Written by CadmiumCD Contributor Pamela Shigeoka
If there’s one thing you’re guaranteed to have at the end of any large event… it’s a lot of garbage. Not exactly the most pleasant thought when you’re wrapping up a show, is it? But as the events industry is pushing more and more toward sustainability, it’s important to look at how you can reduce waste and make your event more sustainable.
Know Your Impact
The first step to reducing your event’s footprint is to know what your footprint is in the first place. If you’ve held events in the past, look at costs as well as losses in your financials to start tracking down ways to make your future events more sustainable. Is your disposal bill particularly high? Maybe that means your event produced too much disposable materials. Did your event have a lot of food waste? Were the energy bills for the event sky high?
Looking at your past events gives you a solid starting point for finding ways to reduce your event’s environmental impact. There are companies that specialize in event sustainability that can help you discover your footprint and find the best ways to reduce it.
Often, a huge amount of the waste produced by events is handouts and other printed materials. One of the easiest ways to reduce your waste footprint is to go digital. Instead of having printed paper handouts and booklets, make use of an event mobile app or website. You can get all of the information that attendees need to them quickly and easily through an app, and you won’t have to deal with both the expense of all that printing or the hassle of trying to recycle as much of it as you can after your event is over.
Mobile apps like CadmiumCD’s eventScribe even allow attendees to take notes within the app directly on their session materials. A good event app will allow attendees to access their schedule, an exhibit hall floor map, and the materials for their sessions with a minimal need for printed materials.
Make Green Choices
Sometimes the biggest step you can take toward sustainability is choosing sustainable locations and options. Perhaps look into venues that have already implemented green technology, like low-flow water fixtures or solar energy. Or, if you already have a venue, request green upgrades to the facility. Venues with their own food preparation facilities might reduce your event’s carbon footprint by eliminating the need for caterers to transport food to the venue. As you’re selecting your event’s location, ask about the venue’s sustainability.
Reduce Food-Related Waste
Events can produce tons of food waste, both in terms of eating utensils and food itself. Switch to biodegradable or compostable plates and flatware, or consider using reusable dishes that will be washed. Carefully plan out the amount of food you will need to purchase so you won’t over-order from your caterers. And if you have food left over after the event,instead of throwing it away.
Make It Easy for Attendees
Get your attendees in on greening your event by giving them options to help recycle, reuse, and reuse. Instead of a single combined trash receptacle, set up bins for recycling, composting, and landfill trash. This allows attendees to sort their trash and help reduce the amount of waste going into landfills. You can even offer incentives in the form of reusable items like water bottles for registering at certain levels. Then, at the event, instead of selling bottled water, you can provide water bottle filling stations and encourage attendees to use them. That alone will reduce the amount of plastics used and discarded at your event.
With climate change and environmental concerns becoming more and more urgent, it’s important for the events industry to take steps to making itself more sustainable. And every little bit helps, so do everything you can do to make your event green.
I am a freelance writer who enjoys dipping my toes into a wide variety of writing subjects. I have an M.A. in English but found that teaching wasn’t for me, so I’m applying my training to writing instead. I’ve been blogging for ten years and have written everything from book reviews to pop culture essays to business topics. In my spare time, I enjoy writing fiction, playing games, and learning new crafts. I live in Corvallis, Oregon, with my husband, daughter, and dog.
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