People are growing increasingly more aware of the ways their lifestyles affect the environment, and they expect organizations to step up their sustainability game, too. Sustainability has become an important event trend several years ago, but it’s only with the pandemic and rapid advancement of event technology that it started making some serious waves. Organizations can now make their conferences and events greener in several tangible ways.
The environmental impact of an in-person event is huge. On average, one attendee creates 1.89 kg (4.16 lbs) waste per day, while air, train, and car travel together contribute to 84% of the event’s carbon footprint. Considering that, the sustainable event trend is our responsibility rather than a desirable option or a persuasive marketing tactic.That isn’t to say that event planners shouldn’t market their events as sustainable, but they should be wary of greenwashing,
“the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound” (Investopedia)
Be honest with your audience about the ways you’re implementing the sustainable event trend. Now, let’s explore the best ways you can make your events more sustainable.
Going all virtual is the #1 best thing event planners can do if they’re dedicated to the sustainable event trend. Because they require no traveling, lodging, COVID-compliant measures, and catering services, virtual events have a drastically lower environmental impact than in-person events. The University of Michigan’s research shows that a particular online event produced 66 times less greenhouse gas emissions than its in-person counterpart.
If you decided to go virtual for environmental reasons, let your online audience know that. Thank them for being part of your sustainability mission. Do some calculations and share information about your event’s reduced impact on the environment to spark higher engagement levels around going green.
But remember: virtual attendees and organizers nonetheless use energy, eat, drink, and create trash in the meantime. Events aside, an average American still produces 4.9 lbs of waste per day.
The second-best solution that supports the sustainability event trend is producing a hybrid event. Thanks to hybrid events, a significant portion of your in-person audience can migrate online or to a venue that requires less travel. Keep in mind that simply adding a virtual audience to your in-person audience doesn’t make your event more sustainable. The more attendees, the bigger the impact on the environment.
The world of hybrid events is vast and versatile, though. Not all hybrid event models are equally sustainable. The hybrid venue selection plays a big part in making events sustainable. Consider hosting your hybrid experience in a studio or several regional, local hubs.
- Studio-Produced Hybrid Events
Studio-produced hybrid events are the most environmentally friendly as there are typically very few in-person attendees. The majority of the audience interacts with content and each other virtually. The benefits lie in more flexibility for event planners and high production quality.
- Regional Hubs
One of the most problematic aspects of the events industry is the air travel that in-person events require. Rather than hosting the in-person portion of your hybrid event in one venue, consider planning several smaller in-person gatherings in regions where most of your attendees live.
If going hybrid or virtual is not available to you, there are still many ways to make in-person events more sustainable. Choose venues that:
- are easily reachable by public transportation,
- are ISO 20121 certified,
- have solar panels,
- have local restaurants nearby,
- offer eco-friendly lodging,
- use renewable sources, LED lights, and other lower efficiency systems for your production needs.
Curb The Food Waste!
Food waste in the events industry is huge, but luckily, there are small steps planners can take to lessen the impact on the environment. Offer vegan and vegetarian options as they have a lower carbon footprint. Once planners get an accurate guest count, they tend to overdo it – just in case. However, there’s no need to go overboard! If you still end up with leftover food, partner up with local programs and donate it to those in need.
Aside from the food itself, the waste from catering is also unsustainable. Promote using reusable water bottles and biodegradable cups rather than plastic ones.
Go Paperless With Event Technology!
Event platforms have become the base of a modern event strategy. RFID technology, event platforms, and social media platforms have revolutionized the way we communicate and interact with each other at events. There is no longer an absolute need for paper signage, printed-out schedules, and branding materials. It can all live on the platform. That way, your attendees will have all the information with them at all times and you’ll be able to make updates in real-time. You can also have a page dedicated to sustainability and inform your attendees about all the ways you’re supporting the sustainable event trend.
Going paperless will also save you some money in your event budget as there will be no need to print out materials, store them, and pay for the labor necessary to manage the prints and hand them out. It’s green and budget-friendly: a true sustainability victory!
Join The Sustainable Event Trend
Hopping on a sustainable event trend is not just our duty, it’s also a great way to attract more customers to align with our brands. After all, consumers are far more likely to align themselves with companies that share their values. And sustainability is something that people care deeply about.
We have covered a few changes you can make in your event strategy to ensure that you’re planning sustainable events. Despite their own set of challenges, virtual events are the best way to reach your sustainability goals. Organizations can also modify their venue selection and catering choices and rely more heavily on event technology instead of paper.
Whichever way event planners choose to go, it’s important they make a plan, define their particular sustainability goals, and reach them. Sustainable event management is not a piece of cake, but it can be done! If you need an event partner who can help you reach your event goals, reach out to Endless Events. As Einsteins of Events, we are all about turning your event vision into an unforgettable, sustainable experience.