Green Event Guide: How to make your event more green
Events of any size can generate huge amounts of unnecessary waste, from both a physical waste and carbon point of view. . With some careful planning, you can make your next event more sustainable , reduce its carbon footprint and become a leader in green event planning.
And it doesn’t need to stop there – by including information about the sustainability of your event on your website and really shouting about it, you can encourage others to consider going green too.
Many event planners are concerned that running a green event will quickly become a logistical nightmare. This doesn’t have to be the case – but it does take some forward planning. In this green event planning guide, we share some steps you can take towards organising a greener event.
What is a green event?
A ‘green event’ is an event that has been conducted in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. It requires event planners to organise and execute an event in a way that wastes as little energy as possible and limits greenhouse gas emissions and general waste.
You can also use your event to positively influence the environment by promoting green initiatives and finding ways it can engage and benefit the local community. Green events have a knock-on-effect of improving your client’s profile both among attendees and in the local area, as well as yours as an environmentally-conscious event planner.
Green event planning
You may wonder how you can achieve a fully ‘green’ event while still planning it meticulously and ensuring that everything goes ahead without a hitch. Isn’t trying to be environmentally friendly just an extra hassle?
Going green needn’t be a headache. The key to eco-friendly event planning is to think green right from the start. Make it part of your whole event strategy and you’ll find that the tools and solutions are readily available as you go along. Preparation is key to greening your event successfully.
Green event checklist
Before starting to plan your event, devise a ‘green’ event checklist. This will help you make sustainability-focused decisions and make the event’s eco strategy a high priority. Below we highlight the key areas you can focus on in order to make your event more green. Follow the green event checklist below.
Waste Management at Events
Waste is a key polluter in the events sector. So, when it comes to making an event more sustainable, this should be the first thing on your checklist.
But how do you minimise waste at events? Luckily, there are many things you can do to help minimise event waste, including:
- Recycle and make recycling easy at your event
- Utilising biodegradable products
- Re-use staff uniforms
- Go paperless
- Ensure that freebies are valuable, so they’re not thrown away
- Use green catering services and minimise food wastage
Below we breakdown the above tips on how to minimise waste at your event.
Recycle and use biodegradable products
From the outset, check that your event venue recycles their waste. If there is no system in place for this, you will have time to organise a separate recycling company that can come to pick up the waste after your event.
Also, try to use recyclable or biodegradable utensils. There are some innovative and sleek alternatives to plastic options, so you don’t need to compromise on the style of your event. Suppliers such as Greenstaurant have various options for you to choose from. You should then make it as easy as possible for your guests to recycle by providing lots of clearly labeled recycling receptacles. Offer guests the chance to recycle food too, by providing compostable bins for all food waste.
The event industry’s plastic usage is often incredibly high. By considering waste from the start and utilising biodegradable alternatives when possible, you’ll be certain that your event is having minimal impact on the environment.
Here at 20 Bedford Way, our events and catering teams have replaced all single-use plastics from our venue, including name badges, cutlery and serving trays. To find out more about our single-use plastic-free commitment and the rest of our sustainable strategies, click through to our sustainable events page.
Re-use staff uniforms
If you’d like a uniform for staff at the event, ask them to wear clothes of a similar colour that they already own. Alternatively, if you are going to purchase new uniforms, ensure they’re recycled after the event.
If you’re not planning on using uniforms, you may want to consider name tags made from recyclable materials. Materials for these can consist of wood, bamboo, cardboard or seed.
There’s no excuse in this day and age to be reliant on paper when there is a variety of event technology to digitise an event. Apps and event websites offer a really slick way of keeping track of delegate numbers and keeping them updated with information on your event as well as engaged. Read more about paperless registration processes and app-based registration on smartphones and tablets.
Apps can also help with reducing paper used at the event itself. To send out a really strong eco message, you could ban the distribution of promotional leaflets at the event and rely on an event app to include all the exhibitor/conference details. The event app can also be a great place to view timetables, maps and refreshment information.
You could go all the way and host a virtual event, which eliminates the need for paper completely. Virtual events are a great way to reach large audiences without generating waste. Click here to read our tips for hosting a virtual event.
At 20 Bedford Way, we’re proud to say that we only use recyclable paper for our flyers and handouts, and encourage clients to go paperless when possible. This is part of our goal of reaching a 85% recycling rate across all venues by 2024.
Give away useful freebies, not ones they’ll throw away
Rather than giving delegates bags of giveaways that they’ll never use and dump in the nearest available bin, try to give less but more by including genuinely useful free merchandise. Make sure these are made from 100% recycled materials.
Examples of good event freebies include:
- Branded pens & notebooks
- Coffee mugs or flasks
- Branded water bottles
- Portable phone chargers
- Tote bags
- Food items, such as chocolates or biscuits
If you’re producing branded items for the event make sure you avoid putting the date on these, so they can be reused again event after event, year on year.
Make your catering greener
Catering is another key polluter in the events industry. Making event catering as ‘green’ as possible can make a big difference to the sustainability of your event. With some forward-planning and a bit of innovative thinking, you can make some key changes that will help green your event.
Use seasonal and sustainable food
When planning the menu for your event, try to consider seasonal and local food that has a smaller carbon footprint. Foods with smaller carbon footprints include:
- Seasonal and local vegetables
- Free range chicken
- Free range turkey
In contrast, beef or lamb carry a high environmental cost.
