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A Greener Tomorrow: 5 steps for a more sustainable conference event

Sustainability is no longer a buzzword; it’s an urgent call to action, pervading every industry, including event planning. Amid escalating environmental concerns, ensuring sustainable practices for conference events has become paramount. Here are some effective steps your events business can take to reduce your environmental footprint…

1. Digitalize Events and Operations

One straightforward method to reduce waste is by digitalising event materials. For instance, conference attendees traditionally receive a host of printed materials, such as event programs, brochures, and maps. However, a digital event app can replace these physical items, eliminating waste and making the information more accessible. Furthermore, employ digital marketing strategies, like email marketing and social media, to promote the event instead of physical invitations and posters.

2. Sustainable Venues and Suppliers

Choose venues that are committed to sustainability. Look for properties with green certification, energy-efficient lighting and HVAC systems, recycling and composting programs, and responsible water usage. Consider venues close to public transportation to minimize carbon emissions from individual cars.

When it comes to catering, collaborate with suppliers who prioritize local, organic, and fair-trade products. Such practices not only support local businesses and economies, but also significantly reduce the carbon emissions associated with transporting goods over long distances.

3. Minimize Single-Use Items

Plastic waste poses a significant challenge to sustainability. To tackle this, opt for reusable or compostable dishware, flatware, and glasses at your conferences. Encourage attendees to bring their own water bottles and coffee cups, and provide refilling stations to prevent single-use plastic bottle waste. Similarly, opt for decorations and conference swag that can be reused or recycled, such as tote bags made from recycled materials.

4. Carbon Offsetting

No matter how sustainable your practices, some emissions are inevitable. That’s where carbon offsetting comes in. This involves calculating your event’s carbon footprint and investing in environmental projects to balance it out. These projects could be reforestation, renewable energy, or community-based initiatives. Offering attendees the option to purchase carbon offsets for their travel to the conference can be a powerful tool for environmental stewardship.

5. Communicate and Educate

Transparency is essential in sustainability efforts. Be open about your sustainable practices and encourage attendees to join in. This could be through signage at recycling stations, push notifications on your event app, or even a segment in your opening remarks. Your conference is not just an opportunity to share knowledge on a topic; it’s a chance to educate attendees about sustainability and inspire them to make greener choices in their own lives.

Planning a sustainable conference is not an insurmountable challenge, but a series of thoughtful decisions and strategic partnerships.

As an event planner, you have the unique opportunity to set a green example and influence a wide range of people. The steps outlined above are just the starting point. Sustainability is an ongoing journey, with every small step making a significant difference. The time to start that journey is now.

Are you looking for sustainable venues and suppliers for your events? The Event Organisers Summit can help!

Image by Steve Cliff from Pixabay


Stuart O'Brien

All stories by: Stuart O'Brien