Fun Facts and Simple Steps to Inspire Your Sustainable Event

Do your green event efforts seem like a chore? Forget that! Use these fun facts to help you shake the guilty motivation for going green and embrace your inner event sustainability solutionary to save money, help people and protect the planet.

Simple event sustainability tips

Reuse Banners and Graphics

If every meeting held in the USA reused one banner, it would keep enough vinyl from landfill to cover 760 American football fields (source).

Odds are right now, if you leave a banner at your conference it will be landfilled unless you take special steps to divert it. Few convention centers can recycle vinyl, and at best down-cycle it through donation programs. So if you must use banners, maximize your investment and reduce landfill by generically branding and collecting them for reuse. Ensure that banners are recycled or upcycled at the end of their useful life. According to Billboard Energy 10 large event banners upcycled into bags can eliminate 78,000 plastic bags!

Opt for a Water-wise Menu

Choosing chicken over beef for a 2,650 person banquet saves enough water to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool (source).

Every food choice has a water footprint, and some food takes more water to produce than others. Beef has 3.5 times the water footprint of chicken, and 8 times that of a vegetarian and starch option. Use this product gallery to evaluate the water impact of different menu alternatives, and choose water-wisely!

Choose Food Waste-Saavy Caterers

Food waste reduction, food donation and composting can reduce 40% of conference event waste (source: MeetGreen®).

Although it can vary by type of event, food waste is typically the largest portion of your waste stream, and the most expensive when waste is hauled by weight. In addition, with food prices expected to rise 10% in the USA in the coming year due to drought conditions affecting 80% of popular produce items, no one wants to be throwing out increasingly expensive food! The easiest way to reduce costs from food waste is by working with a caterer who has food waste reduction, donation and composting programs. For easy tips on cutting food waste from your event check out this EMB post.

Hybrid-ize

The average conference tradeshow guest can produce carbon emissions equivalent to burning two barrels of oil. A remote attendee can emit the equivalent of less than 1% of a barrel of oil (source).

And if the price of oil climbs, that’s a financial and environmental issue we all have to consider. Hybrid formats can reduce the carbon intensity of your events, enabling you to engage more people in your content and community at a significantly reduced impact.

Buy Local

Money spent at an independent local business generates 3.5 times more wealth for a host destination than buying from a non-local enterprise (source).

An example from my home region is pretty powerful: a 1% increase in spending at local businesses in British Columbia could create 3,100 more jobs and $94 million in annual wages for workers in the province. So consider various ways you can go local: food, printing, equipment rentals, temporary event staff, and decor. Your host destination will thank you!

Be of Service

If every meeting participant in the USA gave 30 minutes of volunteer service through an event, it would make 112.5 million hours of difference to organizations in need (source).

That amounts to an estimated value of US$2.5 billion. Track the value of volunteer activities from your event by measuring the time spent by participants, and multiplying this by the estimated value of volunteers in the state where your event is. You may be surprised by your legacy!

Bake in Offsets

If every event embedded a carbon offset fee into registration, the meetings industry could collectively contribute US$2 billion to investments in cleaner, renewable energy solutions (source).

There are some carbon impacts that are tough to avoid at events. Depending on the size and scale of your event, taking responsibility for these emissions can cost as little as the price of a cup or two of coffee. Contact a carbon offset provider to estimate your footprint and provide assistance in budgeting for an expense or sponsorship that works for you.

In Conclusion

Sometimes, the trick to making sustainable events easy is finding the spark that inspires you to take action. By acting in simple ways as a connected community, events have the power to make big change that betters the planet!

About The Author
Shawna McKinley
Shawna McKinley is a sustainability specialist who believes in the power of events to make the world a better place. She helps eventprofs take practical, smart steps through zero waste and carbon conscious choices that generate social good, business value, and happy event participants. Read more on her blog, Eventcellany.
Comment Policy Comments
  • Sarah Leysen

    Thank you for this article. I felt like I was the only one who paid special attention to managing the waste an event can produce. Two years i worked as an assistant waste manager for a festival in Belgium because all the garbage they had didn’t get recycled and just ended on the dump. By seperating all the waste (wood, paper, carpet, bottles, glass, cups, …) almost 90% of their waste was recycled and they even got paid for their garbage. You could save a lot of money just by separating all your garbage in what is recycable and what is not. Some big events are realizing that this is an important part of their event but the smaller events still have to follow. But creating awareness is the first step to reach those little events. I hope people will follow these tips and tricks, I know I will.

Julius Solaris
Editor, Julius Solaris

Plan awesome events & boost your career

How often should I update you?

Join over 60,000 subscribers that use EventMB to stay on top of How to's, Trends & Event Technology.