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5 Ways to Make Your Event More Sustainable

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

(City of Melbourne sustainable event guide)

According to the Sustainable Event Alliance, the events industry contributes to an estimated 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year, which is equivalent to the emissions of the entire aviation industry. Events require a lot of energy and generate a lot of waste, most of which is not disposed of properly. The emissions created from powering an event, managing water and waste, and supporting travel and transportation can be immense, and the industry is continuing to grow each year. In order to meet the Australian government’s goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050, event organisers must take steps to reduce the environmental impact of their events.

1.Choose Sustainable Venues

When choosing a venue for your event, it is important to review the venue’s sustainability policies. Does the venue use energy-efficient lighting or renewable energy? Does it use water efficient appliances and offer dual flush toilets? Other factors to consider are the venue’s proximity to public transport and its waste management practices. Does the venue have recycling facilities and offer reusable cutlery and other materials? Has it eliminated or reduced the use of single use plastic? These are all questions that should be discussed with the venue manager and taken into consideration when choosing a venue. Organisers should promote the sustainable aspects of the venue in event promotions and encourage potential attendees to carpool or take public transportation when travelling to the event.

2.Reduce Waste

(City of Melbourne sustainable event guide)

The average event attendee generates 1.89 kg of waste per day, which is almost double the amount generated by an average person. One effective way to reduce waste is by implementing a “no waste” policy for all suppliers. Banning single use items or requiring suppliers to charge extra for them can make a huge difference in reducing waste. Reusable plates, cups and cutlery should be used whenever possible, and recycling bins should be provided throughout the event space. Waste management staff should be present at the event to ensure waste is being disposed of properly and is not making its way into natural spaces. Attendees should also be encouraged to do their part by bringing their own water bottles, cups and reusable bags. Taking these steps to reduce waste will not only limit the environmental impact of your event, but also help save money on event costs.

3.Use Renewable Energy Sources

Events are typically powered by electricity, gas or generator diesel, most of which is powered by fossil fuels. But energy providers are increasingly offering renewable energy sources or opportunities to offset carbon emissions. Choose renewable energy sources when possible to power your event or purchase carbon emissions offsets if renewable sources are not available. Consider using energy efficient equipment and lighting, and put policies in place to switch off appliances when not in use. Choose generators that save fuel and reduce running time, and set your thermostat to between 24 and 26 degrees for cooling in summer and between 18 and 20 degrees for heating in winter. Choosing a venue that already has these policies in place will make this process easier and more straightforward.

4.Source sustainable products and suppliers

Organising an event requires many purchasing and hiring decisions, and sustainability should be factored into each decision. Hire or lease goods and services whenever possible rather than purchasing. If you must purchase items, look for locally made products with an environmental or social certification that are recyclable or made from recycled materials. Try to buy in bulk whenever possible and avoid products with excessive packaging. When choosing suppliers, make sure they have a clear understanding of where their products and services come from, and ask them to provide information on their carbon footprint. For example, when sourcing catering options, prioritise suppliers that use local or fair-trade ingredients and sustainable food sourcing methods.

5.Measurement and Reporting

Measuring the impact of your events helps you evaluate where you’re at and identify where you can make improvements. It’s important to establish objectives and set targets to meet them within a reasonable timeframe. Brainstorm with your team to come up with creative ways to meet your goals, and continuously measure your progress along the way. Many aspects of the event process are out of your control and in the hands of your suppliers, so it is incredibly important to choose partners and suppliers that have transparent reporting processes and can regularly update you on their carbon emissions and steps they are taking to reduce them. Measurement and reporting should be a continuous process, and your plan should be reevaluated throughout the year to ensure you’re meeting your targets.

Don’t be afraid to communicate your sustainability efforts to your audience. This can create a positive brand image for your organisation but also encourages attendees to adopt sustainable practices in their daily lives. Including sustainability information on your website and social media channels or using a designated hashtag can help raise awareness and engage your audience. Transparency is key when communicating about sustainability in an authentic way. Highlight the positive steps your event is taking to reduce its impact on the environment, but also feel free to admit your shortcomings and the steps you’re taking to overcome these.

Creating sustainable events is not only good for the environment but also good for your community and organisation. By choosing sustainable venues, reducing waste, using renewable energy sources, choosing sustainable products and suppliers, and measuring progress, you can create an event that has a positive impact on the planet and the community. For more information, check out the City of Melbourne’s sustainable event guide.

As an event management agency, VEE Agency recognises the importance of making our events more sustainable and are taking steps toward a carbon neutral future. We’ve incorporated these practices into our business processes, and you can too! We’re organising our very first carbon neutral event in 2023. Subscribe to our newsletter to follow along and get event tips sent straight to your inbox.

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