or changes dropping straight into their email inboxes.
Similarly, instead of printing advertisements or marketing your event by postal mail, utilize social media outlets such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, and word-of-mouth to gain traction for your sustainable event. Social media marketing is cheaper and often easier to get started with than traditional methods, and it’s usually more effective anyway! Going paperless is an all-around win for putting on a green event.
When you choose your location, be mindful of the carbon footprint your attendees will leave simply for being a part of the event. Set up a partnership with nearby hotels within walking distance of your event space for guests to lodge at, or provide bike spaces to encourage alternative forms of transportation. You could even offer shuttle services to reduce limited parking snafus and cut back on CO2 emissions.
At the end of your event, you’ve still got one major factor to consider—trash disposable. One energy-efficient method of cleaning up used by music festivals is composting your waste. You can make plans for repurposing certain set-up materials like wood pallets or glass containers and provide “waste stations” with instructions, at your event. And for food items, consider setting out bulk condiments instead of individual packets to avoid unnecessary litter. Lastly, don’t try to do it all on your own! You can hire experts to help you get creative with clean-up. Companies like Compost Crusader and Pink Elephant Events will walk you through the process of putting on an eco-friendly event, through consulting services. Their onsite personnel help facilitate proper waste disposal, and they can also provide composting stations, recycling receptacles, and more.
Creating and planning a sustainable event may seem daunting at first, but with these tips, you’re off to a great start. Plus, you’ll feel great knowing that you have contributed to helping our planet and supporting these UN Sustainable Development Goals. With a little brainstorming, attention to detail, and some small changes, you can put on the fun, successful, green event you’ve always imagined