Sustainability has become a hot topic in recent years, as consumers attempt to reduce their environmental impact. From David Attenborough speaking at a ‘plastic-free’ Glastonbury to discounts for taking your own cup to buy your coffee, the eco-friendly ethos is making its way into our everyday lives.
Events, both large and small can have a significant environmental impact, and event professionals are increasingly looking at ways to make events more sustainable. But where to start? From festivals to exhibitions, we’ve pulled together 10 simple ways that you can start to reduce the environmental impact of your event.
1. Keep Cups
Follow the example of coffee shops and encourage your attendees to bring their own reusable coffee cups and reward their efforts with discounts on their chosen hot drink. Where possible also find a supplier that provides recyclable or compostable cups or encourage your delegates to bring their own.
2. Water Fountains
Encourage attendees to bring their own reusable water bottles too and ensure there are sufficient stations available for them to be refilled throughout the day. This means you can drastically reduce the amount of single use bottled water available at the event.
3. Ditch The Plastic
There are some really easy ways to reduce plastic at events on top of encouraging the use of reusable coffee cups and water bottles.
Look to use paper straws or ditch straws entirely, and look for alternatives for plastic cutlery and packaging.
Plastic badges can be replaced with a recyclable version or perhaps encourage people to network more and don’t use them at all.
A good rule of thumb here is to always question whether you really need something that makes use of single-use plastic and always look for a more sustainable alternative.
4. Offset Emissions
There are some emissions that can’t be reduced or eliminated entirely. In these cases it’s possible to offset emissions in other ways. This means you can compensate for your emissions by funding an equivalent carbon dioxide saving elsewhere, usually via carbon offset projects.
5. Go Digital
Going paperless has never been easier, but it sometimes takes a bit of getting used to for attendees. So, make it really easy by sending their tickets via email or providing a place where they can be easily downloaded. Use an event app that provides maps, essential information and extras that add value, this could be networking opportunities, ways to communicate with your company or opportunities to create their own agenda.
6. Use Local Suppliers
Choosing local caterers or suppliers shortens the distance your food travels and reduces its carbon footprint, and as an added bonus you’ll be supporting the community in which your holding your event. It’s also a great idea to create menus that make the most of seasonal produce. Where possible you could join up with a local organisation to donate any leftover food to reduce waste too.
7. Choose A Venue That Shares Your Vision
Choosing a venue for your event that is equally committed to your environmental efforts is really important. That way you’ll be on the same page from the beginning and be able to carry out your sustainable initiatives without any problems and may even discover other ways to reduce, reuse and recycle that you hadn’t thought of yet. The same applies to suppliers and any other partners you choose for your event.
Each year, the Hire Space Awards recognises some of the Greenest Venues in the UK for their social initiatives and green practices. Check out the shortlist from this year.
8. Recycling Is Cool
Don’t forget the basics. Make sure you recycle or reuse everything you use in the planning and execution of your event, whether it’s vinyl stickers or exhibition stands.
Make it really easy for your attendees to dispose of waste and recycle, perhaps using colour coded signs.
If you can’t find a use for something again, try your best to donate it rather than throwing it away.
9. The Transport Test
The environmental impact of your attendees is something you should think about too. Is the location easily accessible by public transport? Are there incentive schemes in place for those who use it? Do you have a large contingent of international guests? Can you offer hotel rooms nearby? All these questions need to be assessed when choosing your venue.
10. Find Inspiration
There are great examples of events that are finding more sustainable ways to run, these are our favourites:
Glastonbury Festival 2019 - Banned the sale of single-use plastic
Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014 - Set new benchmarks in sustainability
The Croissant Neuf Summer Party - Is run entirely on solar energy
We’d love to hear from you. What small steps have you taken to reduce the environmental impact of your events? Let us know on Twitter @HireSpace