Whether you’re passionate about the environment or your attendees are asking you to up your eco credentials, knowing how to plan a sustainable event can be an important skill nowadays. With so many things to think about when you organize an event and so many demands on your budget, it might seem like planning a green event is a further complication. However, with a little thought and consideration, you can easily understand — and minimize – the impact of your event on the environment. Here are nine simple steps you can take to make your events more sustainable, and examples of creators who are already putting these steps into action.

What is sustainable event management?

The importance of sustainability in events has become a pressing issue in recent years, and this trend will only continue. To put it simply, sustainable event management is the process of making individual choices that reduce the environmental impact of your event. As a creator, it’s your responsibility to do what you can to lower the carbon footprint of your event as much as possible. Making your event sustainable starts at the planning stage and impacts all of your decisions, including the contractors, sponsors, and suppliers you work with.

How do you organize a sustainable event?

1. Save trees, send digital invitations

Given the impact deforestation has on climate change, you might want to avoid paper prompts. Rather than sending out invites and info packs, cut down on waste (and postage costs) by using Eventbrite to promote and manage your event. You can create an event page that features full joining instructions for your attendees and send email invitations from your Eventbrite account. With a suite of customization tools, your digital invitation can look just as appealing as a paper one, and it’s possible to contact up to 2,000 attendees per day. Plus, you can view who’s opened your email invitation or subscribed from your mailing list so you can make data-driven decisions.

2. Upcycle and recycle

When choosing materials for your event, try to incorporate recycled and upcycled elements where possible. Single-use items can produce a vast amount of waste and be very damaging to the planet. Instead, do what you can to source things that can be given a new life. Strategies could include asking attendees to return their lanyards or badge covers after an event so they can be used again, or using whiteboards or chalkboards instead of print signs that are more difficult to reuse.

Of course, there will be some materials that can’t be used again. In that matter, recycle suitable materials, like plastic, cardboard, and paper. Encourage your attendees to recycle at your event, too, by making it clear where the recycling stations are and what each bin is for.

3. Create a green catering plan

Food is a major driver of climate change, so making planet-friendly catering choices is key to green event planning. Reducing the amount of meat you serve and having more plant-based options can help to make your event sustainable. Over-catering is also a common practice at many events, resulting in unnecessary waste. Meegan Jones, author of Sustainable Event Management: A Practical Guide, says‘ ‘Food into landfill is a major cause of landfill methane emissions, a global greenhouse gas emissions contributor. Food waste at events also contributes to startling global food waste statistics, estimated at 1/3 of all food produced being lost or wasted.’

To cut down on food waste, Jones recommends accurately estimating the amount of food required for the number of attendees, the event type and timing of activities or breaks, and asking about dietary requirements in advance (which you can do on Eventbrite by creating an RSVP website with specific fields). You should also ensure any unused perishable food has been handled correctly so that you can after donate it to food salvage programs.

4. Keep it local

When it comes to sourcing what you need for your event, try to do so as locally as possible to cut down on transportation. This also has the added bonus of supporting your local community. When it comes to food, think about what’s in season and what’s easily available — it’s not green to ship in strawberries from South America so that you can have strawberry shortcake in December!

5. Find green transport options

Excess carbon emissions produced by hundreds of single-occupant car journeys can have a harmful impact on the planet, so encourage participants to find greener alternatives. Highlight any bike or scooter sharing programs, like CitiBike, that have terminals near your event space. Detail all public transportation options available in the area where your event is taking place, such as buses, trains, or subways.

Encourage attendees who will be driving to the event to carpool with other attendees that they know, or to use a rideshare app with a carpool option like Uber Pool.

6. Give chemical toilets the flush

Chemical toilets aren’t just unpleasant — they’re also environmentally unfriendly. If you need outdoor facilities at your event, consider some of the newer, greener toilet options instead. The use of sawdust helps to eliminate odors, and once the waste has been composted, it can be spread on fields to feed the land. Don’t forget to include some recycled toilet paper!

7. Go renewable

If your event requires sound and staging, look for ways to save energy. If possible, choose low-energy lights that have a reduced power demand when they’re dimmed or shut off instead of traditional stage lighting with shutters. According to Event Solar, most sound equipment and LED lights can easily be run on solar panels if that option is available to you. Event Solar is the energy behind the Croissant Neuf Summer Party, a medium-sized family festival in Wales.

You could have some fun with your renewable energy supplies by asking your attendants to get involved. From bike-powered coffee makers to Joys stations, a number of installations can be powered by pedaling. Or you could use a dance floor or walkway to create kinetic energy. By asking participants to generate power, you can entertain and educate at the same time.

8. Sustainable event suppliers

To run a truly green event, you need to collaborate with sustainable event suppliers. By choosing suppliers who align with your ethics, you can be sure that they’ll do what they can to make your event environmentally friendly. It’s a good idea to create a list of requirements when you’re choosing your suppliers. That way, you can set your own demands and go with suppliers that meet them. For instance, you might want all of your event decorations and props to be reusable — so find a supplier who can make that possible.

9. Find a sustainable event venue

The easiest way to create a green experience is to select sustainable event venues, where everything will be taken care of for you. Choose a venue that has been independently verified to meet green building standards like LEED ® or operational ratings like Green Key. To help your guests feel connected with the environment, consider reaching out to local organic farms to see if they host events on their grounds.

A specialist sustainable event venue can help you to save resources like water and power, divert waste away from landfills, offer guests sustainably produced organic food, and offset all of your event’s carbon emissions.
Examples of events

OKC Beautiful’s Sustainability Social Hour

OKC Beautiful hosts their Sustainability Social Hour on the second Wednesday of every month to bring together those who are interested in learning more about sustainability practices and environmental issues. These events give attendees the opportunity to network and connect with like-minded people within their community. These social hours also feature speakers such as Sharina Perry, the CEO of Utopia Plastix, which produces a plant-based plastic alternative.

Gaggero & Tully’s Green Home sustainability Fair

Chicago real estate firm Gaggero & Tully has organized a Green Home Sustainability Fair to introduce vendors and organizations that focus on creating more sustainable homes to current and prospective homeowners. Attendees had a chance to learn about the new community solar programs in Illinois, discuss solar panel installation with a local vendor, explore residential composting services, and more.

Green event planning doesn’t have to be a challenge

By following a plan, you can take some of the hassles and cost out of planning a green event. Plus, now that you know how to make your events more sustainable, Eventbrite can help you put your plan into action. Sign up today and create an event page for your next green event.


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