27.05.2020

How to host sustainable events

There are loads of things you can do to make your event more environmentally friendly. Most of them are cheap, some of them are free and others will even save you money. It’s a win-win situation. So take a read through our simple ideas and see which ones could enhance your event while you do your bit for the planet.

Food

Serving vegetarian food will reduce your carbon emissions, as will making sure your catering company is sourcing its ingredients locally wherever possible.  Also, talk to your venue about food waste. Do they take any measures to keep it to a minimum and how do they deal with leftover food and drink that needs to be disposed of? Check out the company’s recycling credentials as well and find out if the packaging they use is biodegradable. It might be that lots of the answers you get aren’t the ones you were hoping for, but the more the questions are asked, the more likely venues and caterers are to make more green choices.

Travel

Before booking your venue make sure it has good public transport links. To encourage visitors to think green, give them directions on how to walk to your event from the local stations and stops. If the venue is a little further out of town, put on taxis or mini-buses so your guests can share transport to cut down on your carbon footprint.

Communication

Go digital with all of your communication, from invites and updates to registration and follow-up marketing. This will undoubtedly save you time and money as well as being kinder to the planet. If you do feel the need to send out a paper invitation, consider an invite with a dual purpose – think about something relevant to your event that might make people want to hold onto the invite for longer. If you’re holding a book launch you could make the invite into a bookmark. For a foodie event you could print a recipe on the other side or a weights and measures conversion chart. An event with a foreign theme? Use the reverse of the invite for some simple translations.

Foliage

If you’re decorating your venue, use living plants rather than cut flowers. As well as being more sustainable they can create a great feel of the outdoors. If you do use cut flowers, consider choosing arrangements you can give away to guests at the end of the event.

Promotional gifts

There are lots of sustainable gifts on the market these days. Not just environmentally neutral products, but things that are actually beneficial to the planet. Bulbs or seeds in branded packets are a good choice. You could also take a less direct approach with branded refillable water bottles and coffee cups or cycling paraphernalia.

Lecture notes

Talk to your venue about facilitating a paper-free seminar, lecture or talk. Can the room be set up so your guests can do all of their note-taking on laptops? A little bit of forward planning could enable speakers to email any handouts during the session for attendees to receive, open and read in real time.

Other green tips

  • Save electricity and gas wherever possible – use natural light and serve no-cook food
  • Avoid any products with excess packaging – recycle what you use
  • Provide video conferencing so people travelling from far away could save themselves (and the planet) the long journey
  • Collect and re-use name tag holders
  • Choose finger food to save on cutlery and therefore washing up
  • Find a local charity to which you can donate leftover food or make sure it gets composted
  • Find local green hotels if you have overnight delegates
  • Go local wherever possible when you’re using suppliers
  • Double check RSVPs to avoid over catering

Get your guests involved

Set achievable ‘green goals’ for your event and make sure you share them with your attendees. It will make them feel part of something really positive and when the event is over, you can re-engage with your audience to let everyone know how well it went.