When it comes to planning any kind of event, there is a lot for you to think about. Whilst you might be thinking about refreshments, music, and décor, how much thought do you give to the sustainability of your event? The state of the environment is now at the forefront of many people’s minds, and it is important that we all do our bit to help the planet, and these events can be a great place to start.
One of the biggest problems with any kind of event or festival is the amount of waste that it can create. Event organisers are now being pushed to think more carefully about their waste management and how they can be more sustainable in all of their practices. We have therefore taken a look at how you can make an overall improvement to the sustainability of your events.
Assess your impact
To understand where you are going, you first need to know where you are. That means that you should take a good look at your current situation before you work out what to change. Take an objective view of the events that you have organised in the past and try to think about the levels of waste that have been created. Once you know how much waste you produce and the main areas that it comes from, you will have a better idea of what you need to tackle.
Starting the process of being more sustainable can seem daunting and it will often look like you have a huge mountain to climb, so start off by taking things piece by piece. Look at the area that creates the most waste and deal with that first before you move on to other areas. This will help it to feel more manageable and allows you to set goals which are realistic.
When it comes to waste, plastic is often the biggest problem. Whilst some of it can be recycled, a lot either cannot or needs specialist processes. Instead of looking at ways to deal with your plastic waste, why not try to find ways not to have any? Making your event plastic free means that waste is not a problem, and it can be a hugely popular ethos with guests and visitors.
You can make simple changes such as switching plastic straws to paper ones, using wooden cutlery and encouraging the use of reusable cups. Even decorations can use paper, card and bamboo instead of plastic and will look just as good.
Whilst there had already been moves to get rid of paper from our lives, this was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tickets, brochures and maps can now all be replaced with microsites and mobile apps meaning not only do you cut down on the amount of paper that you waste, but you can also gather better information about your delegates or visitors to follow up with them later.
When it comes to waste, we often do not give much thought to food and drink, but we should as food waste contributes to around 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions thanks to the methane that it releases when it reaches landfill. Choosing locally sourced food that is also organic is kinder to the environment thanks to the reduced number of pesticides used and the shorter transportation journeys that need to be made. This can also provide a great financial boost to the local economy.
If you do have any food and drink left over at the end of your event, try to resist the urge to throw it in the bin. If it is still fit for consumption, then look at ways in which you could donate it to a food bank or homeless shelter where it can still be enjoyed by those who need it. If there is anything which cannot be passed on, try to see if there are disposal schemes available that will help you to compost it instead of sending it to landfill.
Don’t just look at the food that you offer on its own, try to think about how it will be served as well. Say goodbye to plastic containers and make the move towards paper plates and cardboard tubs or boxes for more sustainable packaging options.
Some venues support sustainable events better than others so look into your proposed venue carefully. Try to find out more about their own environmental management systems, whether they have a Green Tourism certificate and whether they have sustainable sources of energy if large amounts of power are likely to be used.
When you order materials for your events, try to think carefully about how much you actually need. Think back to the realities of previous events as a guide to what you need this time. If you over order, then a lot of things could end up going to waste without ever having been used. You should also look at items that can be reused or those which can be saved for future events if they are not needed this time.
No matter how hard we try, there will always be some waste produced by an event, so it is important to have a plan on how you intend to deal with this. It is often advisable to make use of third-party services who can ensure that your waste is collected and dealt with as efficiently and sustainably as possible.
They can also help you to deal with the inevitable litter that will be left behind. These can help to ensure that as much material as possible is recycled and that the waste which is not recyclable is responsibly disposed of.
Making your event as sustainable as possible is very important for you, your attendees and, of course, the planet. It might seem like a huge task, but it is surprising how much difference a few changes can make, and how popular it can make you with those attending your event and those looking in from the outside.