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Event Management

Event Sustainability Ideas for 2023

Yashika Tangri
November 21, 2023
12
min read

Making eco-friendly choices is an integral part of business ethics and to be fair businesses have come a long way.

But what about event planning and hosting?

Large events often leave a huge environmental footprint that can go unnoticed.

Join us as we discuss ideas for producing more sustainable events that are beneficial not only to your business image but to our society as a whole.

A. What are Sustainable Events?

Sustainable or green events focus on counteracting or minimizing the environmental impact they have on the planet. These events are planned in a way to consciously reduce the amount of energy, waste, and carbon emissions that an event would generally produce.

Sustainable event ideas generally aim to

  • Be carbon-aware or carbon-neutral
  • Provide fair trade or organic food
  • Have a zero or low-waste policy
  • Use sustainable energy sources to power the event whenever possible
  • Outsource local produce or food

B. Ideas for Event Sustainability

Here are some tips to implement responsible and sustainable initiatives for your event-

i. Plan an effective waste management system

waste management system

An effective waste management system comprises the following key elements-

  • Waste reduction - reducing waste depends on how well you can forecast. To make an estimation, look at historical data if it is available and plan accordingly to keep waste at a minimum.
  • Waste recycling- Arrange recycling bins on-site to separate waste items such as plastic, glass, aluminum, and food that can be recycled. This will help the classification of waste to kick-start the recycling process.
  • Using eco-friendly materials- Use paper and supplies from eco-friendly materials to keep carbon emissions at the lowest possible.

ii. Avoid single-use plastic

say no to plastic

Disposable plastics are not easy to recycle and can come in the way of sustainable waste management. So make sure you have sufficient water stations with reusable cups and replace all plastic products with bamboo-based or other biodegradable products. Reusable cups or other eco-friendly cups are the best alternative to plastics.

Some of the plastic products that you can avoid include-

  • Single-use plastic plates
  • Plastic straws
  • Single-use plastic cutlery including forks, knives, spoons, and chopsticks
  • Plastic balloon sticks
  • Cotton bud sticks made of plastics
  • Oxo-degradable plastics and food containers

iii. Minimize on-site water use

save water

Water management plays a fundamental role in making your event truly sustainable. Here are some ways you can reduce on-site water consumption-

  • Consider the weather, check the temperature range on the day of the scheduled event and plan water accordingly.
  • Select a venue that offers water efficiency measures and designs in one place or find one that recycles water.
  • Hire temporary water stations or select a venue with drinking fountains.
  • Select a venue with water-efficient appliances such as dual flush toilets, low-flow taps and showers, and taps and showers that turn off automatically.
  • Conduct an audit of the event site, check for leaks, and fix if any before the scheduled event.
  • Swap cleaning activities that use water with other methods such as sweeping.
  • Educate and aware the attendees to use water wisely and maintain water quality with conscious product use and waste disposal.
  • Brief your staff about the available facilities and the event’s water-saving initiatives.

iv. Go paperless

replace paper with a digital tool

Paper can be recycled, yes. But it is more environmentally and budget-friendly to avoid using it in the first place. Here are some things to consider if you want to be paper free-

  • Circulate all the relevant information digitally. One way to do this is to create a clear and easy navigation on your website about your event. Put all the important information such as timetables and presentations to keep your attendees informed. 
  • Avoid giving out handouts or notepad paper during the event as most attendees can note any important information on their phones or laptops. Or you can use data-sharing apps like Dropbox, WeTransfer, and SlideShare to pass important information about your event.
  • Inform your attendees about your paper-free initiative by crafting a clear message and encouraging them to do the same. Inform them about how you are going to transfer relevant documents and share information.
  • Reduce the use of posters and signs by swapping them with projectors and monitors. This offers more flexibility in terms of last-minute changes while having a wide scope of reusability.
  • Consider using a digital QR Code for event invitations. This can save the cost of printing tickets and attendees can get their digital tickets validated via QR Codes.

C. Go virtual

host a virtual event

Virtual events are a great option if you want to minimize your carbon footprint. Imagine 

the amount of energy you will be saving with no ground transportation, hotel and accommodation energy, food production, and venue energy.

Having said that, it is important to know that the virtual format isn’t perfect as it still does contribute to emissions. But it will be way less than a physical event. The benefits include-

  • Fewer emissions as attendees don’t have to commute to a specific location minimizing the transportation emissions.
  • Less building space is required as there is no need for venue space, eliminating the environmental impacts that happen on-site.

If you have planned to go virtual, don’t forget to let your attendees know how this change has made a positive impact by comparing your event’s sustainability over last year. This is a great way to celebrate your event’s sustainability and make your attendees aware.

i. Switch to non-toxic biodegradable cleaning products

biodegradable products

Commercial chemical cleaning products pollute the environment with harmful chemicals that can flow into water courses. These chemicals can be absorbed into nature by entering food chains and ultimately harming human health.

It is best to look for environmentally healthier alternatives. Look for products that avoid fossil-fuel-derived ingredients and use enzymes and plant-based ingredients such as certified bio-based cleaning products.

Here is a list of features you should look for while looking for purchasing eco-friendly products-

  • Cleaning ability
  • Product formula – search for eco-friendly, non-toxic, and safe ingredients.
  • Certifications – select EPA Safer Choice-Certified
  • Buyers’ reviews – select the ones with the highest ratings

ii. Focus on noise reduction

manage noise

If you are hosting any event, it is a given that you will use mics, speakers, and other sound equipment. But it is important to manage noise in a way that maintains a high sound quality satisfying event attendees while complying with current sound legislations and health laws.

