We already know that sustainability is set to dominate events in 2019. But what does that actually mean? Whose responsibility is it to ensure that an event is less wasteful and more considerate to our surroundings?
As this blog is mainly read by event organisers and planners, we’ll focus on the steps you can take to ensure that your events are as conscientious as possible.
Here are our top 7 ways that event organisers can make events more environmentally-friendly:
In an ideal world, every attendee at your event would walk to the venue. But we know that’s not realistic for large festivals or business conferences.
Instead, consider how you’d limit the number of cars required to transport your attendees. This is a fine balancing act to achieve as any method you choose shouldn’t inconvenience your visitors. If it does, they may not come at all.
For instance, telling visitors that there will be no parking spaces is a great way of cutting road traffic, but you’ll also seem like you’re putting up barriers to participation.
Instead, highlight the great public transport available. Make deals with local bus and train companies for cheaper tickets. Hire your own coaches to ferry people to and from the event.
2 Go Paperless
Think about the paper that you currently use at the event and ask yourself whether you could do without it.
The best example is in ticketing. For years, paper or card tickets were the norm and there wasn’t a viable alternative. But now, many ticket suppliers will ONLY send digital versions of their tickets.
Another example is the communication you have with your suppliers. How many event organisers are still mailing contractors with details of their stalls, timetables and insurance documents? Email would suffice for the majority of those documents.
Years ago, events had to encourage visitors to use recycling bins. Nowadays, recycling is part of our everyday lives. The main reason there isn’t enough recycling is lack of facilities – there are still nowhere near as many recycling outlets at events as there are litter bins.
Festivals such as Coachella have come up with inventive ways of solving this issue. For instance, Coachella paint all their recycling bins in a bright or luminous colour. Even if there aren’t as many recycling bins, they’re much more visible for visitors.
There’s also an issue of understanding. Some people still throw recyclables in the litter bin because they aren’t sure what can be recycled and what can’t. Think about placing information signs next to the all bins which clearly explain what can go where.
Talking of recyclables, the amount of plastic in the world is still one of the biggest issues we face. We’ve all seen the programmes about plastic in the ocean and the affect it’s having on our wildlife, so we won’t go over old ground in this article.
But eliminating single use plastic should be an immediate concern for your event.
The good news is that a lot of our plastic misuse is out of bad habit rather than real necessity. Plastic straws, cups and cutlery could all be replaced with environmentally-friendly alternatives such as wood or washable metal.
Plastic drinking bottles are already on their way out – many music festivals are replacing them with reusable metal flasks which attendees can either buy or borrow.
5 Food from sustainable sources
When we talk about looking after the environment, we don’t just mean pollution or waste. We also have to think about the wildlife that we share the planet with.
We’re not going to suggest that every event should only cater for vegans, or that all meat be replaced with a Quorn alternative. But we should start thinking about where caterers are sourcing food from.
We should ensure that produce comes from sustainable sources, and also make sure food and drinks stocks aren’t a result of habitat destruction.
You might also want to think about how much food your event wastes/throws away and how much of that could be wrapped up and given to the homeless.
6 Lead generation devices and apps
If you’re hosting a conference or business event, your attendees will likely look to swap business cards or marketing material to highlight their product or service. This means there will be thousands upon thousands of leaflets and cards floating around – most of which won’t even result in any form of interaction.
We were recently invited to an event where all users will be given a tag with a code on it. That code is unique to each visitor and contains all their contact and business information. If users want to swap details, they simply scan the code using their smartphone and all the details are stored.
This is a great example of paperless alternatives and should result in far less wasted paper. It could also save your visitors a lot of money in design and print costs.
Back to Coachella, and one of the ways they create sustainable, clean energy is via an ‘energy play park’ where visitors play on swings and seesaws etc and in turn the movement of the apparatus creates energy.
We’re nowhere near scientific enough to tell you how, but it doesn’t involve fossil fuels or dirty energy.
Other festivals have taken a less radical approach and are instead ensuring that they only use bio diesel in their generators, for instance. Whatever your event, there’s a high chance that you’ll use a lot of energy. It may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things, but every little helps.
If you can use cleaner energy, you’re helping to save the environment and you could save yourself some money. Solar panels, for instance, may cost quite a bit to install but have the potential of earning you money when energy companies buy the unused energy they create.
As an experienced broker for event insurance, we’ve been involved in planning events of all different shapes and sizes. Along the way, we’ve seen different ways that event planners have tackled the challenge of more environmentally-friendly events.
If you’d like more of our thoughts on this, or expertise on event insurance or any other aspect of event planning, contact us today.