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Are Your Events Helping to Destroy Our Planet?

Events, whether corporate or personal, all produce an immense amount of unnecessary wastage of resources and creation of surplus destined for a landfill.

Rather than thinking about the planet just once a year when Earth Day comes around, it would be great if we could put more thought into what small things we can do to make our events more sustainable, eco-friendly and help to reduce our Carbon Footprint.

All the waste we generate ends up creating harmful greenhouse gasses which are partly responsible for global climate change. This has affected the weather all over the world and the storms, hurricanes and tsunamis that we have seen in recent years have been some of the most devastating! Some people out there still live in denial that what we have done in the past few decades has not affected the planet but by the time they wake up to reality, it may be too late. With COVID-19 related lockdowns and stay-at-home restrictions in many countries in Q1 2020, the planet has already started to ‘heal’ in a relatively short amount of time. Reduced carbon emissions from planes due to a decrease in daily flights from 176,000 in March 2019 to 145,000 in March 2020 and a 55% decrease in commercial flights in the final week of March 2020 compared to 2019 (source: FlightRadar24)), less cars on the road given that people were in lockdown saw clearer skies and cleaner cities, so if we put in a little effort, we can reduce, reuse and recycle to help heal the only planet we currently have to live on.

How to make your event more Eco-friendly & Sustainable

Creating small changes so that we reduce the usage of our natural resources will make an event ‘sustainable’ and using items that biodegrade will make it ‘eco-friendly’. Here are 7 easy ways to help you reach this earth-friendly status.

  1. Reduce Paper Usage – wherever possible, go paper-free. Provide QR codes or e-tickets for entry to an event. Use an event App for communication and uploading event related documents. Use digital boards or whiteboards instead of paper flipcharts. Use digital signage rather than printing single-use signage that uses toxic inks. Get your sponsors or exhibitors to provide e-flyers rather than printed ones.
  1. Reduce Food Waste – where possible, check about locally sourced food and sustainably sourced seafood. If you’re having the event at a hotel, ask for smaller plates to reduce portion sizes and food waste. Pre-arrange to donate any surplus food to a food bank or charitable organisation. If serving packaged food, ensure the packing is biodegradable and kept to a minimum.
  1. Avoid Single-Use Plastic – it has become a trend to have individual, small plastic bottles of water at every event and this in itself causes a massive amount of waste that is not recycled since it’s easier to just throw it in the trash! Try to avoid this and instead provide water coolers with glasses. Replace plastic spoons and plates with bamboo or plant based biodegradable ones. Plastic straws can be avoided or if absolutely needed, use biodegradable, plant based straws. Don’t waste your money on single-use plastic decor either.
  1. Reduce Transport Related Carbon Footprint – encourage attendees to carpool or better yet choose a venue that is not too far from where most of the attendees are based. Flying to an event adds even more pollution and should be avoided where possible. Another means is to have a virtual event.

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  1. Recycle – if there is going to be paper, plastic or cans at your event, ensure that sufficient recycling bins are provided for these objects. Also make sure that attendees are informed of the availability of these recycling bins so that they actually get used. Keep part of your team responsible to look after the recycling initiative.
  1. Opt for ‘Digital’ Swag – for swags (giveaways), rather than spending money on items like paper notebooks, USB sticks, mugs, flyers, brochures, etc. that will most likely just end up in a landfill, opt for digital gifts like online discount coupons, links to claim gifts from your sponsors or free access to a paid service.
  1. Choose the Right Venue – check to see if your intended venue has ‘green’ certification such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which is an internationally recognized green building certification system or similar. Most global hotel chains have in recent years made great strides in reducing water wastage, removal of all single-use plastics, key card operated technology, recycling stations, etc.

Final Thoughts – Going green does not have to cost the Earth but it will help save our long-suffering planet to heal a little at a time. If we all do our part, a little can go a long way. Avoiding wastage of resources, unnecessary printing of flyers and documents or swags will eventually help keep costs down too. It will be a win-win situation for everyone!

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