Small Carbon Footprint, Big Event Plans
How To Plan and Design for a Carbon-Neutral Event
As event industry professionals, we have a unique platform to make real differences in pollution created by large events. Everything from the onsite signage you choose to the collateral you provide can affect the event’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. Each decision you make is an opportunity to reduce or offset your carbon footprint and support a healthy environment. Creating a carbon-neutral event requires forethought, creativity, and commitment, but along with lowering the carbon released you are usually also saving money and showing your sponsors and attendees that you are a forward-thinking company.
At Omnience™ we understand the pressure on event and meeting designers to create memorable events and use innovative methods to be environmentally friendly. Our event planning consultants have compiled their best ideas for keeping your carbon footprint small, even for your big events.
Reduce Trash Realistically
Of course, the first step towards creating a carbon-neutral event that springs to mind is reducing the trash output. However, it is important to balance comfort with efficiency when designing events. Don’t go wild on slashing all plastic or disposables from your event, but rather focus on getting the biggest reward for your effort.
Many event planning consultants for corporate events and meetings see name badges as a necessity, while others can easily nix them. People love hearing their own names during a conversation, and name badges provide a great source of immediately pertinent information for attendees while networking. However, they are often a big source of trash after an event.
If you know your event attendees will have a more successful and pleasant experience with name badges, keep them in the plans! Simply set up a collection station at the end of the event, or ask some of your team members to hold baskets and collect them at the exit doors. This way, you can either save them for the next event or recycle them (most vinyl ones are recyclable). For an efficient and fun way to get your attendees involved, Melissa Anunson from P/Cnametag suggests turning guests’ name badges into raffle tickets. Collect paper name inserts and vinyl holders separately before the event’s last session. Then, you can easily draw a winner from the name tags, and your attendees have done the work of sorting them for you!
If you want to make a bigger statement with your name badges, check out some alternatives. Artisan lanyards made out of recycled materials, like these Flyvines made out of fly-fishing line, are environmentally friendly as well as a nice gift to guests. Engraved bamboo name badges look upscale and let your attendees know your commitment to using sustainable materials.
The once-ubiquitous plastic straws are now the focus of the green community, which means there are lots of options available. You could opt to ditch them altogether depending on your meeting or event’s beverage situation, but take into account that many people with disabilities count on plastic straws to be able to drink. You could choose an alternative such as metal or paper to offer, which have the benefit of coming in lots of festive designs.
The biggest offender of plastic pollution is the single-use cup. These fill up trash bins quickly, requiring more maintenance attention, more plastic garbage bags, and loads of possibly unrecyclable plastic ending up in the landfill. Deciding on a plan to reduce the amount of plastic cups your event produces is a great place to start when planning a carbon-neutral event. You can offer reusable cups and bottles or, better yet, ask attendees to bring their own to fill. When you are designing your event, make sure you have beverage refill stations conveniently located.
Go With High-Tech Collateral
From brochures to business cards, traditional corporate meetings and events rely heavily on paper products—but they don’t have to! Reaching for that carbon-neutral event goal means getting creative with embracing high-tech answers to traditional communication dissemination.
Utilizing digital onsite signage can not only reduce your trash output, but also elevate your event’s level of interaction with attendees. We count that as a win! Everything from room navigation to the conference schedule can be digitized for a better attendee experience without all the waste. Unlike traditional paper onsite signage, a digital display can be easily updated to reflect the most up-to-date information.
Creating an event app is easier than it seems and can revolutionize the way you communicate with your attendees. Instead of gathering brochures, business cards, schedules, and flyers, they can keep all of that important information right on their smartphones. They can interact with your social media, take surveys, and connect with speakers and other attendees right through the app. Then, you can use Ontrac™ to analyze the event in real time—no paper brochure can do that.
By encouraging the use of social media handles instead of business cards, attendees can network without the paper trail. Even better, apps like One Card and Haystack help you create digital business cards. These platforms allow you to immediately save your contacts’ information, and can even update automatically.
Recognition and Reward
The most important part of planning any carbon-neutral event is marketing it to your attendees. This will help build the buzz for what kind of event they can expect, as well as let them in on your goals for sustainability. A fun way of including your attendees is holding challenges for them to earn prizes, such as gift cards. Did they bring their own water bottle? Did they use a digital business card instead of a paper one? Did they carpool to the event? Bring these green actions into focus and thank attendees for their contribution to your carbon-neutral goal.
Event planning consultants are influencers for their events, and it is a noble goal to use that control to positively affect our environment. Creating a carbon-neutral event is a worthy task that we at Omnience take seriously. Whether you are new to the green events scene or want some fresh ideas on how you can cut your emissions even more, contact our event professionals for guidance.