Here are some ways to do it-

  • Use sound barriers such as walls or fences to reduce noise from the stage by blocking the sound from reaching certain areas.
  • Use directional speakers to focus the sound towards the audience, rather than letting it spread out in all directions.
  • Use noise-absorbing materials such as foam or felt to absorb sound to reduce the overall level of noise at the event.
  • Use sub-woofers that produce low-frequency sounds and place them sparingly in strategic locations.
  • Use a sound system with a limiter that prevents the sound level from exceeding a certain level.
  • Set appropriate decibel limits and ensure that the sound system does not exceed them.

D. Recycle

recycle

Recycling is a classic green initiative that you should focus on while planning your event. Look out for a venue or caterers that have a proper recycling program in place. If they don’t, here is how you can start-

  • Identify your most common waste streams and prepare accordingly. Inform competent authorities and provide them with details about your event. 
  • Educate your team and the attendees on the where, what, and why of recycling. You can start by training your staff and volunteers and giving them insights into effective recycling practices.
  • Inform your attendees about designated recycling areas in advance by sending out newsletters beforehand and giving brief instructions.
  • Print only necessary materials. Instead, you can send out newsletters brochures, and flyers.
  • Mark all containers for recyclables to help people differentiate between items and where to put them. You can use self-explanatory photos with universal symbols to ensure no one has trouble understanding the message.

i. Use sustainable catering

go organic

Sustainable catering refers to environmentally conscious methods of sourcing, preparing, serving, and disposing of food and materials. It is one of the most organic ways to promote sustainability in events.

You can start by

  • Looking for caterers that provide ‘farm-to-table’ options. It means you are supporting local producers while being environmentally conscious. If it is not a feasible option, try to seek out organic produce from certified sources.
  • Finding caterers that have been certified and proven to use sustainable methods. You have to start by researching and meeting a couple of vendors before finalizing your decision.
  • Asking attendees’ dietary requirements in advance. Find out the number of non-veg and vegan participants to arrange the menu accordingly. This will also help you to decide if you want to opt for plated menus instead of buffets.

ii. Donate the leftover food

donate food

We know you are trying your best to be as responsible and accurate as possible. But despite your consistent effort, it can be difficult to get an exact picture of your attendees’ catering needs. This can leave room for leftovers.

So what can you do?

Donate all the leftover edible food to a local food bank or shelter. It is a great initiative to reduce post-consumer food waste as well as provide meals for the needy. You can also check local by-laws around food donation and research reputable food banks and shelters near the event area,

E. Challenges of sustainable event planning

As companies and event planners explore strategies to produce more sustainable events, they face some significant challenges along the way.

What are those?

Let’s have a look-

i. Investment costs

Sustainable event planning requires a major financial investment that can often surpass the initial budget. This is mainly because eco-friendly options such as solar panels and organic food are expensive and not readily available. Additionally, there goes another round of investment in using sustainable packaging and other materials. 

On the bright side, creative event planners can also find cost-effective ways to offset some of these additional requirements. The practices may include reusing signage, sourcing locally grown produce, investing in sustainable lighting options, etc.

ii. Managing attendee experience

One of the most crucial aspects of a successful event is delivering a positive attendee experience.  So focusing on sustainability while making sure attendees are enjoying it to the fullest can be a tricky task. You have to find the common ground between reducing the carbon footprint and managing the attendee experience without compromising the overall experience of the event.

One of the ways to do it is by introducing eco-friendly decorations and offering eco-friendly giveaways like saplings or plant seeds. It can be an excellent way to create sustainable brand awareness while delivering a memorable event experience. 

iii. Miscommunication and lack of coordination

Since sustainability as a concept is not widely practiced in events, it can be a challenge to incorporate it flawlessly. Many businesses have yet to introduce internal regulations or policies surrounding sustainable events, which can lead event organizers and managers to lack awareness and coordination. For example, printing schedules or brochures is an environmentally harmful practice that can go unnoticed.

To tackle this, companies can provide sufficient training to their staff to ensure sustainable practices are upheld as a part of the event planning process and not just a last-moment idea. As an event planner, you must also effectively communicate to stakeholders and attendees about sustainable practices. It will encourage attendees to take conscious eco-friendly measures as they walk together towards a positive change.

iv. Evaluating performance

Businesses face a big challenge when measuring the performance of sustainable events as it can be difficult to quantify the real impact. Areas such as waste management, energy use, and transportation can have a measurable impact on the environment which can be measured by tracking metrics such as the amount of waste generated, water use, energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions.

💡Pro Tip - Using event management software can help minimize some of the challenges. For example, you can access customer data to understand your audience and draw valuable insights about your sustainable event performance. With information such as the event attendance, peak time, no of tickets sold you will be able to monitor your performance and optimize your future events.

Practice event sustainability with Ticket Generator

Going green for your event is a huge and commendable initiative. Let Ticket Generator be your ally to help you carry out all our event sustainability initiatives with ease and comfort.

Ticket Generator is an event ticketing platform that helps you create custom designs for your tickets, eliminating the need for hiring a designer or printing out tickets. You can send the tickets via email, SMS, or both. It is optimized for mobile use and offers QR Code check-ins to promote event sustainability without the use of physical tickets.

Get started now to unlock more amazing features! 

Yashika Tangri

Yashika Tangri is an amazing marketing manager who operates from Trycon Technology's Noida office. Her name signifies success and fame, and she has certainly lived up to these expectations.

At work, Yashika is a highly efficient digital marketing organizer and a source of inspiration to her colleagues with her positive demeanor and professional work ethics. Despite being a lifelong student of science, Yashika decided to pursue a career in marketing in 2018.

After work hours, Yashika enjoys creating new playlists on Spotify, and she is an avid reader who finds solace in escaping reality through the pages of mythology books.