As global warming causes more and more critical damages to our planet, event companies must go green to reduce the carbon print and improve the management of waste from their productions.
Indeed, bring together dozens or thousands of people in one place for a period of time can cause significant damages to the environment. According to MeetGreen, a typical five-day congress with 2,500 participants can waste up to 62 500 disposable plates, 87 500 napkins, 75 000 cups or glasses and 90 000 cans or bottles. This does not consider the communication tools used for conferences and promotion, greenhouse gas accumulated in the travel and the food waste. This mass therefore requires extensive preparations in order to have the least possible negative impact.
Unfortunately, some event organizers are reluctant to the idea of organizing an eco-responsible event, fearing a higher cost. Instead, such event handler can save a lot of money! Simply replace its supply of bottled water with reusable containers and distributors in bulk can save hundreds, or even thousands of dollars, depending on the size of the event in question. The Convention Industry Council, for its part, argues that re-use of the table place cards for a 1300 participant activity would save up to 975 USD.
Our agency firmly believes that the ability to offer eco-responsible events will become one of the most important factors to get a great rate of participation, satisfaction, and retention, and ensure the general success of future events. We offer several points for reflection and a wide range of advice to facilitate the adoption of the green path.
How to Start?
Greening your event should begin as soon as his ideation and planning phase. In this step, you must identify your goals and extent of your commitment to developing a list of criteria to be met by you and your suppliers. Also, prepare a series of questions to select suppliers that are swifter to answer your green ideology.
Select Local Eco-friendly Suppliers
You must now select products and services suppliers that are socially and environmentally responsible, while keeping in mind the importance of supporting local industries in order to give back to the host community.
Choose a hotel or convention centre known for its respect for the environment. For example, check if the location that you are interested in has an environmental policy or if it is certified by a program such as TheGreenKey®, Green LeafTM.
Confirm with the hotel or convention centre if drinks and the food served are grown locally. Encourage, whenever possible, organic foods.
Enjoy the popular green trends of the moment and make them part of your event! For example, more and more people are used to avoid eating meat on Monday to help the environment thanks to the #MeatFreeMonday movement. Check if the chosen location’s chief is inclined to create with you some interesting and eco-friendly menus!
If you are organizing an international event, choose fun and eco-responsible activities to visit the host city. For example, CVS Tours in Victoria, in British Columbia uses double-decker EV550 GreenPower electric buses. Many of these tours exist, just take the time to search for them!
Limit Your Waste Production
Meetings Strategies Worldwide stipulates that avoiding pre-fill glasses of water during the lunch hour for 3-days 2,200 participants event can save more than 1968 litres of water! Think about all these details, they can make a huge difference!
Avoid traditional event bags filled with useless paper and plastic. Consider virtual bags with electronic coupons, discount and offers and event literature. If you want to give a physical gift, make sure that it is eco-friendly and useful. For example, you could offer eco-friendly USB keys, including all the necessary material to enjoy the event. If you absolutely have to offer paper documentation, opt for eco-friendly paper (FSC, PEFC, etc.). You can also salvage the ID card strips, table numbers and signalization cards for future events! Also, be sure to produce them in a generic way for future use…
Favour the use of a mobile application that includes the conference program, speaker biographies, session summaries, and room and facilities plan. It would save many trees! You can also add a “green” game with points, prices and final standing to encourage your participants to make eco-responsible decisions like to take public transportation to go to the event, bring your own bottle of water, choose a vegetarian menu, etc.
Make sure that the recycling bins are placed in visible locations during the event and that the instructions are clear.
Rethink your centrepieces, they definitely could have more than one function. Ask yourself if they can be eaten, reused, planted or given. For example, a beautiful bowl of fresh and colourful fruits or vegetables could then be offered to a local food bank. Again, your centrepieces may be the ideal location for a wonderful dessert tray!
Limit Greenhouse Gas Emission and the Carbon Print of Your Event
Although obvious, we stress the importance of closing lights and equipment when not in use.
Also, opt for local products and services, in addition, to give back to the community, substantially decrease your carbon print.
Plan your event in a central location or near public transportation and do not hesitate to include information on public transportation in the registration package.
You can also encourage your participants to offset the environmental impact of their travel related to your event. For example, the Offsetters company helps consumers to invest their money in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere. This company was the official supplier to offset the carbon print of the Olympic and Paralympic Vancouver 2010 Winter Games.
To close, as well as helping to preserve our beautiful planet for future generations, eco-friendly reunions are also economically profitable, they help public relations and encourage other event planners to follow the example.
What are you waiting for?
Take the green path!
P.S.: This is a useful tool to help you.