When it comes to planning your event, going green should no longer be an afterthought. Whether you’re organising a small meetup, a trade show, or a three-day conference, you need to be mindful of the impact your event is having on the environment.

As an event organiser, this may be the last thing you want to add to your ever-growing to-do list, but the benefits of hosting an eco-friendly event may very well outweigh the costs. Saving the planet aside, going green can also do wonders for your brand.

Demonstrating that your conference is sustainable is becoming increasingly important when it comes to winning bids, attracting sponsors, and keeping your attendees happy too.

Hosting a green event doesn’t have to be difficult or break the bank! Here are some practical ideas to get you started on the path to sustainability:

Go paperless

Traditionally events depended a lot on paper: invitations, event flyers, brochures, programmes, signage – the list goes on. The troubling reality is most of this paper gets thrown away and we have little control over whether it will be binned responsibly. So what’s the answer?

Ditch the paper and save some trees:

  • Create an event website or app
  • Promote your event via email and social
  • Present information digitally on the day

These methods will help you to communicate and promote your event more effectively, all the while reducing your paper trail. If you must have paper, keep it to a minimum and try to opt for recycled products.

Using Eventbrite to promote and manage your event is an easy way to cut down on waste. You can quickly create an event page and send invitations directly from your Eventbrite account. Attendees can then download the Eventbrite app to receive tickets straight to their mobile. On the day of your event, you can simply scan the QR code to check in attendees. No paper required!

Samantha Kelly who organises events for female entrepreneurs as part of her Women’s Inspire Network says that the network is all about using digital more.

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“We actually encourage attendees to use social media before, during, and after our event. In fact, we sell all of our tickets through social media and Eventbrite mostly! We don’t advertise on print media, preferring digital media sites and adding value through our social media posts, blog posts and video to promote our events.

The network is based online already with weekly webinar tutorials and online coffee mornings so it’s a huge part of what we encourage. We use Tweetbeam.com screens at the event to encourage audience participation and Feedalpha.com to schedule our tweets in advance.”

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Choose a venue that cares

Where you host your event is one of the biggest decisions you can make when it comes to going green. Choosing a venue that cares about the environment as much as you do can play a massive part in reducing your carbon footprint. Here are some of the factors to consider:

  • Energy and water usage
  • Waste management
  • Access to sustainable supplies and caterers

Sam selected the Aviva Stadium to host her next Women’s Inspire Network event for this very reason:

“We chose the Aviva because it is a leading venue for sustainability and they source food locally which makes me happy as small business owners are what Women’s Inspire Network is all about. I like to walk the walk!”

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Of course, the majority of carbon emissions are generated before your attendees ever step foot at your event. In our 2018 Pulse Report, 40% of event organisers cited transport links as very important when choosing a venue. Transport to and from your event location can cause emissions to skyrocket, so location should be a key factor when selecting a venue. If you want to go the eco-friendly route, choose a venue that’s easy to access by public transport.

By selecting a venue with a high certification in sustainability, you can rest assured that the impact of the event will be reduced.

Check if your venue is LEED or ISO certified to make sure it meets the right standards.

Don’t eat into the Earth

Feeding your attendees is a sure fire way to keep them happy, but it may not have the same effect on the environment. Food waste, packaging, plastic bottles, and the mileage clocked up to transport the goods all take their toll on our planet.

Choosing a green venue should solve a lot of these issues, but if you’re concerned that standards aren’t up to scratch, here are some tips to eliminate the waste:

  • Source locally
  • Engage sustainable suppliers
  • Use reusable tableware whenever possible (biodegradable at the very least)
  • Provide filtered water in glasses instead of plastic bottles
  • Be realistic about the number of attendees and don’t over-cater
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These are simple measures that will satisfy the hunger and the green hearts of your attendees!

Communicate your vision

Participation should lie at the heart of every sustainable event. It’s crucial to inform and involve sponsors, suppliers, and attendees alike. Communicating your green vision and inviting attendees to join you in the cause will not only reduce the carbon footprint of your event, it will also boost your brand image. Winning over the hearts of your green-leaning guests, sponsors and suppliers can help you to build loyalty, trust, and secure repeat sponsorship and attendance.

With a little thought and consideration, it’s easy to minimise the impact of your event. And many of these ideas actually bring added benefits for you and your guests. By choosing to go green, you’re not just reducing your impact on the environment, you’re also positioning your brand as a champion in sustainability.

For more information on making your conference sustainable, check out our Guide to a Greener Conference, full of expert advice, inspirational case studies and actionable steps.

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