Starbucks recently announced that they will eliminate plastic straws from their 28,000 stores worldwide by 2020 in efforts to reduce the use of plastic. Starbucks follows companies such as Tesla, Patagonia and TOMS who are all working to make the world a more sustainable and greener place. Here are a few simple ways that your organization can help these companies pave the way for a greener planet during your next event!
Going Paperless: Allow your attendees to register and download tickets online. They will have the convenience of registering on their own time using any device! The day of the event, check in should be done through an app or software on an iPad, you could even use kiosks to eliminate the need for multiple people to be present at a check in table. This process will generate zero paper waste, all your event data will be organized, lines will be faster and check in will be seamless for event staff and attendees! Conference attendees take home 10 pounds of paper in the form of handouts and vendor information. To get rid of printed resources, an event app can be utilized by attendees to look up daily schedules, session information and more! Badges are an essential tool for networking at corporate events, but they usually use both paper and plastic. For smaller conferences, consider eliminating the plastic around the badge and use thicker stock paper instead!
Waste Reduction: Multiple recycle stations should be placed around your venue and be clearly labeled so attendees know what should and should not be recycled. Waste and recyclables can still be put into the wrong bin, so assign volunteers or event staff to sort through and dispose of everything correctly! You can also use the recycle bins as a branding opportunity for your organization, event logo or sponsorship opportunity! If you have food at your event, the leftovers may go to waste, but donating it to local food shelters will greatly reduce that waste and also means you are giving back to the local community. Plastic contributes to a lot of waste, but at Austin City Limits Music Festival they took a step towards sustainability by not allowing plastic bottles/containers/bags on site! Water refill stations were provided and attendees could bring their own reusable water bottles. Allow attendees to bring their own or provide branded reusable water bottles as an event keepsake!
Technology: Discuss ways to make your event more energy efficient with your A/V provider! Use LED video walls instead of projectors. They use less energy while still being brighter, clearer and more versatile than traditional media! LED light bulbs can last up to five times longer than any comparable bulb. This means you save money and energy and will have effective and efficient lighting at your event. Battery powered uplights have multiple uses, can be any color and are just another way to save energy with your A/V equipment. If you’re hosting a large conference or meeting, reduce the use of travel for clients, attendees, etc. with teleconferencing. This type of event will mean less labor and will reach more people through the internet. Cisco Live is a company that allows a virtual attendance option. At a recent event, they avoided generating over 7,500 million tons of carbon dioxide by hosting 3,200 virtual-only attendees!
For more ways on how to make your event more sustainable, do research! There are plenty of online resources and organizations that will help, such as MeetGreen and the Sustainable Event Alliance! We also encourage you to use these practices at your next event to help make the world a greener place one event at a time!