How can businesses create more sustainable events?


Given the rate at which the event industry is growing, it has become more important than ever to discuss its environmental impact.

According to MeetGreen, a typical five-day event hosting 2,500 guests consumes over 62,500 disposable plates, 75,000 cups, 87,500 napkins, and 90,000 cans or bottles. The heavy transportation arrangements and plastic waste can lead to greenhouse gas emission, which affects the environment in the worst possible way.

If you’re a business owner, playing your part in curbing this problem is vital. Fortunately, hosting environmentally friendly events doesn’t have to be challenging, and it can actually pave the way towards developing innovative methods of hosting your business events in the future. Discover our top tips below for creating successful and sustainable events with ease.

Organise Paperless Events

Going paperless doesn’t cost you extra money — in fact, it can help you save unnecessary expense on printing and materials whilst also reducing the environmental impact of an event by a considerable margin. Before organising your event, it can be helpful to make a list of all the activities that involve paperwork. Once you’ve prepared this, the next step is to see which activities can be digitised.

Whether it’s announcing your event, gauging interest, or booking tickets, there is often a digital solution. These alternatives can even offer the opportunity to engage your audience more than a paper invite. For example, the inclusion of video can help to engage and create buzz around the event before it takes place as well as creating an online community of attendees through a mobile ticket platform.

Digital solutions can include sending invitations by email, announcing your event across your social media channels, and allowing attendees to register their interest using a mobile app or online service. With individuals increasingly committed to paperless and sustainable alternatives, not only will you save money, but you’ll also demonstrate your dedication to the environment, which can considerably benefit your business.

Monitor Your Carbon Footprint

From air-conditioning and extensive transportation to plastic consumption and food waste, there are many event activities that increase your carbon footprint. To help reduce your event’s impact on the environment, recycle and reduce as much as possible. Put food waste and recycling bins in areas of high footfall and clearly signpost them.

When it comes to catering, aim to source sustainable food packaging companies where possible using reusable cutlery and plates, or eco-friendly items such as bamboo cutlery and biodegradable straws. You can even serve local food from ethical businesses to your guests to keep your carbon footprint in check and support the local neighbourhood.

Choose Your Event Caterer Carefully

In a similar vein, if you’re going to serve meals, snacks and drinks at your event, it’s crucial to use dinnerware that’s eco-friendly. Most caterers prefer to have plastic items, as they’re cheap and easily available. But plastic pollution is causing significant harm to our oceans and, by extension, the planet. If using reusable dinnerware isn’t an option, choose event caterers that use locally produced recyclable items and check for certified recycling symbols to ensure your choices aren’t having a negative impact. Doing this won’t just help the environment, it could save you money, too! Some recyclable items may be able to be reused or sold, and it could pay dividends to reduce or eliminate your plastic consumption now, with the recently announced harsher plastic tax and further clampdowns expected in the future.

Waste Not Want Not

The waste created from events can be considerable when you take into consideration not only the catering but the signage, merchandise and handouts. As well as going paperless, avoid providing too many branded items that guests are likely to already own such as luggage tags and pens. Instead provide eco-friendly merchandise made from recycled or natural materials such as reusable coffee cups. You can also save leftover food from being wasted by donating to a local charity or homeless shelter after your event, just make sure to check what they are able to take.

Carpool Instead of Grabbing a Cab

If you’re expecting guests to arrive at your chosen venue from other parts the city or country, consider implementing a carpool scheme or encouraging guests to share cabs. This will help to minimise pollution and reduce your event’s transportation cost, as well as help to keep the environment clean.

Hosting sustainable events needn’t cost you the earth. All it takes is a commitment to more careful consideration during the event organisation process. By sourcing locally produced food, cutting down on your waste and plastic use, carpooling and relying on technology for tasks that generally require heavy paper usage, you can create a more sustainable event without compromising success — and you’ll likely find it’s a lot easier to do than you think. If you are struggling to pull everything together, you might also benefit from consulting an events management agency, which will be able to help you adopt a sustainable approach.

Harriette Wilmoth, Marketing Manager, Banks Sadler
Banks Sadler is an award-winning full-service events management agency that delivers corporate events across the globe for large brands.