Sustainability is becoming a big trend in the event industry. The younger the audience you are targeting, the more emphasis you should place on environmental care. According to some studies, 76% of Generation Z are seriously concerned about topics such as sustainability and man’s impact on the planet.
Sustainability is also a popular trend in the corporate event segment. Companies strive to make their corporate events environmentally friendly, host green-themed events, and engage their employees in volunteering.
Making your event eco-friendly not just in talk, but in action, is not too hard. Reducing environmental impact does not mean spending a lot more from the event budget. In fact, eco-efficient event practices can even save you money. Below you’ll find 11 ideas on the changes you could make when planning your event to make it more eco-friendly.
1. Projectors instead of banners
Get rid of banners and eliminate the use of similar PVC-based products when setting up the venue and the stage. They can easily be replaced, for example, with projection mapping. It uses energy-efficient technology and can create truly fantastic visual effects.
In addition to environmental benefits, projection mapping and video projection can instantly transform the entire room to reflect a transition to the next part of the program or another presentation. Besides, the cost of this technology will not be much different from the cost of printing, transporting and setting up banner stands.
2. Apps instead of paper
On average, a typical conference attendee discards 1.89 kg of waste per day, most of which are paper handouts. It’s high time to admit that in this day and age, when information can be found with a few clicks, attendees no longer want to deal with paper. Money spent on printing brochures, venue maps, or product catalogs is just money going to waste - and an insult to the environment.
A mobile app is a much better way of finding your way around the event program or venue. Besides environmental benefits, a mobile app has a lot more to offer to attendees and organizers, including interactive features, efficient networking, convenient polls and surveys, and event gamification.
3. LED screens instead of traditional signage
You can further reduce the amount of paper used at your events by replacing various signage with LED displays. Like the mobile event app, screens can be easily updated to promptly notify attendees about any changes or provide up-to-the minute information.
4. Corn starch instead of plastic
Disposable plastic utensils for coffee breaks are evil, as anyone who has ever burned themselves trying to drink hot coffee out of a plastic cup will agree. And in addition to being inconvenient, plastic cups are bad for the environment. A good alternative for a coffee break would be real china, but this is not always feasible, in particular, at large-scale events with hundreds of attendees.
When real china is out of the question, you could use disposable plates and cups made of recycled or biodegradable materials, such as corn starch, bamboo, or sugar cane.
5. Food sharing instead of food waste
Any large-scale event will have a lot of food left over. You can prevent that from happening by using accurate ordering systems that are designed to carefully calculate food per person. Another way is asking your guests to preorder from a set menu ahead of time. If you still ordered too much food, just to be on the safe side, rescue any leftover food from going to waste by donating it to those in need, for example, through a food sharing app.
6. Fresh produce instead of sandwiches.
Another fresh -- in the direct sense of this word -- idea for an eco-friendly coffee break is to offer fresh veggies (served with dips and dressings) and seasonal fruits in place of traditional sandwiches. This will make the coffee break good for everyone’s health – and for the environment. To reduce costs even further, opt for locally sourced produce.
7. Living decor instead of dead flowers.
Floral arrangements are stunning and create a festive atmosphere at events. However, they are not eco-friendly, with most being thrown away after the event. A growing trend is living décor. These decorations can be simple, like potted plants or even grass. And hanging baskets with trailing plants can create a magical atmosphere of a living blooming garden.
8. Sun instead of power outlets
Any event needs energy, and the source of that energy matters. Use green sources to power your event, at least, to some extent. This way, you will promote new energy sources and showcase your environmental responsibility. Solar panels can be a great solution for open-air events. The energy they generate can be used to charge mobile devices or to power lighting fixtures.
Another possible source of green energy is attendees themselves. Promote healthy living with exercise bikes or treadmills that can power technology and create additional comfort in the relaxation area. It can be a smoothie bike that everyone can ride to whip up a smoothie while burning off some calories. Or hook up a bike to colorful lights to change the atmosphere when someone is cycling.
9. Good deeds instead of freebies
Free handouts are a common practice at conferences and festivals. Organizers often use event-branded merchandise as an incentive for attendees. While it’s nice to get a freebie, let’s be honest: all those branded t-shirts, mugs and USB sticks are hardly ever used in our daily lives and quickly turn into junk.
So why not use the money budgeted for freebies on something more important and useful? Philipp Morris International took an interesting approach to this idea at a staff conference. Attendees earned bonus points for each activity completed at the conference and then exchanged their bonus points for real trees that would be planted in a city park. The possibility to do something good was even a better incentive than a freebie. You can read more about that event here.
10. Hessian bags instead of plastic ones
Plastic bags are hazardous waste and should have been abolished a long time ago. You won’t need any packaging at all if you use a mobile app to provide all event information, and if you replace branded freebies with charitable contributions. Let attendees themselves choose the charity they would like to support instead of a swag bag. But if you absolutely can’t do without bags, at least have reusable ones, made out of natural or biodegradable materials
11. Digital surveys instead of paper questionnaires
Conducting polls and surveys and collecting feedback is an important part of any event. It’s hard to believe, but many event organizers are still using paper-based surveys on multiple pages to collect feedback about their event. Don’t be like that! There’s a much easier and environment-friendlier way: use online survey services, or polls and surveys functionality in your event app.