Reducing your Event’s Environmental Footprint

At last, the social and business world is reopening on a large scale, after a long hiatus. And as much as we find ourselves yearning to gather and congregate, and to connect with other humans, such prolonged confinement seems to have encouraged a shift in many people’s priorities, especially regarding sustainability and the environment. 

As we become more acutely aware of the long-term effects that our activities are having on the planet, reducing the carbon footprint of your planned event is crucial. This isn’t just for your own peace of mind; ethics and sustainability are increasingly becoming key factors of the decision-making process of consumers. So, whether your event is a social outing, or a business opportunity, a concerted effort to be environmentally friendly is sure to be well-received by your guests.

There are many ways to make your event more friendly towards the environment. Perhaps one of the most effective steps you could take is to go plastic-free. Consider the many small places where plastic, particularly single-use plastics, is used, and what alternatives might be feasible. Are you using plastic eating utensils? Disposable cups? Plastic packaging? Unfortunately, as many of us have become more aware in recent times, much of this plastic does not get recycled, and instead finds its way into the world’s oceans, which is incredibly harmful to the environment.

Another step is to reduce the amount of paper used at your event. Millions of tonnes of paper are produced yearly, yet only a portion of it gets recycled. Communication apps available via smartphone are not only more engaging for your attendees, they also greatly reduce your event’s carbon footprint. If you must use paper hard-copies, make sure there are clearly marked recycling stations so they can be disposed of responsibly.

It may also be worth reviewing the environmental policies of the vendors for your event. Are you providing catering? Is there any construction (such as a stage) necessary? Is the food and drink, or building materials, locally sourced? How are any leftovers or excess materials being managed? There are many organisations, such as Food Cloud, who collect fresh leftovers and non-perishables and distribute them to worthwhile charities. This could be something for you to investigate for your event.

One of the biggest impacts your event may have in terms of a carbon footprint comes from the level of transport involved for all of your guests to attend. Does every guest need to drive separately, or even fly, to get there? All of these journeys add up and take their toll on the environment. If your event is a local one, it may be worth locating the venue somewhere easily accessible by public transport. Or you could hire a private bus to transport your guests to and from your event. 

If even longer distances are involved, you might even reconsider if physical attendance is necessary. One of the few upsides of lockdown has been discovering the effectiveness of virtual events, which can be hosted and attended from anywhere and greatly reduce the energy costs and emissions involved. Of course, this isn’t a viable option for every event. Ultimately it will be up to you to decide how to balance practices that help the environment with the event that works best for you.