Food and beverages are a significant source of waste at many events. However, since it’s such a faux pas to run out of food at an event, the typical reaction is to order in abundance. As a consequence, much of it goes untouched and then must be disposed at the end of the event. If lucky, the venue or caterer have the means to compost it or divert it to an organics waste stream. Otherwise, it’s destined for the landfill, which is no good because organics biodegrade much slower in a landfill setting.
For large events like conventions, trade shows, and expos, vendors can have equally large exhibits that need to be delivered to and from a venue by truck. The move-in and move-out periods before and after these events can be chaotic, with several delivery vehicles jostling for position at loading docks and even entering the exhibition hall itself in some cases.
There appears to be a big shift in the events industry towards “going paperless” and we certainly think that’s a great thing here at Green Meeting Ninjas. There are times, however, when printing is inevitable; when the need for hard-copy marketing materials and resources are critical to the success of your event.
Like we described in a previous tip, the travel of attendees to and from a venue can have a considerable impact on an event’s overall carbon impact. Whether it’s a multi-day conference where they’re going to and from their hotel, or it’s an evening staff party where their company is paying for a safe cab ride home, there is a considerable carbon impact associated with it.
To the chagrin of planners and attendees alike, a common issue that arises at many events is the matter of whether vegetarian and vegan food options are available. From the planner’s perspective, it can add a degree of complexity and even cost to their planning efforts. From the attendee’s perspective, it can mean that they face could little to no adequate food options, and could end up going hungry.
That has got to be the biggest event planning faux pas, right?
Green meeting ideas do not have to be very difficult to put into action. On the contrary, you may already be doing some of them without even thinking of it. For instance, when you’re planning a large multi-day event, you’re already going to be booking room blocks at local hotels. And if you’re hosting your event in a city center (as opposed to the suburbs), odds are that you’re already choosing a hotel or two that are within walking distance of the venue. This, in itself, is an act of green event planning.
Developing an event sustainability policy is an integral piece of the sustainable event planning puzzle. Without one, your efforts risk being nothing more than good intentions. With one, you’re setting yourself up for success by arming yourself with a clear vision, goals, and commitments for holding yourself and others accountable.
When planning for a low carbon or carbon neutral event, it’s helpful to keep in mind that much of the impact does not occur during the event itself, but before and after it in different forms. The transportation of attendees to and from an event is particularly impactful and air travel is the worst culprit in this regard. Therefore, you can greatly reduce an event’s overall carbon footprint by choosing a city and venue that is close to the majority of the attendees.