Every event can be successful and sustainable at the same time. By implementing a few simple steps, you can make a big difference. All it takes is commitment to the environment and a vision. A green event utilizes resources optimally, helps in restoring them, recognizes and honors people who are involved, supports the local economy and helps participants understand and appreciate the advantages of sustainability.
Engage planning committee members and make them commit to a sustainable event. Define goals, probable outcomes and how best to measure them.
Choose meeting sites that are accessible by public transit (bus, tram, train, metro), bikable or walkable.
Publicize your environmental commitment and highlight it in your outreach collaterals and communications with potential funders, sponsors, presenters, speakers, attendees and contractors. Make every stakeholder an important part of your sustainable event.
Search and research venues, organizers, caterers, contractors, paper, printer and other suppliers who share a commitment to green practices.
Planning the Event
Finalize a site that has ample public transportation options and is easily accessible via these options. Don’t forget to publicize the transit options in communication materials.
Do your homework and find out if venue, facility and other resource managers are open or have adopted sustainable measures. Where do they procure food from? Do they rely on locally-sourced produce or materials? Are they into water and energy conservation? Do they work with sustainable construction materials? Inquire if they are open to working with the planning committee towards improving the venue’s environmental performance while preparing for the event.
Contact local presenters and experts who can promote local endeavors and publicize local talent.
Draw up a list of green hotels to choose potential rooms for visiting participants. You can get the planning committee to host the presenters.
Utilize emails to collect speaker photos and bios and to ask about their accessibility, dietary and audio-visual needs.
Publicity and Registration
Mark the date on the website, and ask attendees to do the same on their calendars via email. You can distribute relevant information by other electronic means. Also, facilitate online registration.
Optimize the usage of environmentally sound, recyclable paper by using chlorine-free paper and printing with the help of vegetable-based ink. Check online for bulk order suppliers in your area.
Take into consideration what materials need to be printed and what can be arranged online. For name tags, go with recycled paper. Arrange for a bin at the exit and ask participants to dispose of the tags there.
Make use of water-based markers and multi-use whiteboards. Prepare a list of reading resources and post on the website prior to the event. Request presentation copies from presenters and put them up on the event website.
Put across your goals to the catering company, facilities manager or Executive Chef. Opt for organic, locally-produced seasonal food items and beverages and arrange for distribution of leftovers to charity. Do a headcount carefully for closely estimating food quantities and minimizing waste.
Arrange for all the scraps and leftovers to be taken for composting to an organic farm. Keep a compost bin next to the food stations for attendees to deposit the leftovers.
Choose reusable tablecloths, plates, napkins and beverage glasses or containers. Go for large containers for food, beverages and condiments in place of individual bottles, cans and packets.
Venue Amenities and Sustainability Programs
Place signages throughout the venue to educate the attendees about energy and water conservation, composting, recycling and menu choices.
Provide information during the course of the event about sustainability milestones and the initiatives you have taken / intend to take to meet them.
Plan and coordinate in advance to give back something to the host organization, like a donation to fund a “plant-a-tree” campaign, which can greatly minimize your event’s carbon footprint.
You can gift seed packet favors to both presenters and participants to promote and commemorate the event.
At the Event
Mark all composting and recycling containers and bins, energy and water conservation cues and organic and local menu sources. You should request participants to recycle name tags once the event ends. Post transit information and give options at an easy-to-spot place.
Communicate the goals of your event to the participants and seek their help in achieving them.
Measure and report metrics like energy and water savings, recycling, composting and other sustainability goals during the course of the event; lay down the learning outcomes from the event.
Point out any additional steps undertaken at the event site in order to be more sustainable like non-toxic cleaning materials, lighting and energy conservation.
Acknowledge the contribution of key personnel like the event managers, coordinators, caterers, facility managers and others in helping the event meet its environmental and business / social objectives by awards and certificates.
Seek evaluation from participants about the sustainability efforts by handing out a questionnaire which needs to be returned during the event. You can also post it on the event website. Measure and publish results of the event and key post-event takeaways. Lay down next steps on the site.
Paper-free event mobile apps let you join the green movement without any pain. The best part is, with their productivity tools, you’ll realize how you can get more done sans paper! Event organizers and managers can offer their audience greater levels of information, productivity and engagement with just their mobile devices, helping them better organize their events while contributing to a greener environment.