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Reducing Your Carbon Footprint: Top Five Tips for Event Planners

Published: Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Sustainability, events, conference, Coventry and Warwickshire

The events industry has received a notoriously bad wrap for its carbon credentials.

Many miles are travelled, many brochures are printed, exhibitions stands are built and thrown away, the list is endless. Now more than ever, as businesses and as individuals, we are more conscious of our impact upon the world around us and are more frequently seeking improved ways to reduce the detrimental effect we have upon the environment.  

To help ease your concerns, we’ve compiled five tips to reducing your carbon footprint when organising your event: 

Make it Virtual 

In todays hyper-connected world, a physical location is not always necessary to host a successful event. Instead of booking a physical venue which needs lighting and heating, plus a location that people may need to travel to, consider streaming your keynote speech, hosting a virtual conference or launch your product online. Virtual events can reach a much broader audience without the associated carbon footprint their physical attendance might have.  

If hosting your event on a virtual platform is not an option, consider some smaller changes to the event planning process (such as the others suggested in this article) to help reduce its impact. Look for venues which are committed to using sustainably sourced catering, or those using renewable energy. If you reject a potential venue in favour of a space which has better green credentials, it’s worth feeding this back to them – it could inspire them to change their approach. 

Supplier Support 

Bringing on board suppliers with the same enthusiasm to reduce their carbon footprint allows for mutual understanding and recognition of your objective. Shop around to find suppliers committed to the same cause or investigate their ability to utilise other materials or processes which have a less damaging impact on the environment. The subsequent PR will benefit their own business too and taking pride in your collaborative efforts has its own opportunity for promotion of your efforts.  

Attendee Rewards  

Aiming to reduce the carbon footprint of your event is positive news so don’t be afraid to speak up and raise awareness of your objective. If you want your attendees to consider their travel options, if you need them to understand why single-use cups are prohibited, it’s advantageous for them to understand why – and it’s also not bad for PR.   

Communicating your plans will serve to make your attendees more aware of their own consumption and waste management, supporting your overall goal. Make sure to highlight the information on your website, in your social posts and inside the event app – if applicable. You could even go as far as offering a discount or reward for attendees who use recycled materials to produce their own collateral, those who use digital links instead of printed brochures, or those who use public transport getting to the event?   

Sustainable Travel  

Travel is undoubtedly the largest contributor to our carbon footprint when delivering or attending events. Whether flying across continents or driving up and down the motorway, the miles and associated emissions quickly accumulate. Encouraging attendees to travel to your event by public transport is just one way to help reduce this impact. To do so, booking a venue fully accessible by trains or buses will stand in your favour.  

If overnight accommodation is required, encourage attendees to stay nearby to the venue to reduce the associated emissions travelling back and forth between locations in taxis.  

If attendees need to travel by air, encourage direct flights only and car-sharing apps for multiple attendees heading in the same direction.  

Recycle and Reuse  

Assessing your supply chain will allow you to select the businesses who support your objective to recycle or reuse their products. Check suppliers use compostable or recycled materials where possible, find out if they offer biodegradable alternatives? If your event requires the construction of exhibition stands, aim to use designers and builders capable of reusing floors and walls to reduce excess waste once your event is over. Can your stand builder re-use your stand and/or furniture if your organisation is exhibiting at more than one event? Check that your event caterers are utilising re-usable cups, plates and cutlery – avoid single-use plastics wherever feasible.  

If none of the above is achievable (or you want to go the extra mile) consider teaming up with an environmental charity – could you set up a donation on behalf of your company, or could you encourage your team to participate in a regular tree-planting scheme?  

For more information on introducing sustainable event planning to your organisation, please see: https://bit.ly/2tNmCfB