One of the key themes in the 2016 Global Sustainable Events Summit research was that ‘sustainability is not a barrier to creativity’. But are we stepping forward with these creative solutions and proposals for our clients? Many event planners are conscious that ‘going green’ is a more costly and time heavy process, but with a few key changes it is easy to create a more environmentally friendly event. As planners, we are in a great position to drive this sustainable change, and with venues now leading the way with ever-evolving green credentials it’s important we follow suit and continue to drive a more forward-thinking sustainable events industry.
Below are our top tips on how you can create a ‘greener’ event.
Choosing the right venue
When delivering a green event choosing a venue that lends itself to this philosophy is vital. This is becoming increasingly easier as we are now seeing a wealth of venues that are shifting to a greener approach. Venues such as The Crystal and British Airways i360, designed purely with sustainability in mind, are just a couple of the current event spaces driven by an ‘intelligent’ and eco-friendly architectural design.
No longer is it just about whether a venue recycles. With the buyers ever-evolving expectations, we are seeing a variety of advancements, including locally sourced menus, composting facilities, hire bikes, no bottled water policies and solar power energy to name a few. We are also seeing venues working smarter with how they fill their event space, working alongside providers such as Showslice who connect your event with other organisers looking to hold events with similar supplier requirements; therefore avoiding the transport of extra equipment and significantly reducing the impact on the environment.
A destination is key! Aim to choose a venue that has good public transport connections, helping to reduce delegates all travelling to the event in separate cars and taxis. Make sure the transport options are clearly highlighted in your event comms and for those events in city centres include walking routes to the venue. Promote trusted carpooling sites such as BlaBlaCar for delegates to share lifts to the destination and for offsite dinners try to provide electric cars/buses to the destination.
Make ethical food and drink choices
When planning your menu, work with the venue on using seasonal and local produce. If you are using external caterers, then there are plenty of choices offering organic and locally sourced options, making it easier to pick a menu that is both kinder to the environment and will keep delegates energised. Caterers such as Tom’s Feast offer 100% seasonal produce all sourced within 100 miles of their kitchen, whilst Squid and Pear, the first UK caterers to receive the three-star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association, create ethical menus transported in 100% compostable packaging.
When it comes to F&B one of the key issues is the waste. There are though a number of ways to minimise this, from confirming with your caterers closer to the event your delegate numbers, through to avoiding buffet options where it is harder to manage quantities. For those events where surplus food is unavoidable, then companies such as Food Cycle and Eighth Plate collect surplus food from events and redistribute it to the people locally who need it. There are also now a number of innovations to minimise unnecessary packaging, with many suppliers now offering compostable tableware and a rise in companies such as Bakey’s and Loliware who offer edible cutlery and bowls.
Prior to your event discuss with your venue on how you can reduce water consumption. Instead of buying bottled water provide tap water with filters or reusable water bottles that the delegates can keep throughout the event programme. Soon you may even be able to use the world’s first edible water bottle, The Ooho! If you do want to use bottled water, then opt for One, an ethical brand where the profit from each bottle funds the provision of clean water in the world’s poorest communities.
Engage your delegates through CSR
Involving delegates with your sustainable approach is a brilliant way to engage them and improve the success of your event. There are numerous creative ways this can be built into the agenda. Companies such as Electric Pedals offer delegates the opportunity to power cinema screens, blitz smoothies or charge phones through human-powered pedal bikes. A larger scale example of this was at last year’s Glastonbury where Greenpeace set up a mini gym where people power created the energy for the sound systems.
Wherever your destination, there are an abundance of CSR focused team building activities available for groups. Whether it is a charity bike build, orchard planting or an eco-treasure hunt, it is always worth researching where you can support in the local community. Using incentives to help delegates think more sustainably is also a great way to help drive a greener event. Create fun ways for teams to compete to be the most sustainable, or reward them for participation in your CSR initiatives. Your company’s sustainability policy can also be woven into you agenda, by embedding social pledges into your event content to be revisited the following year.
With the array of technology now available it is easy to go paperless at your events. Invite guests with digital invitations and provide all information on an event app. If you are using name badges, then opt for a biodegradable option with a bamboo lanyard, or a seeded badge which delegates can plant after the event. Use your event app as a mechanism to promote offers or initiatives, such as free cups of Fairtrade coffee from a local café or ways they can support the local community.
Try to avoid printing unnecessary brochures and collateral to support the event. Choose eco-friendly promotional merchandise such as seed bombs, solar powered pedometers or desk gardens and avoid dating them so they can be used year after year.
Choosing your suppliers
Choosing the right suppliers is key when delivering a more sustainable event. Always aim to use local suppliers wherever possible to avoid unnecessary mileage. When working with florists, ask for British and seasonal flowers and where you can opt for reusable event furniture, branding and staging. There are also many social enterprise suppliers now in operation, such as companies like the Connection Crew who train up those who have previously been homeless to be event crew.
Finally, most importantly, amplify your message. Having your delegates engaged with what you are trying to achieve is one of the best ways to create an effective sustainable event.
There is an infinite number of ways that you can add a sustainable element into your event, and the above is just a small snapshot. If you need more inspiration for your event then don’t hesitate to contact us on +44 (0) 207 424 3333
Read our other sustainability blogs
The best sustainable venues across the globe
Top ethical restaurant picks perfect for your next event
Top Team Building Ideas With A CSR Factor