5th June marks World Environment Day. This year, the focus is on the message: “Time for Nature”. Taking a moment to reflect on how we can all instigate change and make events more sustainable is key. Event organisers have a real opportunity to make a difference and ensure events are not harmful to the environment.
We know the event industry is suffering. Many events have already been cancelled or postponed, and the future is looking uncertain for many months to come. The “new normal” suggests event organisers will need to evaluate how to make gatherings safe. Protecting both guests and staff will be paramount.
So how can events stick to social distancing guidance and keep events safe while also being more sustainable?
1. Accessible event location
UK citizens are still being advised to avoid public transport. Now’s your time to branch out and avoid busy city-centre locations. Think about who will be travelling to your event, and choose a location close by to avoid significant travel. You could even implement a reward scheme, such as a lower ticket price for those who cycle or walk to your event.
You could always develop a virtual element to your event, allowing those who can’t physically travel to the venue an opportunity to take part.
In true keeping with the World Environment Day theme, why not take an otherwise indoor-only event outdoors? Give guests a chance to connect with nature and enjoy outdoor activities.
2. Sustainable signage
Signage pointing people towards hygiene stations, rules on social distancing or queuing systems will be of paramount importance in the coming months. Invest in permanent signage that you can use time and again – avoiding plastic where possible. You might be tempted to stick a few laminated signs around your event to guide people, but it will look tacky and be destroyed within days. Instead, make sure all signage is highly visible so it can be accessed by all.
Be environmentally responsible when it comes to your printed materials and signage. Ask yourself if you really need to print those leaflets, or if guests can be provided with a digital version instead. Digital maps and online guidance detailing your event’s safety measures will no doubt be appreciated too.
3. Consider your waste management
It’s unlikely event guests are going to queue up to use a bin responsibly, while also maintaining social distancing. We all know one central waste system is more effective than different bins dotting about the place. If a recyclable and non-recyclable bin are next to each other, people are more likely to make the right choices rather than using a bin that’s simply most convenient.
Ensure there are enough bins in the areas that matter. Bins by doorways or food and drink facilities are a must have. It’s also reasonable to request your guests don’t bring refreshments into your event, unless they’re prepared to take waste away with them.
4. Be transparent with your guests
Guests will want to know what new safety measures you’re putting in place in light of the coronavirus pandemic. They’ll also want to know what steps you’re taking to make your event more sustainable.
Be honest about your expectations, too. If you would prefer guests to bring their own reusable water bottle as there will be filling stations on-site, you have to make this clear. Guests won’t always be on the same page as you, so you should quite literally direct them to a page on your website that explains your ethos and new rules.
All exhibitors, speakers and suppliers should also know your expectations both in terms of social distancing and sustainability.
5. Choose the right suppliers
It’s been discussed for a while now, but it’s important to use local suppliers. Ask them to consider developing a seasonal menu using local ingredients which has a smaller carbon footprint. Choosing small businesses to work on your event will help the local economy to recover following such a devastating time. Small companies often rely on the support and loyalty of local communities, so now is a great time to step in and help by hiring local businesses.
Are you busy planning your first post-lockdown event? Get in touch with us on Instagram and let us know what you’ve got in store.