How to plan an event sustainably

The public is more conscious than ever about sustainability and good stewardship of the environment. But jobs and communities rely on industry to keep them prosperous, and people will always need entertaining. So how can events fulfil basic sustainability goals and still be successful? Here are some of our tips.

Create and publicise your sustainable plan

First, make sure all the event organisers are fully on board with the sustainability policies influencing the event. Whether it’s a business seminar or a music festival, if sustainability is the number one consideration, all organisers can go the extra mile to find greener solutions.

Once the event is in publicity mode, make sure you let potential guests know that sustainability is important. As well as having positive marketing repercussions, it can also explain some of the decisions that you make, so guests are less likely to complain or be surprised when things aren’t “normal”.

Choose the location well

Some events are tied to a location, but for all others, the choice of venue plays a big part in how green it is. If potential guests are generally from a particular area, host it there – it doesn’t always have to be in London, or on an exotic island. Generally, city centres are easiest to reach by public transport, and if you can host the event in a hotel and do a deal with the manager for reduced rates, you can cut in-location commuting to zero.

Paperless everything

Now everyone has a smartphone, you can easily issue tickets online, with scannable bar codes on entry, without sending paper invitations or asking attendees to print off a ticket. It’s also handy if there’s a last-minute change of plan, as everyone can be informed. The whole operation, from planning to feedback, can be paperless. That can even include things like paper plates and cups. Is there an alternative? Re-usable cups used to be normal (they were called “cups”); maybe they need to be again.

Check sustainability policies of suppliers

You might have exhibition and lighting crews, caterers delivering food, and even someone supplying your drinks tokens, but it always pays to check out their own eco credentials and products. Some caterers, for example, now make a point of only using locally sourced ingredients, and if they’re local to the venue themselves, food miles are slashed.


Is there any way you can minimise waste? If you’ve already gone paperless, that’s great. But is there any other single-use stuff you’ve got planned in? Try and eliminate it a source, and if you really can’t avoid it, make sure it’s 100% recyclable – and that you (or the venue managers) actually recycle it.

Energy usage

Finally, we all have to think about energy usage. From heating to lighting, the choice of venue and the time of year all affect how much of them you need. Choose a venue with plenty of natural light, and host events in the warmer months, and you’ll be able to cut out needless energy waste at a stroke.

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