Being environmentally friendly stopped being just a buzzword a long time ago; now it’s the norm and it’s even imposed these days. Attendees and even sponsors expect that the organizers will do everything they possibly can to limit the environmental impact of their workshops, meetings and events. But what does an environmentally friendly conference entail? Recycling, plastic usage reduction, plant-based or ethically produced food, and a conscious reduction of the event’s carbon impact are all part of a sustainable, green, or eco-friendly event.
Everything sounds good in theory, but how does an event manager or organizer actually plan a sustainable event, all while still being on budget?
A green event is actually quite easy to plan in this day and age, all thanks to technological advancements. So without further ado, let’s look at 5 ways to make sure that your conference is environmentally friendly.
Digital and hybrid events are all the rage these days, and for all the good reasons, sustainability included. With a well put together hybrid event, getting attention and traction for your event is not only easier, but since it plays on multiple avenues, both physical and digital, the reach will be much greater. Not only that, but also having an online audience can reduce the environmental cost of your event: instead of having 3 000 people in person, you can get the same number of attendees with, let’s say, 1 500 online participants and still keep the 3 000 in person. The numbers add up: with more people online, you can get the same amount or even more attendees, without planning for extra catering, transportation, etc. It’s like a win-win situation for everybody involved. Of course, the ideal situation is to go completely online, on an events platform ( you know, like VEEP (LINK) ) that can translate the live experience into a digital one. This would be the best option, as it would generate no debris and the carbon footprint would be minimal, give or take a few watts here and there.
When choosing venues for your conference, think about a location that is easily accessible either by food or by public transportation. Offering promotions for carpooling for taxis, Uber or Lyft is also a good strategy to offer to your attendees to minimize the carbon footprint.
Another solution is to offer personalized transportation options: busses for speakers getting them from the airport to their accommodation and from their accommodation to the conference. Getting speakers to your live event is quite the hassle these days, given the whole pandemic situation that’s still going on. Rather than limiting your options, you can keep people safe and still have them be present at your event with the help of hybrid events. Just like attendees at home, speakers can tune in at different panels or stages remotely, presenting, talking, interacting with the audience from the safety of their home. No borders, no limitations, more information, better events for everybody involved.
Lots of venues may boast and try to come off as sustainable and assure you that they are environmentally friendly. You can’t just take everything at face value and trust their word; sometimes a more detailed look is better. So when it comes to venues and hotels for your participants LEED, APEX/ASTM, Green Key, and Green Leaders.
As nice as it is to have a physical ticket to remember the event by, it creates a huge waste of plastic and/or cardboard. Rather than sending paper invitations or physical tickets, opt for them to be sent via email. Of course, if you want to, you can opt for a personalized ticketing app or a whole platform dedicated to your event, that can have all the details in it: agenda, tickets, information about the speakers and other attendees. (you know, like VEEP)
Another great option to reduce potential waste is to eliminate individual packaging for gifts and food & beverages. Having water pitchers in conferences can easily reduce your potential waste and keep the meeting more environmentally friendly.
Plastic is one of the most polluting factors to our environment. It overflows in the landfills and it harms the oceans and water systems, and let’s not even talk about it’s massive carbon footprint from its creation. And we get the appeal, it’s easy, lightweight and cheap to get it. But there’s always better options. For example, think about talking to your catering service about having actual dinner plates instead of plastic ones. If you will be suing name-badge holders, try to collect them after the event; another good option is to not have any sort of straws at the event and banning helium balloons.
What other tips to staying environmentally friendly do you know?