Can an Event be Truly Sustainable
In order to change we need to understand what that impact is. In terms of waste, events can result in the production of around 1.89kg of waste per person per day, with 1.16kg ending up in landfill. That means a three-day event that has 1000 visitors will produce 5670kg of waste (from meetgreen.com).
Waste is an area that should be considered right from the start of event planning. Images of attendees leaving a site filled with trash polluting some of the most beautiful outdoor landscapes have become all too common. Recycling at events can be challenging. Make it as easy as possible for your attendees to recycle and maintain the venue while still enjoying the event by placing lots of recycling bins around the venue to encourage patrons to help reduce waste. If you see leftover tents or products that can be reused, consider putting a donation together for your local charity. Learn to think outside of the box and create innovative ways to become sustainable.
A good recent example is the opportunity for events to go paperless. Many events no longer require a paper ticket or even a printed program. The growth in smart phones and tablets means that many people can now carry all that information with them on those devices. Food and drink are some of the most critical areas of an event. If you know your event will have a high waste rate from the consumption of drinks (coffee, alcohol, water, etc) then consider alternatives to single use non-recyclable cups. There are now several reusable or biodegradable options available.
” Learn to think outside of the box and create innovative ways to become sustainable.”
Events are notorious for wasting food. Stop throwing that food out! Get an accurate guest count and finalise the amount needed with your caterer or food stalls. Don’t overdo it. If you do end up with lots of leftover food consider donating it to those who need the food. This is a lot easier to do than it once was with local programs available in many areas. Using renewable energy sources with efficient system design and the latest in technology can help cut power usage and minimise your footprint. Switching to LED lighting and lower power efficiency systems will reduce your power usage during the event.
It is also worthwhile remembering that you do not have to do everything at once. Plan to become more sustainable over time by introducing a new sustainability feature each year.
Finally, remember to communicate what you are doing with your employees, volunteers and patrons. Most people will appreciate your efforts but it always helps if they feel they are part of the sustainability solution, too.