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Sustainable Event Planning: Best Practices for Eco-Friendly International Conferences
Author Aoife O'Donnell
Date June 24, 2024
Category Event Management

Sustainability has become a guiding principle for the events industry. With the global community’s growing awareness of environmental issues, there’s a pressing need to rethink how we organise large-scale events ensuring we are meeting sustainable best practices. International conferences and events present both challenges and opportunities for implementing these practices. So, in this blog, we will share some of the top best practises to consider and demonstrate how making an event sustainable does not diminish its grandeur or wow appeal.   

 

Venue Selection: Venues are coming under scrutiny from buyers for their sustainable impact. Sustainability is increasingly becoming both a decision-making factor in the buying process but also a marketing opportunity. Luxury brands such as the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and The Doyle Collection,  have developed sustainable programs that are great for the planet but even better for their brand, in line with the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals focusing on finding innovative ways to minimise waste reduction, such as sourcing local produce to reduce carbon footprints and implementing the use of renewable energy.

Another element to selecting a sustainable venue is considering the public transport connections. By reducing attendees’ reliance on private vehicles to attend your event, you can significantly help to lower carbon emissions.

Recently, the Eventcomms Agency team supported a conference in Copenhagen with over 250 attendees. Villa Copenhagen was chosen as the venue because sustainability was a key priority for the client, and the hotel exceeded expectations in this regard.

Instead of offering bottled water in the rooms, the hotel provided carafes and glasses for tap water, as Denmark’s tap water is perfectly safe to drink. Additionally, the hotel avoided single-use items like slippers and provided recyclable toiletries. Its proximity to the train station also made public transport from the airport a convenient option.

Selecting venues with green certifications from organisations like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) or BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), Green Tourism and Greengage, ensure that the venues have been in some way reviewed or certified, ensuring that sustainability is more than just a marketing tool, instead is implemented in their operational activities.

 

Waste Reduction and Management:

As you can imagine, events can often generate a substantial amount of waste, from disposable utensils to promotional materials. Sustainable conferences are flipping the script by embracing zero-waste initiatives.  These can be implemented by using reusable or compostable dining ware, providing each attendee with a reusable water bottle for the duration of the event, setting up recycling stations and refillable water stands, and partnering with local organisations to donate leftover food to those in need. By adopting these green practices, events can significantly reduce their environmental impact and promote a culture of sustainability.

We recently partnered with a supplier that offers recyclable name badges. Event planners simply need to request attendees to return their badges at the end of the conference, taking a significant step toward meeting sustainability goals. Additionally, the badges were printed onsite, removing the waste of pre-printed badges for no-shows.

 

Digitalisation and Virtual Components:

Digital technology has completely transformed event planning, giving planners tons of eco-friendly options. By adding virtual elements to international events, attendees can join remotely through live streaming, online forums, and interactive apps. This cuts down on long-distance travel and significantly reduces the carbon emissions from transportation. Plus, going digital makes admin tasks easier and reduces paper usage, helping events go paperless.

 

Eco-Friendly Invites and Marketing:

Speaking of paperless, event planners are also reimagining traditional invitation and marketing strategies. Digital invitations and promotional materials not only reduce paper waste but also offer a more convenient and cost-effective means of communication. One other approach is the use of seed paper invites, which are embedded with seeds that can be planted after use. These innovative invitations not only minimise waste but also contribute to the environment by growing into plants, leaving a legacy. By embracing eco-friendly invites and marketing, your sustainable conference will make a positive impression and set a green example from the start.

Watch our video on the benefits of Event Apps here!

 

Sustainable and locally sourced catering:

Prioritising locally sourced, seasonal, and organic ingredients, to your event supports regional farmers and reduces the carbon footprint associated with food transportation. Some venues even serve produce grown on their very own estates, where in-house caterers create delicious seasonal menus.  Opting for plant-based menus or incorporating meat-free options can further reduce the environmental impact of food production, as plant-based diets generally have lower greenhouse gas emissions. By integrating these sustainable choices, your event can promote healthier eating habits and showcase a commitment to environmental stewardship.

At Eventcomms Agency, we find Many Danish restaurants design their menus around what is currently in season. This means they rely on ingredients that are at their peak in terms of freshness and flavour, which results in better-tasting dishes. Seasonal cooking reduces the need for importing out-of-season ingredients, thereby cutting down on transportation emissions while feeding attendees fresh and delicious food.

 

Solar Power and Lighting Options:

Aiming to decrease energy consumption during events is a significant consideration for event planners. One way is by incorporating solar power panels powered by the sun to be used for all lighting, sound systems, and other electrical equipment. Another is the use of LED lighting fixtures, known for their energy efficiency and longevity. They are replacing traditional incandescent bulbs, further reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. By embracing solar power and energy-efficient lighting options, events can reduce their carbon footprint.

 

Reusable Decor:

Events wouldn’t be complete without branded or themed decor and furnishings. However, many decorations are often used once and then discarded, which is what we want to avoid. So, how can we make sure we are decorating our events more sustainably without sacrificing glamour?

Sustainable event planners are adopting reusable decor solutions, rather than relying on single-use decorations. Organisers opt for durable, high-quality decor items that can be repurposed for future events or rented from specialised vendors. For some of our events, we have sourced potted centrepieces from local garden centres. After the event, these are returned for composting. Additionally, we use backdrops that can be repeatedly rebranded by simply washing them.

Therefore, you can still create stunning event spaces that are both beautiful and environmentally responsible at the same time.

 

Participation in Sustainable Groups:

Many companies are joining sustainable groups or initiatives that promote environmental conservation and social responsibility. One example is Trees for All a non-profit organisation who are dedicated to fighting climate change and improving biodiversity through reforestation and sustainable forest management. They focus on planting trees and restoring forests to create a healthier and more sustainable planet. Some event organisations pledge to plant a tree for every event they organise. This initiative not only helps the environment but also enhances the event’s sustainability credentials.

Sustainable event planning is changing the game, showing us how to host amazing, eco-friendly events without losing any of the fun or detail. By embracing these best practices, we can help create a greener future.

By teaming up and staying committed to being environmentally conscious, the events industry is proving it can drive positive change around the world. As we look ahead, let’s make sustainability a core part of event planning, ensuring our events leave a positive impact for generations to come.

If you would like Eventcomms to help with your next event, contact us today!

 

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