Green is the new black as Corporate Social Responsibility tops agendas.
Hosting a green event revolves around one simple underlying rule: “reduce-re-use-recycle.” Put simply, a green event is one that is hosted in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. The objective of a green event is to reduce the consumption of natural resources, keep waste to a minimum and limit impact on global climate.
Meetings, conferences, expos, trade shows and other events are some of the largest producers of waste and greenhouse gas emissions in the world. According to MeetGreen, during a typical five day conference, 2,500 attendees will use 62,500 plates 87,500 napkins, 90,000 cans or bottles. In that way, event organisers have a duty of care to limit the negative impact that event hosting has on the environment. But by following green practices, event planners can significantly reduce this damage.
By following a code of conduct outlining the proper practices, any event organiser can host a green event.
The code of conduct for green events
Venue: Select a venue that supports your green goals and has an environmental policy. Choosing hotels and suppliers with green policies and practices will automatically improve the ‘eco-friendliness’ of your event. Check whether the venue has an eco-procurement policy that gives preference to sourcing and purchasing local, environmentally friendly produce and services. Choose a venue with an in-house recycling program for waste stream such as glass, paper, plastics and organic waste and encourage its use. Also, pick a venue that is easily accessible by public transport an encourage delegates to use it.
Leverage technology: Rather than send hundreds of invitations, complete with inserts, create a website with all the details of your event. Sending out email invitations rather that printing them can minimise paper use. Also invite delegates to join the event by video conferencing. Advanced communication technology enables you to reach more people, whilst reducing business travel and energy costs.
Transport: Transportation is one of the largest contributors to air pollution and greenhouse emissions. Encourage your delegates to take public transport by offering to refund their train or bus tickets. When organising taxis try to group together people who need to be picked up or dropped off at the same station and encourage taxi sharing.
Event Materials: Go paperless! Try to avoid printed hand-outs and if it’s essential then use recycled or eco-friendly paper. Better still, upload all your conference material on a USB stick to reduce paper and encourage the reuse. If you must print, use double-sided printing for all collateral and meeting related material.
Decorations: Offer to buy decorations from previously used events when they’re no longer needed. This not only saves on cost, it also stops everything being sent to landfill.
Recycle: Think before you print all those reams of conference material. Can name badges, folders, labels and other stationery be saved and re-used another time? Can unwanted papers and brochures be donated to schools or charities? Use reusable dishes, utensils, tablecloths, and napkins that can be washed instead of being thrown away. Also go the extra mile by establishing a compost program for all food and waste. Composting can reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and subsequently reduce methane emissions. Do this by requesting recycle bins from the venue.
Source: Choose your catering and giveaways wisely. Use caterers that are in close proximity to the meeting to reduce the carbon footprint of transporting foods. Think Fairtrade, local, organic, in season when it comes to refreshments. Use filtered instead of bottled water, and ensure your delegate bags and giveaways are from sustainable and ethical sources.
Budget with a conscience: Allocate some of your budget to offsetting carbon emissions from your event. Make a tangible contribution to society by making a donation to a favourite charity or get your delegates involved in a local environmental project as part of their team building exercise
Donate: Rather than have caterers bin leftovers, get in touch with a local homeless shelter and offer to donate the food. It not only saves on wastage, it also helps those less fortunate.
There are many advantages to developing a greening plan, including cost saving opportunities in both the long and short term, and building a positive reputation through creating awareness around the need to reduce negative impacts of hosting events. By utilising ecologically friendly ways you will add charm and character to an event which will be sure to make it one remember. Furthermore you can set the bar and encourage other companies to go green.
Remember, using a green approach when hosting an event is good for you, good for the planet, and good for your budget too.