The Corporate Event Planner’s Roadmap to Sustainable Event Planning

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The Corporate Event Planner’s Roadmap to Sustainable Event Planning

Embracing green practices isn’t just a trend. Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a commitment the events industry must uphold. Planning eco-friendly events can seem daunting, but these 24 practical ideas will show you how manageable and impactful it can be. The first step towards meaningful change is being aware of your carbon footprint.

By implementing these tips, you’ll be ready to host events that set a new standard for environmental consciousness!

Sustainability is now a pivotal focus in event planning. However, shifting from traditional methods to greener practices can be challenging, especially when persuading sponsors and attendees that eco-friendly choices are beneficial for business. It’s crucial to shift your mindset from merely “sustaining” to “regenerating.”

What’s the difference? While sustainability focuses on maintaining, regeneration emphasises growth, renewal, and restoration. This holistic approach should be your guiding principle in planning environmentally responsible events.

Now, let’s explore 24 actionable strategies to make your events greener and reduce your environmental impact:

1. Opt for Virtual Events

We understand that after extensive screen time during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people prefer in-person interactions. However, virtual events remain the most sustainable option as they significantly reduce carbon emissions associated with travel. Research from the International Journal of Environmental Studies shows that an international virtual conference generates far fewer emissions compared to an in-person event, primarily due to the elimination of travel-related emissions. Although virtual events still have some environmental impact, such as emissions from network data transfer and computer usage, they are considerably lower than those of physical events.

While balancing attendee preferences, consider incorporating virtual elements where possible to maintain sustainability.

We’re changing the world with technology.” – Bill Gates, the Co-Founder of the Software Giant, Microsoft

2. Embrace Hybrid Events

If a fully virtual event isn’t feasible, consider a hybrid model. Hybrid events, where part of the audience attends virtually, naturally reduce carbon emissions by minimising travel and accommodation needs. Research from the University of Cambridge highlights that hybrid conferences can cut emissions by nearly 90% if participants from distant locations join online and those nearby use land transportation.

Track and compare your event’s carbon footprint over time to measure improvements in carbon efficiency.

3. Aim for Zero-Waste

Plan a zero-waste event by conducting a waste audit and developing a strategy to minimise waste. Provide ample recycling and composting bins and educate attendees on waste reduction practices.

4. Serve Sustainable Food and Drinks

Choose caterers who provide locally sourced, seasonal, and organic foods. Offer plant-based meal options and ensure leftovers are donated. Avoid single-use plastics by providing water stations and encouraging reusable bottles.

5. Choose Eco-Friendly Venues

Select venues that prioritise sustainability and have certifications such as Green Star from the Green Building Council of Australia, NABERS, or EarthCheck. If certified venues aren’t available, look for those that use renewable energy, maximise natural lighting, and implement energy-efficient practices.

6. Partner with Sustainable Vendors

Utilise databases like the Sustainable Event Alliance’s directory, which lists vetted sustainable event vendors in Australia. If you find additional eco-friendly suppliers, contribute to this open-source resource to support the event planning community.

7. Select Accessible Locations

Choosing a venue easily reachable by public transport or short travel distances helps minimise attendee travel emissions. Consider providing eco-friendly shuttle services and clearly communicate pickup locations to reduce the need for individual vehicle use.

8. Encourage Public Transport and Carpooling

Promote the use of public transportation by providing detailed information and maps to your attendees. If public transport isn’t an option, incentivise carpooling with benefits like discounted or premium parking.

9. Use Travel Surveys

Send pre-event surveys to gauge attendee travel distances and post-event surveys to understand their transportation methods. This data helps evaluate venue accessibility and the effectiveness of your sustainability messaging.

10. Prioritise LED Lighting

Ensure your venue uses LED lighting to save energy. Encourage venues to switch to LED bulbs if they haven’t already, highlighting benefits like long lifespan, recyclability, and energy efficiency.

11. Implement Recycling Programs

Confirm that your venue and caterers have effective recycling programs. If not, discuss your recycling needs and potential additional costs. Partner with sponsors to support recycling initiatives.

12. Promote Composting

Ask about composting practices at your venue. If composting isn’t available, offer resources to help start a program. Collaborate with sponsors to cover any additional costs.

13. Use Digital Materials

Reduce paper waste by distributing event information digitally through apps, websites, or emails. If printing is necessary, use recycled paper and soy-based inks.

14. Offer Sustainable Swag

Replace traditional swag with sustainable options like reusable bags and water bottles. Consider digital swag, such as discount codes or online resources. Let attendees choose from sustainable options to ensure they receive items they’ll use.

15. Use Energy-Efficient Equipment

Select energy-efficient electronics and rechargeable batteries for your event. Ensure equipment is powered down when not in use and utilise energy-saving settings.

