How to Run a Sustainable Event

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We all know that we ought to be more sustainable and ethical in our practices and the vast majority of us want to. First up, Managing Director and events aficionado Hannah Luffman of Unicorn Events Ltd. gives us her guide on the top 7 ways to run sustainable events.

As event planners, it is our responsibility to drive the changes in our industry and while we understand we don’t all have time to chain ourselves to an oil rig demonstration, we do have the power to make small changes, with a big impact.

Manage Food Wastage

Food waste on an event (any event) is the single greatest damaging resource of our industry. We never want to run the risk of not having enough food, so we over-cater and therefore we waste.

Not only is being sustainable about being realistic with your initial purchasing it is about having a plan in place for the post-event waste.

There are huge health and safety barriers in our way with venue disclaimers and laws prohibiting us from donating cooked food to homeless shelters and the like but there is nothing to say we can’t walk it off the premises.

Donate packaged items to local food banks, get your staff and crew to take it home, or even just pop it in a bag and help those less fortunate on your walk home.

Recycle

You don’t have to go paperless, we couldn’t do it at Unicorn Events so we wouldn’t preach to you to do what we can’t practice!

You should, however, recycle what you do use. The main reason people don’t recycle is that the facilities are not immediately obvious.

Put recycling bins in front of your regular waste and make it very clear what can and cannot be recycled. Then find out, in detail, what the venue does with that waste.

Buy Local

This is so important. Don’t take your production crew from the UK – they have technicians abroad. Do the same for all your suppliers because the supply chain only works if we create revenue and business opportunities for the host community.

Not only will it reduce carbon emissions on your travel it will help to create a sustainable event in the local market. This also goes for the venue, they should be buying local wine and local produce and not importing it, don’t go to France and pick a Spanish wine!

Washing

Do you wash your towels and bedding daily at home? If you do, you are a saint, and you also have some cleaning issues.

Check with your venue what their policy is on towel washing and reduce the amount of soapy suds going through the machine by informing your delegates you will not be washing any hotel items unless requested if the event is less than 3-5 days. 90% of them won’t mind one little bit.

Group Transfers

300 attendees and nearly 300 taxis? Not ideal. Add on shuttle coaches and group transfers to reduce emissions and protect your local community.

The best way to do this is to provide group transfers and not let employees expense individual taxis, you will soon see an uptake in the use of your 50 seater bus!

Use Students as Event Staff

Our industry cannot move forward if we don’t develop and support the next generation of superstars. Not only is it good for your budget it can make a real difference to the development of that individual’s skills and career path.

Make sure they are rewarded appropriately, pay a minimum wage, cover expenses and provide them with a reference for their portfolio.

Speak Up

Most people in the event supply chain want to help make a difference. By opening the conversation about sustainability in events, you will uncover new channels to help make your event both more sustainable and more ethical.

By letting everyone from the venue to your delegates know you care about being green you will get them invested in the notion too!

It’s not easy being green, it is easy to try.

If you want to get in contact with Hannah or the Unicorn Events team you can email her on hannah@unicorneventsltd.com, or give the team a tweet @unicorneventltd.

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