27 Jun Ten Ways to Create Successful Sustainable Events
The events industry makes significant impacts on the environment in many ways, including jet fuel emissions, food waste, single-use materials, and more. In today’s world, where environmental consciousness is on the rise, it’s crucial for event planners and organizers to mitigate those issues wherever possible. By integrating sustainable practices into all aspects of event planning and production, organizers can contribute to a greener and more socially responsible world.
Venue Selection: The first step in organizing a sustainable event is to choose a venue committed to sustainability. Look for venues that have environmental initiatives in place, such as recycling, composting, and the use of renewable energy sources. An important certification to look out for is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which signifies a commitment to green building practices.
Travel: Encourage attendees to minimize their carbon footprint by carpooling, using public transportation, or biking to the event. Consider providing shuttle buses or arranging for group transportation to reduce the number of vehicles on the road and promote eco-friendly travel options.
Catering: Select caterers who prioritize sustainability by using locally sourced, seasonal, and organic food options. Opt for compostable or biodegradable plates, cups, and utensils instead of disposable plastic to reduce waste generated by the event.
Waste Reduction: Implement recycling and compost bins throughout the event space to encourage attendees to dispose of waste properly. Minimize paper use by providing digital versions of event programs and marketing materials. Be mindful of accessibility needs that may require the use of physical materials.
Energy Conservation: Utilize energy-efficient lighting and equipment, such as LED lights and Energy Star-rated appliances. Make sure to turn off unnecessary lights and equipment when not in use to conserve energy.
Water Conservation: Encourage attendees to conserve water by providing water stations instead of bottled water. Choose venues with low-flow faucets and toilets to minimize water usage.
Green Giveaways: Consider offering sustainable and eco-friendly giveaways, such as reusable water bottles or tote bags made from recycled materials. This not only promotes sustainability but also provides attendees with useful and environmentally friendly items.
Donations: Instead of letting leftover food, flowers, or decorations go to waste, donate them to local hospitals, charities, or nonprofit organizations. This not only reduces waste but also supports the community.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: When planning your event, prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion. Ensure gender balance and pay equity when selecting speakers and entertainment. Consider working with vendors that are owned or led by minorities, women, or gender-diverse individuals.
Economic Impact: Events can support economic growth by purchasing directly from micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises. Encourage event attendees to support local businesses by providing maps and descriptions of nearby restaurants and shops. Consider buying gifts from social enterprises or bringing in food trucks for event functions.
Recently, members of Team JDC attended a sustainability event hosted at Freeman’s Alexandria, Va. offices. Discussion panelists highlighted that many organizers are striving to achieve sustainability, but they often lack a clear path forward. The conversation shed light on the shift from circularity to regenerative sustainability. While circularity focuses on minimizing waste and optimizing resource use within existing systems, regenerative sustainability goes beyond this by actively restoring and replenishing ecosystems and communities. It recognizes the interconnectedness of ecological and social systems and aims to create solutions that benefit both.
Creating successful sustainable events requires a holistic approach that considers the environmental, social, and economic impacts of every aspect of event planning and production. By incorporating sustainable practices such as venue selection, travel arrangements, catering choices, waste reduction, energy and water conservation, green giveaways, donations, diversity and inclusion, and supporting local economies, event organizers can contribute to a greener and more responsible future. Moreover, by embracing regenerative sustainability, event planners can go beyond minimizing harm to actively fostering positive impacts on the environment and society as a whole. Let’s make sustainability a priority in every event we organize and play our part in creating a better world for future generations.
For more information on making your event more sustainable, feel free to contact Kara Dao at [email protected] or by phone at 240-770-1831.
Kara Dao is the Chief Operating Officer at JDC Events. She has a degree from George Mason University and over 2 decades of leadership and executive experience in the events industry. Kara is certified by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, has her Certification in Exhibition Management (CEM) and has served as a Mentor for the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE).