Interior space of rows of chairs facing a projector screen

5 Ways You can be an Eco-Friendlier Event Attendee

Pandemic or not, in-person events will always exist because as humans we will always crave human connection. And even though each individual’s comfort levels vary the common feelings of many of us seem to be that we are all just ‘over this pandemic’ despite the threat of new variants.

Of course this means, that as planners I’m seeing more and more regression back to single-use items due to health concerns and the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately that means, more waste and more harm for the people and our planet.

Just because green initiatives have taken a backseat, doesn’t mean you can’t still do you part! Here are my top 5 tips to become an eco-friendlier event attendee:

1. Attend Virtually

I know I know, not another virtual event.

But… joining an event from the comfort of your own home significantly reduces the environmental impact from travel, accommodation and food. In fact, virtual events can reduce carbon emissions by up to 99%! (Happily). And who doesn’t want to support that statistic?!

So if and when possible attend an event virtually – especially if it’s another state, province or country.

2. Use Alternative Modes of Transportation

This section I’m going to divide into two parts. First — your flight! If you absolutely must attend a conference or event in-person and you need to fly to your destination, try booking a direct flight and then offset the carbon emissions of your flight. Many airlines have added this as an option while booking which makes it easier, otherwise look at alternatives by giving it a quick Google search.

Once you’re in the destination of the event you want to attend (whether your travelled or it’s in your home town), think about using alternative modes of transportation like walking, biking, public transit or car pooling before booking a car service or driving to actually get to the event venue.

TOP TIP: If you’re an out of town guest, select accommodation that is within walking distance of the event venue

Underground subway station with train on the left and platform on the right

3. BYO - Bring Your Own...

So the event organizers may have opted to offer single-use items as I’ve mentioned previously, but who’s to say you can’t just bring your own!

I always opt to carry my own water bottle, coffee cup and cutlery in a small pouch on the go!

A) I know where the items have been and that they have been properly washed and sanitized.

B) My reusables keep my water colder and my coffee warmer for longer

And C) My stainless steel utensils work far better than the flimsy plastic or ‘biodegradable’ ones anyway!

TOP TIP: My favourite utensil and pouch can be found at here at Logan & Finley

4. Say ‘No’ to Stuff

Swag bags, trade show pens, free giveaways, promotional flyers, business cards and more. How many items did you grab while attending an event and how many did you actually use and how many ended up in a junk drawer or in the garbage?

While these items may be fun or exciting in the moment, start thinking about the longterm use or affects these things have on the environment.

Rather than simply accepting every single items, start saying “No, thanks!” to things you know you won’t use or need. And for materials like flyers or business cards you want to save for future reference, opt to take a photo instead or better yet ask your new connection to add you on LinkedIn!

5. Start Conversations

In the same way that businesses and corporations have a suggestion box or taking into consideration what their consumers demand, so do event planners. So while you’re on-site and you’re noticing how much garbage are in the bins, the lack of recycling or organic bin options or perhaps how much single-use items. One of the few ways to improve and adjust an event year after year is through feedback from attendees.

So go ahead, fill out the feedback form or better yet, email the event organizing team directly!

Close up of two people holding a coffee cup at a table across from each other

Last but not least, use this FREE tool, a carbon footprint calculator developed my MeetGreen to figure out the impact you had as an event attendee. Simply answer the questions to figure out your approximate carbon footprint, make a note of it and see how you can continuously reduce your environmental impact year after tear.

And if you’re looking for new eco-friendly resources to continuously improve your individual impact, sign up for our bi-weekly updates and you’ll receive instant access to our curated list of eco-resources!


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