3 Ways to Think of Event Sustainability Right Now

2020 has been a very unique year to say the least. With so much still unknown, how can you pivot your business for all your upcoming events? Some inevitably had to be cancelled with social distancing practices. But what about those in the autumn or in 2021? Whether you’re postponing weddings for your clients, planning virtual workshops or producing Instagram Live Concerts, how can you continue to think about event sustainability at a time like this?

Here are three ways that you can put event sustainability into action right now.

1.     Audit past events

Taking an audit of past events, particularly those that occur annually is a good place to start. At Eco-Friendly Events, we take a holistic approach to event sustainability and consider all aspects of an event. First you want to start by breaking the event into different parts such as venue, décor, marketing materials, catering and entertainment etc. Within each section – take stock of all the resources that were used.

Then with each item, ask specific questions such as: 

Décor

  • Where were the items sourced from? Was it local?

  • Were the items single-use and tossed in the landfill?

  • Was the item made of natural or plant-based materials?

Catering

  • Was produce in-season, local and organic?

  • Was a proper food waste management system in place?

  • Was the food served on reusable or single-use plates and cutlery? 

Once you have taken stock of a past event, and how well (or not-so-well) your event did green-wise. It’s time to find eco-friendlier alternatives for the next year!

2.     Plan for 2021

Whether or not you did an audit of a past event or you have already begun planning for an upcoming one in 2021, there’s ample time to develop and execute an event sustainability plan!

As you approach each stage of the event (following your critical path) – from selecting a venue to the entertainment, décor and caterer. There are a number of ways to incorporate greener options. For example, choosing a LEED certified venue is a small yet impactful choice. Other substitutions could be as easy as eliminating plastic water bottles at your outdoor festival and replacing it with a refill station! Or could you create some sort of hybrid event? A virtual panel discussion with an in-person trade show. It can help eliminate long-distance travellers who are only interested in attending the educational portion and this ultimately reduces carbon emissions!

Going hand-in-hand with an event sustainability plan is the … budget.

3.     Budget

Without knowing what the foreseeable future will bring to the events industry, it also means uncertainty for event grants and sponsorship. Despite this, it is important to create an event budget that comprises of a “green line.”

Having a “green line” in your event budget could look differently depending on the event type. For example it could mean having more money to account for eco-friendlier options that may cost more than their single-use plastic counterparts. Or it could look like eliminating multiple lines for décor items because you found a creative way to use the materials multiple times at the same event. For example, florals from the wedding ceremony used again as centrepieces for the reception.

However the “green line” is created within your budget, there are numerous ways to create it. You just have to get creative and remember, there’s really no wrong way of doing it!

Regardless of how you’re planning for your future events or adjusting your business offerings, you can still include event sustainability into the planning process. From auditing a past event to planning a new one for 2021 or finding a “green line” into your next event budget – it is possible, and it does make a difference! For a sample event audit you can use for past events, download the FREE PDF here.

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