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7 Simple Ways To Make Your Events More Sustainable

Written by: Mark Cooper - Wednesday, May 15, 2019

As the effects of climate change and environmental degradation continue to dominate headlines worldwide, the need for sustainable and eco-friendly events has never been greater. 

Meeting planners must clearly demonstrate their commitment to implementing environmentally friendly (also known as “eco-friendly” and “green”) initiatives to help improve their events’ sustainability.

What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is the process of making changes to preserve the environment and its natural resources in order to create a healthy world to live in. Adopting eco-friendly practices and planning sustainable events plays a key role in this process. 

“Sustainability for events means taking action towards preserving our natural environment; promoting a healthy, inclusive society; and supporting a thriving economy.” - The Events Industry Council (EIC)

Concerned your events are negatively impacting the environment? 

Want to reduce your global footprint? 

And make your events “greener”? 

Here are 7 simple ways to make your next event sustainable.

1. Adopt a green approach

Environmentally friendly events not only make people feel good, they increase morale, aid creativity and help improve a company’s reputation. Being greener and focusing on sustainability often leads to repeat bookings and increased ROI.

Adopting a sustainable approach should be an integral component of your overall meeting objective, not just a “bolt on.”

Start by choosing using an eco-friendly search engine. The UK’s Lane End Conference Centre made it company policy to use “Ecosia” as their default search engine. Ecosia’s USP is that profits are used to plant trees worldwide (over 55,000 to-date). 

To celebrate their 50th year in business, Lane End committed to five new green initiatives in 2019. They became a paper-free office and will be planting an orchard to provide guests with fresh juice and produce.

Apple Trees
Image courtesy of Marina Khrapova, Unsplash.

2. Improve your event’s green credentials

Ensure your next event clearly reflects your company’s or client’s sustainability policy and green credentials by actioning environmentally friendly practices wherever possible. 

Being mindful of people and the planet can greatly influence an event’s success. Venues are increasingly only selecting planners who are committed to sustainable practices. As a result, there’s now a greater choice of environmentally conscious venues, suppliers and products available. 

Choose a venue with IACC’s Green Star certification. To achieve accreditation, venues must clearly demonstrate their commitment to sustainable practices.

Why not consider donating any surplus material or resources to a local charity, enterprise or school?

SigtunaHojden Hotel and Conference Center  - IACC Green Star Certified

Image courtesy of Sigtunahöjden.

3. Choose eco-friendly venues

Meeting venues constantly seek innovative ways to implement green initiatives and many now feature:

  • Recycling sorting stations in all meeting spaces

  • Filtered water dispensers 

  • Key card operated lights and technology 

  • Smart room temperature controls 

  • Reusable linen and towel policies

  • Eco-friendly toiletries (available in bulk dispensers) and recycled toilet paper in all washrooms

Venues with environment-friendly landscaping are proving popular. Greenery and flower beds encourage biodiversity and the use of drought resistant plants and trees helps keep watering to a minimum.

Rungstedgaard, a Danish hotel and conference venue, decided to embrace sustainability and employees were involved with finding creative ways to improve the venue’s green credentials. 

Rungstedgaard has an organic garden, growing everything from herbs and berries to edible flowers, all of which are used in their new restaurant “The Lounge.” Six nearby beehives also provide honey for the breakfast buffet. Guests are even offered beach bags made from sugar canes. 

Rungstedgaard hotel conference center bees
Image courtesy of Rungstedgaard.

Rungstedgard herbs
Image courtesy of Rungstedgaard.

4. Opt for sustainably designed meeting spaces 

Many venues now feature meeting rooms furnished (either fully or in part) with sustainable materials. Think handcrafted, recycled or upcycled.

Eco-friendly venues also tend to use local suppliers and craftsmen — further lessening their carbon footprint, whilst supporting the local economy. 

Design inspiration is often taken from a venue’s natural surroundings and sustainable materials used to create the desired ambience. Sweden’s Sigtunahöjden Hotel & Conference venue features decor inspired by the nearby forest. 

Maximising the use of natural light is also a plus. This simple design consideration not only helps reduce energy consumption, but it can also boost the room’s energy.

5. Reduce the transportation footprint

How can you ensure your next event leaves a lighter carbon footprint?

  • Seek eco-friendly transport, such as hybrid and low emission vehicles. 

  • Sigtunahöjden’s transportation options include buses powered by fossil-free fuel. 

  • Encourage ride-shares and hire mini buses over taxis for events held in remote location

  • Discourage travel by car wherever possible. However, if necessary, choose venues with electric charging points.

  • Offer people the option of joining the event virtually. 

greener footprint venues

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

6. Cut down on food waste 

How can you reduce your event’s food waste footprint?

  • Opt for menu choices with minimal packaging, ideally supplied in biodegradable or recyclable containers.

  • Ask for locally sourced, organic foods and sustainably sourced seafood.

  • Obtain guests’ special dietary requirements in advance to prevent food waste.

  • Donate surplus food to charity. Many venues already work with local charities including social enterprises and food banks.

  • Ask for smaller sized plates to be provided to reduce portion sizes. 

  • Champion plant-based or vegetarian choices to help reduce CO2 emissions derived from meat.

  • Consider offering a purely vegetarian menu for events lasting more than one day (as demonstrated by Sigtunahöjden).

Sigtuna Summer Herb garden

Image courtesy of Sigtunahöjden.

“We need to address food waste. It's a triple win: helps with costs, helps with our environ-mental impact and can help address food insecurity.”
- Mariela McIlwraith, Director of Industry Advancement at the EIC.

Which sustainable practices do IACC venues currently offer? 

Lane End Conference Centre recycles non-GM cooking oil into Bio Fuels and even repurposes used coffee beans for guests to use as compost at home.

 Organic Coffee 

Image courtesy of Lane End.

Sigtunahöjden mainly uses eco-labelled ingredients. In 2018, all staff were involved with the launch of Sigtunahöjden’s “Restaurant Skog”, which uses locally sourced ingredients.

fresh ingredients
Image courtesy of Sigtunahöjden.

Rungstedgaard supplies spring water free of charge. Water stations feature reusable bottles (made from sustainable plastic), which guests can take home. Rungstedgaard saved using over 5,000 plastic bottles during this initiative’s first month!

  

Image courtesy of Rungstedgaard.

7. Go paperless

Wherever possible, adopt a paper-free approach. Ensure your venue is aware of your policy and communicate digitally with all parties (including guests and suppliers) from the outset. 

Ditch the disposable:

  • Create a bespoke event website or app featuring all key meeting information

  • Provide e-tickets

  • Use digital or erasable whiteboards 

  • Use washable and / or reusable material name badges

  • Design reusable signage

By planning environment-friendly meetings, not only will you help to preserve the environment, you’ll inspire guests to apply a sustainable approach to their everyday lives. The more we can do collectively, the better. 

“Every contribution makes a difference, no matter how small.” - Stine Kold, General Manager at Rungstedgaard hotel and conference venue

Trash

Image courtesy of Bas Emmen, Unsplash.


Looking for a Green-Star Certified Venue?



Green star


Learn about IACC’s Green Star Certification

Learn about EIC’s Principles for Sustainable Events



With many thanks to our contributors:
Mariela McIlwraith, Director of Industry Advancement for the Events Industry Council (EIC).
Lotta Giesenfeld Boman, CEO and Lina Fors, Sales & Marketing Manager at Sig-tunahöjden Conference Centre and Hotel.
Heni Fourie, Director of Sales & Marketing at Lane End Conferences.
Stine Kold, General Manager and Susanne Simonsen, Sales & Marketing at Rung-stedgaard Hotel & conference venue.

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