Plastic-Free July may have just passed, but our commitment to sustainability in our events definitely has not. At the beginning of 2020, the events industry named environmental sustainability as their number 1 concern in the industry (according to Cvent). Then, other concerns took over throughout the year, as we know too well. But as events start to return, there is no better time to ensure that we build back better and integrate sustainable practices into our industry.
We’ve already gone through a lot of innovation and change in the events industry – with the rise of virtual and hybrid events over the past year. And as we continue to reinvent the events industry, we’re jumping in on the conversation early to make it a more sustainable one that minimizes the amount of waste created and thus, the environmental impact we have.
If you’re looking for ways to create a more sustainable event, here’s a great place to start:
Signage is a critical way to convey important messages and directions for your event attendees. But there are ways we can make them reusable, ultimately reducing the waste they generate:
- Go digital! An app or digital copy could be a great way to ensure all the right information goes to your attendees (in real time) without printing it out.
- If you need to print, print on 100% recycled paper.
- Consider how the organizational branding can be used across multiple events or over multiple years. This could be as simple as omitting the date and location and using velcro to swap out new information year-to-year.
- Recycle signage that can’t be used to an art collective that can repurpose the materials.
Swag & Giveaways
Everyone loves a bit of swag to take away with them and remember the event by. But over-production of items they may not need or only use once can negatively contribute to the environment. Some alternatives to consider include:
- Creating an online store so guests are choosing the products they actually want and vendors are producing more accurate quantities.
- Choosing items that are reusable beyond the event.
- Hand-delivering gift bags over shipping to reduce transport costs.
- Utilizing local vendors who are making products to order. You can see some of our favorite vendors for unique, personalized gifts here.
Food and Beverage
In events, we usually think about over-ordering, because we never want to run out nor leave guests feeling hungry. But it could also mean that we’re dealing with a lot of waste at the end of the event. Here are some top tips to help minimize food waste:
- Track your food waste and refer to consumption data from previous events of the same nature to inform your ordering decisions.
- Require pre-registration of the event for every individual meal function – from the morning tea pastries to dinner.
- Consider a plant-based menu that tends to have a less environmental impact in its production than meat-based menus.
- Design your portion sizes to be consumable rather than visually impressive and refresh them more often.
- Keep food safely in the back of the house and only use it when it is truly needed.
- Serve them on eco-friendly plates and utensils (like those found by Cutlerease ™️)
- Find ways to dispose of excess food or food waste with a food bank or in compost.
For us, we love using (and volunteering) with San Francisco-Marin Food Bank that gives back to our local area in amazing ways.
Picking the right venue with existing sustainable practices can help tick a few boxes in ensuring your event is as green as possible.
- Do they know where their waste is going and do they have a recycling plan?
- Do they know where their power is coming from – wind and solar ideally?
- Have they incorporated LED lights?
A great way to find the venues that are giving back positively to the environment is a LEED Certification. Certified venues have been assessed by the U.S. Green Building Council for healthy, sustainable, and liveable spaces. At this time, LEED certifications are still voluntary and not the only way to know if a venue is going green. You can find some of our favorite LEED-certified venues here.
For big-tier events, attendees are usually flying in from all around the country or even abroad. But the aviation industry contributes to about 5% of global warming a year. The more we can minimize unnecessary travel, the better all around. And when we’re already becoming more well-versed in producing engaging virtual events, this can be a positive opportunity to not only include those who cannot travel to an event, but also reduce the carbon footprint.
Shifting to a more sustainable industry will require more than the work of one person or one events agency. And that’s why we at BB Events are excited to have joined the Society for Sustainable Events (SFSE – previously known as the Green Meeting Industry Council).
We are working with them to advocate and educate around sustainability in the events industry. We strongly believe that this is the future of events – one that minimizes the impact on the environment but maximizes the opportunity to be innovative and engaging for our attendees.
To see how you can make your next event as sustainable as it can be, get in touch with Becca and the team today.