• Fig Tree Avenue, How To Make Events More Green

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’ must be conducted in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. This means you should plan your event to waste as little energy and water as possible as well as limiting 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 the knock-on-effect of improving your client’s profile 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 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.

Minimise waste at your event 

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 to tackle. Below we highlight some 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 which 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 bring the style of your event down. Suppliers such as Greenstaurant have various options for you to choose from. Then, make it as easy as possible for your guests to recycle by providing lots of recycling receptacles. Offer guests the chance to recycle food too, by providing compostable bins for all food waste.

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.

Go paperless 

There’s no excuse in this day and age to be reliant on paper when there are so many ways 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 and 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, map and refreshment information.

Give away useful freebies, not ones they’ll throw away 

Rather than giving delegates bags of giveaways that they’ll never use again and dump in the nearest available bin, try to give less but more by including genuinely useful free merchandise that they’ll be able to reuse. Make sure these are made from 100% recycled materials.

Plus, 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, too.

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.

Save water 

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.

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 event 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) web pages, so be sure to investigate ahead of choosing your venue.

  • 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.

  • 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:

  • Advise your guests that there’s limited onsite parking in order to encourage your guests to arrive in other ways
  • Provide comprehensive information regarding the public transport
  • Provide walking directions to your event.

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. This means the mark of your green event is likely to influence future decisions and have a long lasting effect on behaviour. 

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

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