If you’re employing caterers, then work with them to achieve these aims as much as possible, keeping food miles to a minimum.
In addition, a mainstay of most events will be tea and coffee (to ensure guests are as refreshed and energetic as they can be). Try to choose coffee and tea from sustainable and fair-trade growers, and consider offering vegan milk products, too.
Here at 20 Bedford Way, we are proud of our flexible catering menus. We have a great selection of plant-based options and use locally-sourced produce. Our chefs use ingredients that are ethically sourced and of the highest quality. Read more about our event catering here.
Minimise food wastage
Confirm the number of delegates with your caterer as close to the event as possible. This way the amount of food can be adjusted to ensure minimal waste. On the day of the event, you can take steps to reduce food waste right from the moment your guests arrive by refraining from re-filling the buffet too regularly.
Also, let the levels of food go down naturally; there’s no need to overfeed everyone. Ensure they have enough, but try to avoid having lots of leftover food lying cold and untouched at the end of your event.
Donate leftover food
Inevitably you will end up with some leftover food. Why not donate any uneaten food to a charity such as Food Cycle? Ensure you organise this with your organisation prior to the event.
Use less water at events
In terms of saving on your number one beverage – water – start by asking your venue what water-saving measures are in place. Communicate the importance of using water efficiently with your venue and the caterers. Most importantly, instead of buying lots of bottled water, save on valuable budget, resources, transport and waste by using tap water instead with filters. It tastes just as good and is significantly cheaper.
Save water by asking your caterers or host team to avoid pre-filling glasses before an event. Simply fill guests’ glasses on request, thereby not wasting a drop. Alternatively, you could offer branded water bottles either for sale before your event, for anyone who may want them, or as an event freebie. This way, attendees have their own water bottles to fill up as and when needed.
Make exhibitors and guests aware of the green agenda
As part of green event management, it’s important to ensure you have strong eco-friendly messaging surrounding your event so it’s clear how important it is to you. This will encourage your exhibitors and delegates to think consciously about their interaction with the event and maybe even beyond.
Encourage exhibitors to be green
Aside from the carbon footprint and the waste aspect of your event, also consider how you can save and even generate your own energy. If your event will have exhibitors, encourage them to think laterally regarding how much energy their exhibit will use.
Obviously they’ll want the exhibit to look fantastic and attention-grabbing, but this doesn’t mean they have to use excessive amounts of energy. For example, people can be used to power anything from movie projectors, margarita stations and dance floors. Not only will people feel engaged, it will energise them and will save on electricity at the same time.
For any additional lighting you’re planning to install (in addition to the already existing lighting at the venue), try to use LED lights, which can reduce your carbon footprint by more than 70%.
Choose a green venue
Choosing the right venue is vital to making an event sustainable. You need to make sure that where the venue is located, the services it offers and its personal green agenda is in line with your own.
Here are the things you need to consider when choosing your green venue:
The venue’s use of energy
Find out about any ways the venue goes above and beyond to reduce energy consumption in its premises. Often venues will shout about the ways they reduce their own energy on the CSR (corporate social responsibility) or sustainability web pages, so be sure to investigate ahead of choosing your venue.
As part of our sustainability strategy, we’re aiming to be a carbon neutral building by 2024. This means that we’re increasing our usage of low-carbon energy sources to improve our green footprint. The events team here at 20 Bedford Way are committed to this goal and continue to find ways to leave as little impact on the environment as possible.
Where the venue is located
Location is important for sustainability as it will determine how your guests, organisers, speakers and exhibitors will travel to the venue. Making sure it’s somewhere easy and reachable by foot or public transport will help bring down the event’s carbon footprint.
Our selection of venue spaces are located in Bloomsbury and benefit from great transport links. With the nearest tube station just minutes away, our central London location is ideal for promoting sustainable travel amongst attendees. We also encourage cycling to our venue and have created a bike scheme for anyone unsure about cycling around London. Find out more about our event spaces here.
How close the suppliers are to the venue
If you’re using the venue’s own suppliers, find out how close they’re located to the venue itself. That way they’ll avoid long journeys to transport equipment.
How easy it is for guests to car share, use public transport or walk to the event
Travel makes up a huge amount of the carbon outgoings in most events. So, think of some ways to ensure your guests arrive at the event in the greenest way possible. You can:
- Provide comprehensive information regarding the public transport
- Provide walking directions to your event
- Advise your guests that there’s limited onsite parking in order to encourage your guests to arrive in other ways
- Encourage car sharing amongst your guests
Shout about your green agenda after the event
After your event is over, make sure you celebrate your successes. This helps keep the green event agenda in the minds of those who participated long after the event has finished. Ultimately you want to influence future decisions and have a long lasting effect on behaviour. It may even inspire colleagues and other businesses to host their own eco-friendly events.
So, tell your delegates and suppliers how successful your event has been in terms of sustainability and green event standards. Learn from the decisions made and the processes undertaken as well as discovering areas where you could improve in terms of how to make your event more green.
Green, sustainable events at 20 Bedford Way
Looking for a green, sustainable venue for your next event? At 20 Bedford Way, we offer a highly affordable and conveniently located events venue in Bloomsbury. Our central location, unrivalled transport connections, local suppliers and mindful, eco-friendly mindset makes us perfectly suited to help you organise a green event. Speak to us today about how we can facilitate your next green event. Call us on 020 7612 6143.
Main Image: Fig Tree Avenue, Powerhouse Museum via Flickr