Event sustainability is an issue that has gained prominence over the last couple of years. This is because events leave a large carbon footprint, owing to aspects such as carbon emissions from travel, energy consumption and massive waste production. 

According to a research by MeetGreen and Event Manager Blog, in a 3-day physical event of 1000 people, approximately 5,670 Kg of waste is generated (which is equivalent to the weight of 4 compact cars) and 530 metric tons of CO2e is produced (akin to 1,233 barrels of oil consumption). 

But if there is anything COVID-19 has taught us, it’s that the resilience and sustainability of the events industry depends on each one of its stakeholders and their choices. 

When travel bans are lifted post the pandemic, measures for maintaining social distancing and sanitation standards will need to be implemented. This means that the impact per person will be much higher. In fact, the return of the attendee count to pre-pandemic levels will lead to a higher resource requirement and consequently an even higher wastage. Hence the need for changing traditional event practices has become even more pressing.

There are multiple ways in which you as an event planner can drastically minimize the negative environmental impact of your event, while encouraging your stakeholders to do the same. Here are the major ones:

Shift to a Virtual or Hybrid Format Using a Hybrid Event Solutions Software

The pandemic has really put virtual events into the limelight, by catalyzing their widespread adoption. It has also made us realize their potential as a viable alternative to in-person events, especially when it comes to achieving sustainability goals.

Hosting an event virtually (or even in a hybrid format for that matter), is undeniably greener and more sustainable than everyone turning up to a physical venue.

Ebook on Virtual Events

For instance, when hosting virtual trade shows, you don’t need to consider the logistics of getting the attendees to the venue, nor worry about the amount of waste generated or the energy consumed to run the event.

But in the case where hosting fully online trade shows and conferences is not possible, consider a hybrid event model. 

There are two ways to set this up. Either you can have a single event with two components (virtual and in-person) or you can create regional event clusters that act like hybrid hubs. In both cases, an efficient hybrid event solutions software is the key for keeping each event component interconnected. 

One of the major environmental impacts of events is the excessive use of paper. By using event technology, you can pull off a paper-free policy and prevent waste produced by event collateral like event invitations, brochures and business cards.

You can go fully paperless and digitalize various tasks by:

  • Setting up online registration and follow-ups.
  • Emailing event invitations, instead of sending out physical copies.
  • Creating virtual tickets that can be scanned right from the attendees’ phones, instead of printing out badges.
  • Uploading informational documents onto the app for the corresponding virtual booth of your online trade show component. (This is a great alternative to throw-away flyers.)
  • Offering digital visibility to sponsors, as a substitute for expensive outdoor banners.
  • Providing an interactive online schedule of the event’s sessions, instead of physical handouts. 
  • Sharing general documents (like maps, travel and lodging info. and other even-related information) via the online event feed of the hybrid event platform
  • Scheduling push-notifications and SMS through the hybrid event solutions software, for communicating general event updates and last-minute changes.
  • Facilitating exchange of e-business cards to connect your stakeholders within a single app.
  • Offering digital swag like e-books, e-coupons, digital gift cards etc. rather than physical swag bags.
  • Taking an online survey of delegates to collect their feedback, as a replacement for distributing printed forms. 

Vet Venues for Sustainability

For the physical component of your hybrid event, select a venue that has a ‘green certification’. The best way to know if the venues you are considering follow sustainable practices is to check if they are ISO 20121, LEED or EMAS certified

Locations with the above certifications follow the set environmental guidelines and take active steps to keep their carbon footprint in check, along with proper resource and waste management.

While following such practices is important, an even more essential aspect is the venue’s infrastructure. Look for venues that have a sustainable architecture, including (but not limited to) solar panel installations, green roofs, water-conservation fixtures, energy-efficient lighting appliances and efficient heating, cooling and ventilation systems.

Take your location search a step further by scouting for technologically advanced eco-conscious venues. They have additional features, like a designated recycling programme, automatic lighting system, and electronic signage that reduces the need for paper flyers. Such aspects can really elevate the sustainability component of your event. 

Decarbonize Transportation and Accommodation

Did you know that event-related travel can be responsible for up to 80% of an event’s carbon dioxide emissions?

Clearly, it is the biggest contributor to your event carbon footprint, particularly if you are bringing in attendees from different locations.

One way to reduce this impact is to pick event venues that are centrally located and accessible by public transport or walkable routes. Consider sharing a detailed map consisting of bus and train routes with your attendees, for their convenience. Again, that’s where a hybrid event solutions software comes in handy because you have your own event app with a dedicated event feed for disseminating information to them.

Incentivizing car-pooling or offering a shuttle service as an alternative, is another great way to reduce your contribution to C02 emissions.

Additionally, you can make a huge difference by working in sync with a local or national policy that promotes the adoption of electric vehicles and other zero-emission vehicles, especially for airport transfers.

Sourcing local goods and ordering in bulk is also a good eco-friendly practice to implement. 

When it comes to accommodation, you can reduce transportation needs by picking a hotel that is close to where the event is being hosted. Even better if you choose a venue that can double as lodging.

Also, just like with the event venue, select hotel(s) that follow green policies and practices.

Conclusion

The events industry is at a tipping point at the moment, wherein you can really do things outside the box to demonstrate digital superiority and show that you are an eco-conscious brand.

The journey to hosting green events starts with understanding how you can incorporate eco-friendly practices throughout all its stages, in order to minimize the negative impact on the environment. 

Consider setting SMART goals to track, measure and improve your progress. 

Remember to clearly communicate your sustainable orientation to your attendees, vendors and partners and involve them in the measures that you take.

But while making incremental changes in your event is good, when you have an option to go all-in then why not? Take your event hybrid, if not virtual, and leverage your hybrid event solutions software to level up your event’s sustainability. 

And who knows, maybe this could eventually become your unique selling point!

Looking for a reliable hybrid event solutions partner to make your event sustainable? Book a demo with us now.