Are you interested in learning more about how to incorporate sustainability practices in the events you manage? Here are 18 ideas to get you started!
Over the last two decades, corporate responsibility around sustainability has evolved in the meetings and events industry. Now more than ever, we are aware of the impact our roles can leave on the environment, and it's a cause BCD Meetings & Events is passionate about. There are various best practices that can increase our positive contributions to global sustainability. Here are 18 things event professionals can do now to help create sustainability around meetings and events.
Sustainable Event Planning:
18 Things To Do Now
- Add sustainability as an agenda item to internal event planning meetings. Use this time to discuss client needs related to sustainability, and share resources, ideas and challenges.
- Adapt a sustainability preference clause into request for proposals and contract templates that requires vendors provide their sustainability policy and best practices. Use this information in decision making and planning.
- Think of two or three supplies that are frequently used at events. Signs, name badges and paper products are a good place for organizers to start. Ask suppliers to research a more sustainable option for each and shift purchasing to make the green choice standard, so customers have to opt-out of the responsible choice.
- Consider adding a CSR event to your event to provide opportunities for attendees to mingle and also give back to the community. Read about how we helped weave CSR into one of our client's programs here.
- When planning for an event, try looking for venues that are already implementing sustainable practices into their space. Whether that’s through the way they reduce their carbon footprint, use renewable energy sources, or reducing on-site waste.
- Eliminate dates and locations from event branding. Making your signage more generic gives you the opportunity to reuse it in the future and prevent creating unnecessary waste from signage.
- Use technology to reduce the creation of waste. If possible, consider using QR codes or other digital resources to share information that would normally be printed on paper and tossed out. It’s friendlier for the environment and also makes it easier for attendees to “carry” materials with them throughout the event.
- Think about using a hybrid or virtual format where possible to both extend the reach of your program while reducing the carbon footprint of attendees who would normally travel to a physical event location.
- Create a “Stop Doing List” for sustainability. Make it simple. List things to phase out that create waste, for example.
- Organic waste and potentially recyclable goods like paper, plastic, and glass are often thrown in the trash. Look for venues that implement a recycling and composting program for waste disposal or develop one yourself.
- Identify one or more sustainability topics to learn about. Possible subjects might include human trafficking, accessibility or climate change. Designate 30 minutes a week to read up on that topic and how it applies events.
- Select one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and brainstorm one way to address it at an event. Have more than one recommendation? Summarize ideas and share them as an internal resource.
- Research and include green travel tips on the event website, including how to take public transport to and from the venue.
- Let people know when event products are sustainable by communicating verified recycled content, organic and fair-trade credentials on the items themselves.
- Prepare a few sustainability fun facts to share via social media. Please borrow any from the BCD Meetings & Events Green White Paper.
Incentivize & Reward
- Host a Sustainability Happy Hour for an event team with the purpose of generating creative ideas for an event sustainability plan. Consider providing organic food or local craft beverages to promote attendance and stimulate discussion.
- Create an incentive that rewards team members who take action to support sustainability goals. It could be simple, such as a thank you gift card, green team wrap party or post-event merit awards. Or recognition could be more formal, such as written endorsements in employee reviews.
- If you’re providing swag bags or gifts to attendees, try and use sustainable packaging and products. Consider using a reusable lunch box as the container for your gifts and placing sustainable water bottles, metal straws, or other eco-friendly products inside.