Table of Contents

Top 10 important factors to consider when building environmentally sustainable events.

Events play a significant role in shaping people’s lives, fostering social connections, and generating positive experiences. They bring communities together, create memorable moments, and often leave a lasting impact on individuals. These gatherings, whether they are cultural festivals, sports tournaments, or conferences, contribute to the growth of local economies, boost tourism, and provide opportunities for networking and learning. The positive impact on people is undeniable, as events foster a sense of belonging, inspire creativity, and promote cultural understanding.

However, while events may have positive effects on individuals, they can also have adverse consequences on the environment. The sheer magnitude of these gatherings often leads to increased energy consumption, excessive waste generation, and pollution. Large-scale events require significant amounts of resources, including water and electricity, putting a strain on local infrastructure and depleting natural resources. The construction of temporary structures and stages can contribute to deforestation and habitat destruction. Moreover, the transportation of attendees to and from the event location, particularly if long distances are involved, leads to increased carbon emissions, exacerbating climate change.

sustainable events
Sustainable living environmentalist hand holding green earth

Let’s have a look at how events impact the environment:

  • Waste generation  

A major problem of any type of event is the amount of waste produced and CO2 generation due to multiple factors. According to a survey by MeetGreen, a three-day event of 1000 attendees can generate a total of up to 5670kg of waste, of which 3480kg goes directly to landfill. A single conference attendee can generate up to 1.89kg of waste each day they attend an event, 1.29kg of which goes directly to the landfill. 

  • CO2 Emission 

On top of waste generation, events require high amounts of energy this includes transportation, event setup, meals and more. According to MeetGreen’s survey, a three-day event of 1000 attendees would need up to 530 metric tonnes of oil to fuel the entire event. 

  • Water wastage 

Water is becoming a scarce resource and large-scale events consume a large portion of it from an area to facilitate all the attendees and speakers. This results in a water shortage in the area, affecting the day-to-day lives of locals.  

  • Natural Capital 

Local ecosystems are significantly impacted by construction done for the setup of major events. The main area of concern includes flood alleviation, soil stability, improved air quality and soundscape, and food production. All these factors can result in long-term damage to the locals. 

With all aspects of our lives going green and sustainable, it is the need of the hour that we work on building sustainable events to minimise the environmental impact they have on the planet.

What are sustainable events? 

Sustainable events or green events are planned by keeping the environment at the centre and in a way that reduces energy emissions, waste production, and resource exploitation. Sustainable events also have a positive social and economic impact on the local community in which it is held. 

Here is how you can create a sustainable and green event

  • Using sustainable energy 

Opting for sustainable energy should be the first step towards building a green event. Using solar, wind or hydropower to run the event will help significantly reduce Co2 emissions. 

  • Choose eco-friendly venues 

When looking for venues, look for places that use renewable energy to power their operations. Other than that, there are many inventive ways to carry out green initiatives such as having recycling stations in every room, smart room temperature monitoring, and using reusable materials. 

In Southeast Asian countries keeping the temperature of the venue between 24-25 degrees instead of 16-17 degrees helps in providing appropriate cooling and lower carbon emissions at the same time.

  • Make it carbon neutral 

A CO2 calculator can be used to calculate how much CO2 is likely to be produced by your event. After having an idea about CO2 emission, the following steps can be taken to reduce it

  • Inviting local guests 
  • Providing attendees with an option to attend the event virtually
  • Arranging public transport for people coming from nearby 
  • Reduce water usage

You can lessen the environmental impact of your event by lowering the amount of water used there. Encourage attendees to bring their reusable water bottles and place water replenishing stations throughout the site rather than giving out plastic water bottles. This guarantees that just the necessary amount of water is used.

Also, consider avoiding table water. Instead of filling jugs with gallons of water that would be wasted, you may ask them if they would like a glass of water.

  • Go plastic free

We are all aware of the harmful effects that plastic has on the environment. Therefore, while planning an event it is necessary to ensure that plastic products are not used. Replacing plastic cups with reusable glasses and using metal or wooden cutlery and reusable plates for meals should be the first step towards reducing plastic. 

  • Maximise the use of LED and natural lights 

LED lights are significantly better for the environment than traditional fluorescent lights. Use LED lighting to improve energy efficiency and lower carbon footprints. Also, it’s critical to select outside locations with natural light, have the event during the summer, and maximise natural light.

  • Switch to digital swag bags

Most of the merchandise such as tote bags, notepads, pens etc kept for attendees in an event end up in a bin. Instead of physical swag bags use digital swag bags

  • Define boundaries 

While planning, the boundaries of the event should be well defined in terms of all the touch points from where carbon emission is happening this includes hotels, setting up and dismantling the event, side venues etc. 

  • Implement a zero-waste policy 

Zero waste policy can be achieved with careful planning, such as 

  • Using digital agenda instead of printing 
  • Ban on the use of plastic in the event arena 
  • Donating or recycling food instead of throwing it away 
  • Source local and organic food

You can cut the amount of CO2 emitted at your event by offering food that is locally produced. This is because local food will require less carbon to transport than food that comes from a distance.

Also, choosing to serve organic food minimises the association of your event with the usage of hazardous chemicals that might harm the environment.

Implementing these steps can help greatly in building a fully sustainable event with little or zero impact on the environment. 

On top of these steps, an event of any size can be made more sustainable with ISO 20121. It offers guidance and best practice to help you manage your event and control its social, economic and environmental impact.

For event organisers, it is important to keep upskilling in sustainability and broaden the knowledge spectrum to develop sustainable and innovative ideas. Green Events tool (GET) is a free tool developed by the United Nation Environment Program that can be used to make an event sustainable and climate-friendly.

Also, National Environment Agency in Singapore has published a reduction toolkit which has resources to make an event sustainable. In today’s time, minimising the negative effects of an event, meeting, or conference ranks highly in the commercial and social spheres all over the world. Your event should benefit the environment, you, and your attendees by making these simple, thoughtful changes.

Level up your events with Gevme’s omnichannel event platform

Share this article

We are pleased to announce updates to our privacy policy, reinforcing our commitment to safeguarding your rights. Please click here to review the changes.