Go green: designing sustainable events in 2019

Updated: Jun 4, 2019

When you start the year in Veganuary, it’s clear that people are being more conscientious about the choices they make and the way they live their lives, and it’s certainly shifted our focus in the world of events too.

How to make an event “greener” is quickly becoming even more important when it comes to our customers’ objectives. When you’re pitching giant-sized floating balloons and you’re expecting the question “are they sustainable?”, you know the answer has to be yes, and yes of course, in 2019, biodegradable balloons do exist (phew!).

Monday 22 April marked Earth Day, so we’re sharing a few of our ideas on how we can help drive sustainability in Events, and creatively too. Here’s just a few of them:

Getting there: first things first, there’s no denying transport and how your delegates will get to your event will impact your event’s carbon footprint. Knowing where your delegates are travelling from and picking a venue that is closest to the majority of your intended audience will lessen travel miles. A venue that has great accessibility to public transport will also help, and you could also encourage carpooling via a Registration website that has the capabilities to help pair “car poolers”. We’ve even arranged a prize-draw for VIP tickets to an in-demand event for those who did opt for car-pooling to make it all the more appealing.

Choose a venue that has sustainability credentials: that’s a big tick straight away. The Crystal on London’s Victoria Dock is a strong contender if it fits the brief, as an all-electric building using solar power and a ground source heat pump to generate its own energy. Another idea is, the East Midlands Conference Centre, which has an onsite Orchard, a place for your delegates to plant trees, which not only helps the environment but provides a cost-effective team build solution along the way too!

Source your suppliers wisely: From AV to catering there are plenty of ways your suppliers can contribute to the sustainability of your event. For example, choosing a catering solution that uses locally grown, organic, fair trade products is one way to go “greener” throughout your event. You could also look to design the menu with your catering supplier, opting for vegetarian foods to help to reduce carbon emissions.

A focus on food reducing waste: One of the biggest contributors to consider at a sustainable event is food waste. To cater for this element, we’ve worked extensively with one particular customer where we’ve looked at portion control, designed menus that factor in minimal food waste (long gone are the days of the side salad), and for one particular event, whilst it required a lot of pre-planning, we’ve even done menu pre-selection via our delegate registration website. Then at the end of the day, if there’s food leftover, having designed the menu in the right way, you can always use a charity to collect unused food.

Whilst this is just a quick summary, you can find out more about reducing food waste at an event!

Environmentally friendly name badges: lucky for us, there are more and more options cropping up, from seed paper name badges that enable delegates to grow flowers from them post event, lanyards made from bamboo, or even more hardwearing, plastic name badges that are biodegradable – it is now possible to make sure that wear one-time name badge is eco-friendly too.

People power: you can reduce your carbon footprint by using your delegates to power up. This was seen at last year’s Coachella festival, where in the energy zone, you could charge your mobile phone using a seesaw. Well in the UK, there are bikes available to hire for events that enable you to power screens!

Go paperless: there’s an app for that. By using an app for your event, you can invite and register your delegates, as well as give them all the information they need both pre-event and onsite to ensure every element of your event is paper free!

Say no to plastic: Whether it’s a marketing giveaway such as a PowerBank or water bottles that are required, always say no to plastic – think “save the turtles” – we’re all on that vein anyway, right?! After all, you can now get your hands on PowerBanks made from Bamboo, and Bamboo of course, is a super sustainable option as it requires no fertiliser and self-regenerates from its own roots, so it doesn't need to be replanted!

Staying hydrated: What about giving your delegates branded, stainless steel water bottles as a giveaway, and placing water taps around your event. It’s certainly the way that Glastonbury is going. And if that’s not the right solution, Cano water (water in a can) or glass-bottled water are all much better than the plastic alternative. There are also some fantastic brands out there such as Belu, who do sell glass-bottled water and invest 100% of their net profits into WaterAid, the international development charity determined to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation!

Lastly, never forget the recycling bins and compost bins (where possible) too!

Further reading