The rise of sustainable events: what you need to know
A focus on sustainability and reducing your carbon footprint is here to stay. We are already observing the rise of businesses with an ESG or sustainability policy, and businesses and individuals are now expecting the same standards to be applied to events. Whether that is a business-to-business, social, arts or charitable function, the ‘sustainability lens’ is being applied to all events.
As in-person events begin to make a return, there is an increasing need for efforts to be made to bring them in line with global net-zero goals and sustainability aims.
We believe we can only progress forward if we share our knowledge and skills in this area. Events Consultant Natalie Davidson and Senior Account Executive, Krista Osborne have shared some quick and easy tactics they have been implementing at events which Black Vanilla has helped deliver or that we will be introducing to events this year.
- Host the event programme on your website or via a website like issu.com and send out a link to attendees beforehand.
- Try creating a QR code to link to any material you need for your event and display it on a screen on-site for attendees to scan on arrival.
- You can use the same on-site screens to display your event table plan, an outline of the running order and sponsor branding.
- Mix local expertise with off-island speakers relayed on screen to reduce the need to fly people to the island. This also gives you to the opportunity to secure speakers and expertise from much further afield as well as introduce different formats – pre-recorded and live interviews and films – to the event.
- Introduce a hybrid format with an in-person event supplemented by a live stream. Or record the event to release it at a later date to increase the reach of your audience.
Use what we already have
- It seems obvious, but use local suppliers to rent furniture, linen and room dressing for example, rather than bringing equipment in from off-island. We have begun renting plants for our room dressing, which is impactful and very cost effective.
- If you do need to print signage, don’t date it and keep the branding simple so you can use it again for a future event.
- How many glasses do you need on the table? By just have one wine glass rather than two on each place setting, you could avoid the need to wash hundreds of glasses.
- Serve tap water in jugs to eliminate the need to recycle glass bottles
The ‘10-mile menu’
- As far as possible, ensure the food served at your event is seasonal and supports local growers and producers. This may not work for larger events as it is not always possible for local producers to provide certain ingredients on that scale.
- If this is the case, ask your venue or caterer to ensure that any supplementary ingredients brought in from off island come from sustainable producers who share your principles.
- Extend this idea to your wine list. Do you need to have wines imported from New Zealand or America? You can have a list of purely British and French wines sourced from sustainable vineyards or organically produced.
Get creative with branding
- Edible rice paper discs with the sponsor logo could top the dessert; tie the napkins with branded seeded paper napkin rings or have seed bomb gifts, which attendees can take home and plant.
- Invest in reusable water bottles and have your branding etched onto the glass
- Brand biscuits, put a QR code on a cookie or put your logo on a cupcake
- Put your logo onto a fruit sticker and give your guests a healthy snack to take back to the office
Keep corporate gifting local
- Continue your low-mile pledge and support local businesses for gifts. There is a huge range of local businesses producing sustainable and plastic-free products.
- Instead of a corporate gift for your guests, consider making a donation to a local charity instead
There are always ways to improve and going forward, the journey to net zero is just that, a journey; along the way, we will strive to ensure we are hosting the most sustainable events possible. Sometimes this isn’t possible, and the only option is to carbon offset some elements.
To keep the local theme, find an on-island project to ensure the benefits are felt locally.
Whatever you decide, it’s paramount to keep sustainability at the forefront in decision-making. Those seen to have an environmental focus will create a positive reputation and will reap the rewards with a guilt-free conscience.
If you’d like support with creating a sustainable event, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.