Going green and events are two things that don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Events in general have major environmental impacts from disposable cups to the event agendas scattered on the ground once everyone leaves. The good news is in the last few years both clients and event planners have realized that events need to start being green, but old habits are hard to break. To help you along I have put together a few easy ways you can reduce your events carbon footprint.

Information

Agenda

Are you still printing out agenda booklets with detailed information? Try reducing this to a one page overview and then posting in-depth information online and on reader boards. It is easy to update the agenda online as needed and you can provide much more information as you are not constrained to printing needs.

Evaluations

Most people own a smart phone and almost everyone now carries their tablet or computer with them, so why not have your attendees use them to fill out evaluations? By doing this you won’t have to tabulate them (although I did make a few extra bucks doing this when I needed some extra cash when I was younger, pre-smart phone of course), speakers get the results quickly and you aren’t spending money printing a million of these out. Personally not having speakers constantly ask me when the results will be completed is reason enough for me to go this route.

Giveaways

Water Bottles

Ditch the disposable water bottles and have a sponsor provide sustainable refillable water bottles in the attendee bag. Provide water coolers throughout the venue for attendees to fill their bottles and you have just cut out a super ridiculous amount of plastic.

Swag

Other than the water bottle I mentioned above, what about your swag is useful beyond your event? Get creative with how to provide items and information to your attendees, that doesn’t involve a $1.00 item that will end up in the landfill. Provide items that you really think people will use or have a contest for a select amount of big items that people would really want rather than everyone getting an eraser. Seriously who even uses a pencil anymore?

Sponsor information

Don’t hate me for this, but no one looks at your sponsor information that goes in the attendee bag at registration. I worked the registration line for years and have watched so many people take out the water bottle and USB key and throw everything else in the garbage. Work with your sponsors on better ways to provide their information to your attendees. You can start by having information during registration and on the website and to adding information to the signage onsite. There are so many other ways to get the information out other than a piece of paper in a bag. Get creative!

Good (or at least better) for the Environment Products

Compostable items

If you must use disposable items make sure that you are using the compostable types. There are so many compostable alternatives to the standard cups and flatware that using non-compostable versions seems way out of date. Most venues and event places are standardizing these items anyway, but if they are not remember the more you insist on using these products the more likely they will change over in the long term.

Recycled Products

Where did your plastic badge holders come from? Did you know that there was even an option to purchase badges made from recycled material? Try sourcing recycled items that you can use in your attendee bag (of course only if they are practical) and make sure you are utilizing a reusable bag instead of a plastic one. There are so many products that we use that also come in a ‘greener’ version. Just start asking and you will be surprised at how many items are available.

Event Location

Venue

Choosing a venue that embraces green practices such as recycling, composting and energy saving techniques is getting so much easier to find. Simply by using these venues over traditional venues you are helping make the overall impact of your event on the environment less and you didn’t even have do a thing.

Resource Local

Not everything can be sourced locally, but shipping in flowers from Hawaii when you are doing an event in London (true story by the way) has a huge environmental impact, not to mention an insane price tag. Do a little bit of research on local vendors, products, and you will be surprised at how much money you can save while reducing your events footprint.

STOP PRINTING EVERYTHING OUT!

I know you live by your event binder, but with a little organization and proper filing on your computer you can eliminate most of it. Give it a try. You will be shocked at how much better your back feels when you are not carrying around a phone book sized binder.

There are so many more ways to reduce, reuse and recycle at each and every event. Start by challenging both yourself and your team on how many things you can do to for your next event and in no time this will be the new normal.

Shannon

Shannon Anderson has been an active member in the event industry for over 15 years trying out every job she could from banquet server to Director of Events. Taking on challenges from the screens at the Sundance Film Festival, the exotic locations of destination weddings and the slightly scary convention centers in Cartagena, Columbia, she has been there, done that and made small children and clients happy.

Currently she can be found traveling the globe, providing an educational experience about her job in creative production and spreading her wisdom to anyone within earshot. As a person who spends equal time on two different continents she chronicles her explorations on her daily lifestyle blog for sanity and admiration.
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