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Whether you are holding a company party or an industry-wide convention, you can plan sustainable events. 

Sustainability is extremely important when event planning, as conference participants generate on average 1.89 kg of waste and more than 176 kg of CO2 emissions per day, according to calculations by event agency MeetGreen.

Awareness of environmental protection and sustainability has increased, and the possibilities for organising sustainable events have become more diverse.

In this article, we will show you how to make your event as sustainable as possible.

How to organise events online 

Is it necessary for the participants to meet in person or is a digital event also possible?

A large number of CO2 emissions come from travel to and from the event itself. This is effectively eliminated when you take these events online. While that might not make sense for a smaller company party, larger conventions where participants come from around the world might benefit from going online. 

Hybrid events are also possible. In this case, only some of the participants travel, and others join online. This opens up other possibilities, such as inviting some participants onsite and adding individual speakers via video. There are also tools to remotely add interpreters.

Organise events around directly helping the environment

Your next company party or outing can also involve doing something for nature and environmental protection. For example, you can take part in a clean-up campaign or plant trees. This not only helps the environment but also boosts team spirit. 

For example, Westminster City Council partnered with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the UK, alongside Big Blue Ocean Cleanup and Royal Haskoning, to clean up a local stretch of the Thames foreshore in London last year. After spending the afternoon picking up litter we amassed over 80kg of plastic from the riverside. You can read more about the event here.

Choose a location strategically

To keep your events sustainable, ensure your chosen location can be reached by public transport. While holding the company summer party in an idyllic location far away from the city may seem like a good idea, getting there by car creates a significant amount of emissions. 

If you organise a sustainable event where the participants stay overnight, make sure that the hotels are also accessible by public transport. Ideally, you will find a conference centre, restaurant or hotel that pays attention to sustainability itself and, for example, saves water and uses energy from renewable sources.

If you rent a location for your sustainable event where you cook, decorate and clean yourself, use water sparingly and use environmentally friendly cleaning products.

Reduce paper use

Admission tickets, programme booklets and advertising flyers can all add up during events. Consider whether you can make these things digital, such as making documents easy for guests to download, providing QR codes or maybe even creating an event app. Another option for advertising is using a projector and a blank wall – you can then do without posters altogether! 

If you cannot avoid printing documents, use recycled paper and print sparingly. There are also printers that work in an environmentally friendly manner. 

Don’t forget to recycle all your paper after the event using a source-segregated recycling service. By having paper collected separately, instead of as mixed recycling, you are helping to avoid extensive sorting afterwards which results in a loss of quality. 

Download our free recycling guide

Motivate guests to travel in an environmentally friendly way

Cars are still the most convenient option for many people, which is why setting up incentives to use sustainable means of transport might be helpful. For example, you can contribute to travel costs if participants of your green event arrive by bus or train. 

A shuttle service from the train station to the location can also be useful for larger events. If guests are flying in, make them aware of the option of choosing low-carbon flights.

Reduce waste at your event

A green event is often also a zero-waste event. To reduce your waste you can:

  • Buy decorations that you can reuse for the next corporate event
  • Collect name tags at the end of the event and use them again next time
  • Offer drinks in reusable cups or bottles.

Another way to reduce waste is to borrow instead of buy. You can often rent crockery, glasses and decorations. 

When waste is unavoidable, make sure to provide the correct bins for participants to separate the waste that is generated. Having a visual reminder of where waste goes will also provide your attendees with the information they need to recycle correctly. Simply put these posters up next to where waste is put in the bin to ensure maximum-quality recycling at your event. 

Download our free guide: 9 tips for reducing waste

Make catering sustainable

Whether it is a company party, corporate outing or conference; catering is part of every event. For a green event, rely on a caterer who uses locally sourced, and ‘fair trade’ products. They usually also support the regional economy. If possible, also provide reusable cutlery, plates and cups.

Donate leftover food

Professional caterers can estimate how much food is needed for a predetermined number of people, so there shouldn’t be too many leftovers. Nevertheless, you can ask the participants about their likes and dislikes to prevent an excess of individual dishes. 

Download our free food waste guide

Saving energy in climate and technology

You can also avoid emissions by using energy-efficient technology. Try to use air conditioning and heating sparingly and not set the room temperature too high or too low.

Find out how Westminster City Council is helping to minimise carbon emissions: Electrifying our waste and recycling fleet 

Distribute sustainable promotional items/gifts

Anyone who visited a trade fair or a specialist congress a few years ago often came back with a whole bag full of pens, key rings and other promotional gifts – many of them made of plastic or wrapped in plastic.

Most of it probably ended up in the bin after a short time. There are now alternatives that are not only more sustainable but also make a lasting impression, such as cork pens, wooden pencils or small bags with flower seeds. 

This may be a little more expensive, but it is more likely that it will be used – and it is more likely to be remembered by the event participants than the 100th plastic pen.

Learn more about sustainability 

To learn more about how you can make your next event more sustainable, download our free sustainability guide. You will learn how to create a sustainability plan for your business and read case studies of real businesses that achieved sustainability themselves.

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