Event sustainability for conference organizers

Running a sustainable event is about more than having a recycling bin at the reception. Perhaps one of the very few silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic is the significant reduction of our environmental footprint. It reduced pollution by 30%. We’ve witnessed – some of us first-hand – nature’s amazing healing capacities. Conference organizers should keep the momentum going and strive to host sustainable events.

How to run a sustainable event

event sustainability

1. Make registration 100% digital

We are talking from the moment your attendees register for the event to the check-in at the conference desk. No paper whatsoever. Make it very clear in your pre-event correspondence that the participants do not need to print out their registration confirmations. Explain your goals of actively trying to improve the event sustainability.

2. Select a green catering service and event facility

When picking an event location, pay attention to their event sustainability practices – recycling and composting facilities, AV power requirements, etc. Many event facilities outsource catering to third parties. So make sure to check what their practices are as well. For example, food and drinks should be served on ceramic or glass plates and cups. No plastic forks or paper plates.

3. Minimize food waste

Did you know that between a third and a half of the food produced globally ends up getting wasted? Do not contribute to this problem. You can significantly improve your event’s sustainability practices by reducing the amount of food you serve by 10-20%. The reality is that you will still have more than enough for everyone. Furthermore, discuss with your catering company what actions they take to minimize food waste. For example, do they have a specific charity they work with where they donate leftover food?

4. Digitalize your conference materials

Creating a central information storage space that can be easily accessed by the participants eliminates the need to print out the materials. Whether you go with a mobile app, a shared folder, or another solution, think of creative and user-friendly ways to distribute conference materials digitally. To make sure the system works, you need to have strong free WiFi at the venue.

5. Encourage the participants to take public transport to commute to the event

Provide clear guidance on how to get to your venue via public transport. Encourage the participants to opt for a bus, a tram, or a bike as opposed to driving or taking a cab. How? That’s where you can get really creative. For example, offer free public transport tickets. You can also find partners among shared bike services and offer the participants a discount.

Remember, there are many ways to make your event more sustainable. You simply need to be flexible and creative. Even small things matter. Start changing the habits of your participants, educate them along the way, and make responsible decisions when selecting event partners.

Recommended reading: How to Host a Virtual Conference in 6 Easy Steps

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