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Planning a Sustainable Event? First, Ask Yourself These 6 Questions

Posted on 18 October 2022

Event Management


With more organisations and individuals opting for sustainability than ever before, event managers now have an added element to their planning process. According to trends reporting, 72% of Australian event planners are focusing on sustainability at their events. 


When planning a sustainable event, you need to think about everyone involved in the process. From start to finish, you will be engaging with stakeholders, venues, catering, community members, and attendees, each of which can help by actively contributing to achieving your end goals. 


Consider the following questions before you start planning your next event. Your answers will be key in crafting clear sustainability goals, before actioning them effectively and efficiently.

What are your goals?

Each event has:


  • Direct and indirect impacts
  • Reversible and irreversible impacts
  • Positive and negative impacts


When planning a sustainable event, it is important to explore and collate all impacts that an event will have on the surrounding environments and communities. This will help provide you with an idea of what your sustainable goals should be.


Consider, for example, food wastage. Your goal may be to reduce food wastage at your event by 60%. Under this large umbrella goal, you can then set a series of tasks that will help to reach this goal. This could include under ordering catering by 10%, or collecting leftovers to be distributed to a local food bank. 


When setting sustainability goals, keep in mind they should be ambitious, but achievable. Review old data from previous events to give you an idea of what goals you should be setting, without overestimating and under delivering (or similarly setting a goal that is achieved without intended effort).

Where are you hosting your event?


Consider your venue selection. Do they have specific sustainability guidelines in place? How are they working to actively lower their own carbon footprint? Planning a sustainable event should start with the very foundations - you want all stakeholders to share similarly aligned values, including actively working towards a smaller carbon footprint. 


Firstly, consider the venue location. Ideally, a sustainable event venue should be in close proximity to public transport, or within walking distance from accommodation. If attendees have to travel a long distance to attend, chances are it’s not that sustainable of a choice. 


Secondly, ask for a copy of the venue’s sustainability policies. Make sure they align with your vision for a sustainable event. Communicate your requests directly with the venue before any contracts are signed (having no single-use plastics for food or beverage service, for example). 

How can you involve attendees?


Empowering attendees to make more eco-friendly choices is a feel-good initiative that keeps your sustainable event goals on track. 

Give your event attendees options to contribute to your goals by:

  • Sending prior communication to all attendees, outlining your sustainable event plan, goals, and what they can do to lower their carbon footprint during the event
  • Having a water station for attendees to refill water bottles
  • Encouraging guests to bring their own reusable bags, cups, etc
  • Ask attendees to download a virtual program, instead of printing one or asking for a paper copy
  • Offering attendees the option to use a courtesy bus to and from the venue to certain pick up/drop off locations, rather than driving individually

Where can you minimise waste?


Small, consistent efforts create great change. Throughout all event processes, brainstorm where you can minimise waste.


Having set systems in place such as contactless check-in and digital ticketing can avoid printing and paper wastage, while streamlining the check in process for both attendees and yourself. To take paperless one step further, event management systems like iVvy give you the option to create virtual run-sheets, meaning event managers and venue workers can work off a singular sheet that gets updated in real-time.


For conferences, have general waste, food waste, and recycling bins available and clearly marked. For events such as corporate gatherings, consider hosting outside during daylight hours. This not only uses significantly less energy than an indoor event, but may even turn out to be cheaper in the long-run.   

How can you better involve the community?


Your event can impact many members of the community - so, why not get them involved in achieving your set sustainability goals. Research community groups who may be interested in the theme of your event, or your drive to go green, and let them know more about your event and your sustainability plans.


Involve community members in your efforts to go green by partnering up to promote local products and services to attendees (catering, eco-friendly accommodation, locally produced goods), while creating greater exposure for your event.


This process can be replicated for all event stakeholders.


How are you measuring success?


Finally, make sure all your hard work in planning a sustainable event is measurable. Collect the right data, and make sure you have some comparisons to draw back on after your event has taken place. You want your measures of success to be accurate, consistent, and relevant to your end goal. 


Consider how you plan on measuring success, and set up reporting templates accordingly. Post-event, record all acquired data, analyse, and report your results. Your results will help in future planning, ensuring you continually strive to make your next event eco-conscious, community-driven, and sustainably successful.


Find out more

Check out our blog about ESG and the value it can bring to your venue or event - click here.


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