16. Offset Carbon Emissions

Purchase carbon offsets to mitigate unavoidable emissions. Support reputable organisations like Greenfleet in Australia, which funds reforestation and renewable energy projects.

17. Recommend Eco-Friendly Accommodations

Encourage attendees to stay at eco-friendly hotels with sustainability certifications. Provide a list of recommended accommodations and promote shared lodging to reduce the carbon footprint.

18. Communicate Sustainability Efforts

Be transparent about your sustainability initiatives. Share your efforts with attendees, sponsors, and partners through your event website, social media, and emails to raise awareness and inspire others.

19. Promote Green Transportation

Encourage the use of public transport, cycling, or walking. Offer shuttle services with electric or hybrid vehicles for larger events to reduce individual car trips.

20. Sell Sustainable Merchandise

Choose eco-friendly merchandise made from recycled or organic materials. Offer pre-order options to reduce waste and consider donating a portion of proceeds to environmental causes.

21. Implement Green Production Practices

Work with your production team to reduce the environmental impact. Use energy-efficient lighting and sound equipment and minimise waste during event setup and breakdown.

22. Collaborate with Sustainability Experts

Partner with organisations like the Sustainable Event Alliance in Australia for guidance on reducing your event’s carbon footprint. They offer valuable resources and support for green event planning.

23. Measure and Report Impact

Track your event’s environmental impact using tools to measure carbon footprint and waste production. Share these findings with stakeholders to demonstrate your commitment to sustainability.

24. Commit to Continual Improvement

Sustainability is an ongoing effort. Continuously seek ways to enhance your event’s green practices and set new goals for each event. Stay updated on sustainability trends and be open to feedback.

By adopting these 24 strategies, you can significantly reduce your event’s carbon footprint and set a positive example for the industry. Remember, every step towards sustainability makes a difference, and together, we can create a greener future.

A Strategic Approach with MB Squared

Incorporating these sustainable practices requires a strategic and highly creative approach, something that MB Squared excels at. Specialising in creative event design, event management, production, technology solutions, and sensory activation strategies, MB Squared is your partner in crafting events that are not just impressive, but also inherently sustainable. 

Whether it’s a corporate meeting, a large-scale conference, or any significant gathering, MB Squared stands ready to ensure your event achieves its environmental and business goals seamlessly. Get in touch with MB Squared to learn more about making your next event sustainably spectacular.

FAQs

What is the difference between a sustainable and a regenerative event?
A sustainable event focuses on maintaining current environmental standards and minimising negative impacts. In contrast, a regenerative event aims for growth, renewal, and restoration, actively contributing to the improvement of the environment.

How can I encourage attendees to participate in sustainable practices?
Educate attendees on the importance of sustainability through pre-event communications and event signage. Provide incentives for using public transport or carpooling, and highlight the benefits of eco-friendly choices during the event.

What are some easy first steps to make my event more sustainable?
Start by choosing a green venue, sourcing local and sustainable catering, and minimising waste with digital tickets and recycling programs. Incorporate eco-friendly materials and promote public transport or carpooling options for attendees.

How can I measure the carbon footprint of my event?
Use online carbon calculators to estimate emissions from travel, energy use, and waste. You can also partner with organisations that specialise in measuring and offsetting carbon footprints, such as Carbon Neutral or other local environmental groups.

Are there any certifications or recognitions for hosting a sustainable event?
Yes, look for certifications from organisations such as the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) for venues, and consider working with local sustainability programs that recognise and support eco-friendly events.

How can virtual or hybrid events help reduce environmental impact?
Virtual events eliminate the need for travel, significantly reducing carbon emissions. Hybrid events combine in-person and virtual elements, allowing you to reduce the number of attendees on-site while still reaching a broad audience, thus minimising overall environmental impact.

What are some examples of eco-friendly materials I can use for my event?
Consider using recycled paper for printed materials, biodegradable badges, and eco-friendly swag like reusable water bottles or tote bags made from organic cotton. Avoid single-use plastics and opt for materials that can be reused or recycled.

How can I manage food waste at my event?
Plan carefully to avoid over-ordering, work with caterers who use sustainable practices, and arrange for leftover food to be donated to local charities. Additionally, provide composting stations for food scraps and encourage attendees to use them.

Can sustainable practices increase the cost of my event?
While some sustainable options might have higher upfront costs, they can lead to long-term savings and benefits. For example, reducing waste can lower disposal costs, and using digital materials can save on printing expenses. Additionally, many attendees and sponsors value sustainability and may be willing to support your efforts financially.

How can I communicate my event’s sustainability efforts to attendees?
Clearly outline your sustainability initiatives on your event website and in promotional materials. Use signage at the event to highlight eco-friendly practices and provide information on how attendees can contribute. Share your achievements post-event through reports or social media to showcase your commitment to sustainability.

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