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The Future of: Environmentally Friendly Events

The IACC’s 2019 report predicted that in 2024, sustainability practices will be one of the most important areas which venues will focus on.


Solar panels on a field under a sunset

Sustainable event planning is exponentially increasing in importance every day. If your next event has not incorporated sustainability considerations, your strategy urgently needs to include this.


Therefore, this week’s “The Future Of…” article is all about how the most innovative players in the events industry are taking steps to ensure the environmental friendliness of their events. We hope event professionals will be inspired by the below examples to incorporate environmentally friendly event planning.


Refreshments

Glasses of champagne on trays on a table

To start off with an aspect of events that many attendees look forward to, the food and beverages served at events are things that can have the biggest carbon footprint but also be the easiest to alter. Using one supplier that uses too much unrecyclable packaging, providing food for, say, 500 attendees, is all it takes for 500 more plastic items in a landfill.


With regards to the food itself, vegetarian and vegan options used to just be one-offs that events only supplied if specific guests requested them. Now, they are provided as standard. And they are no longer the blander options that vegetarian and vegan guests are stuck with – they are offered to more people, and therefore are expected to contain just as much flavour and taste as your meat-based food options.


When making beverages more consistent with environmentally friendly event planning, they are increasingly served in glass bottles as opposed to ones made out of PET materials. Handing out barrels of bottled water used to be normal, but now it will be met with winces. As will plastic cutlery. So, make sure you can provide your attendees with sustainable recepticles for drinks and reusable cutlery. And if your chosen supplier can’t do this, you can always ask attendees to bring their own bottles if possible, so that you can cut down on the amount of plastic you consume.


You may be worried about asking this of your attendees, but a bring-your-own-bottle policy has actually been normalised in recent years. With the coronavirus pandemic making people reluctant to share cutlery or cups, or use those that other people may have used, asking attendees to bring their own drinks bottles is a valued safety measure as well as the environmentally responsible thing to do. We have seen more and more venues, suppliers and event organisers asking this of their attendees.


Smart Technology

A man stands in front of a background showing a city skyline, holding an electronic tablet

We’ve discussed at length before about how digital technology is integrating with events more every day. Today, new examples of smart technology are coming to the forefront to assist with sustainable event planning.


For instance, the conference centre at the Radisson Blue Waterfront hotel in Stockholm uses a very innovative building management system. The system is able to detect how many people are in a room, so that it can adjust how much to cool down the room or give it fresh air, in order to not use too much energy. This allows them to host sophisticated events that are environmentally friendly.


This shows just how easy it is for event organisers to keep the carbon footprint of their event down, so that in future, there’ll be no excuses for other event organisers not to follow suit.


There are so many other opportunities for event organisers to use smart technology to increase the sustainability of your next event. Agency OrangeDoor has discussed the possibility of, for instance, smart hubs at major cities allowing event organisers to view multiple venue locations, or attendees to virtually visit any event location. Concurrent sessions could also allow global audiences to interact simultaneously without having to travel, with data speeds improving every year. By reducing pollutive travel, sustainable event planning is being made a lot easier everyday.


Right now, smart hubs in cities can’t allow attendees to visit any event virtually, but right now high quality livestreaming, which is managed by a technical team so that it does not buffer, is the smoothest method event professionals have access to, that can help attendees view events from home – i.e. without any emission costs caused by having to travel all the way to your venue. This seamless technology is integral, as 380 million litres of diesel are used each year due to transport pollution related to the UK events industry. This costs the economy an estimated £230 million every year.


We’ve discussed more about how livestreaming events can make them more environmentally friendly on our website – read here.


Equipment


A fountain pen balances atop an open diary

Other innovations being introduced to the sustainable events industry include the equipment and instruments used.


For instance, even smaller items such as name badges and lanyards are being replaced by more environmentally friendly versions, made out of recycled materials. This is highly important as these small items still produce a lot of plastic, including for the plastic or laminated front, and sustainable versions of them therefore stand out as considerate measures.


Another example of an extraneous event material, is the paper leaflets and signage showing the programme for the event. These materials use up a salient amount of paper, which event organisers are starting to very easily remove through having all of this information available via an app instead.


Many organisers, of everything from film screenings to larger conferences, have been sending e-tickets in emails encouraging audiences not to print out the ticket if they’re able to simply use the e-ticket on their device. Therefore, organisers that display lots of paper signs and distribute unnecessary copies of their programme to every single attendee, are starting to be the hypocritical ones. This is definitely something to bear in mind.


Overall


Environmental friendliness in events is becoming more of an intrinsic quality that all events must take into consideration. This is to the extent that environmental duties are no longer left to just a single sustainability team; the leading companies are simply embedding sustainability into everything they do, including events.


Is your organisation being proactive about sustainable event planning? Comment below about what measures you’ve been taking – and fill out our contact form if you’d like us to livestream your event to reduce pollution from attendees travelling.

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