Sustainability in events has become increasingly important for event organisers and the public. The current pandemic however is resulting in a backflip on the move away from single use items. Restrictions surrounding Covid-19 have meant that we are being encouraged to use single use items to avoid the spread of the virus. So does this mean that we should press pause on sustainable events (well those few that are currently allowed to run!) or are there other elements of sustainable events that we can focus on?
We believe that sustainability is too important to “press pause” and have instead been focusing on ways we can produce sustainable events that are also Covid-Safe events. Below we have compiled a list of options that will assist you to make your next event sustainable.
1. Remote and virtual options
One element of sustainable events that has been made much more popular by the current crisis is remote and virtual options for events. By changing your event to a virtual one or running a hybrid event you are reducing emissions, which is always a good thing.
When planning for your event, an important element is how to deal with the waste produced by the event. Whilst we are all aiming to also reduce the overall waste, it is also important to ensure that the waste produced is processed appropriately. This involves working with your waste company to ensure that you have recycling bins available and that the contents of those bins are actually going to be recycled. We utilise Clean Vibes for our event waste here in Sydney. Yes we are being encouraged to implement single use items at the moment due to Covid-19 but try and find options that are environmentally friendly and ensure they are recycled where appropriate.
3. Local cuisine – farm to table concept
Farm-to-table is a social movement which promotes serving local food at restaurants and events, preferably through direct acquisition from the producer. Farm-to-table often incorporates a form of food traceability (celebrated as “knowing where your food comes from”) where the origin of the food is identified to consumers. Using local cuisine not only supports the local economy and reduces emissions – it also makes for a great story for your event attendees.
4. Local service providers
In a similar concept to the local cuisine concept above, utilising local service providers allows you to support the local economy. It also reduces emissions as you are not freighting items around and reduces the emissions that the suppliers themselves produce. Again this can work into an overall theme of support local which has become increasingly popular during the current crisis and you may even be the piece of work that keeps that small business going.
5. Giving Back
When planning an incentive or a destination-based event, we aim to incorporate some kind of community service project. Giving back to the destination may include incorporating some volunteer work into your activities schedule. Examples include assisting a local charity/school with some repair work such as painting, gardening or just getting your group involved in some activities with the attendees. We recommend to keep the jobs fairly simple (unless your group happen to be tradesmen!) and couple this with some fundraising for the entity.
6. Reuse Marketing
How often have you been to an event and the signage was thrown away at the conclusion of the event? When planning the marketing and directional signage for your next event, we encourage you to consider using designs that can be reused. Chalkboard signage can be a good option for some events, or simply using less detailed signage – especially for directions. Utilising the company logo rather than the event specific logo on some elements of your signage gives you the option to reuse the signage for subsequent events. Alternatively, if you need your signage to be quite event specific, consider using options for “re-skinning” your banners. Many signage providers are able to offer this service, whereby the main elements of the banner are kept and just the “skin” is replaced so that you are not wasting the banner – this is also a cheaper option.
Apps have become more and more popular as the ease of producing one has increased. In most cases your attendees do not want to walk around your event carrying masses of paper. Most elements of an event are easily transferable to an app saving a lot of paper. The bonus of using an app is that it also allows you to communicate with your attendees during the day by sending push notifications. You can also incorporate gamification allowing you to take polls and conduct surveys while the attendees are still onsite.
8. Considerate Merchandise
When considering the merchandise for your next event – make sure you consider items that will actually be reused. Unfortunately a lot of merchandise items given out at events are not used and this equates to a lot of landfill and a waste of money. The reasons for this vary, sometimes it’s due to the items being inferior quality, sometimes they haven’t been selected to suit the needs of the attendees and sometimes they have been badly designed. Ensure that the merchandise you purchase is good quality, reusable and designed in a way that your attendees will actually want to use it after the event.
In addition to the above-mentioned items there are also some really great options popping up which support the local community. Leftover food from events can be donated to your local food kitchen charity. Floral centrepieces can be donated to the local hospital or you can hold a “Table Auction” with the highest bidder from each table able to take them home. The funds from this can be donated to a local charity meaning that not only are you wasting the flowers you are also contributing to the community.
New ideas and organisations are popping up all over the place with some fantastic ideas on how to make your event sustainable. Get creative and see if there are any new and innovative ways you can come up with. Together we can help to make events more sustainable – if you would like to chat through any sustainable ideas for your next event please contact us.