Sustainable Events

What is the last event, trade show, sales conference, seminar, street fair or music concert you attended? Think about the number of people who attended. Think about the waste that was generated. Eeek! You can only imagine!

As you already know, waste reduction is one of my favourite things to talk about these days. So when I came across the article in ABC News about Ekka last week and the “240 tonnes of waste produced from the 10-day event”, I knew I had to write my next blog post about waste-free events.

Imagine this; you attend a large expo or music concert where there is ZERO single use plastic packaging, the food vendors serve meals on compostable plates and with bamboo cutlery. Stallholders hand out quality, reusable promotional items that you actually will keep and there is not an overflowing garbage bins to be seen, only compost and recycling stations. This is the dream of a zero-waste event and it is feasible.

Event coordinators, marketing managers, venue managers and council officers can advocate for low waste events by implementing policies that encourage sustainable practices by stallholders and attendees at their events.

Here are five things you can do to ensure your next event is a more sustainable one.

1. Clear Communication

So you’ve decided to implement policies for a low waste event. Excellent, but stallholders may be confused about your policies. To gain commitment plan ahead and send out a pre-event info pack educating all stallholders and sponsors about your low waste event policies and ideas. This can be sent as an email .pdf document, a series of email newsletters or as an ebook.

2. Eco Packaging

Packaging is typically the most common type of waste at events but there are many ways to reduce packaging waste. For example; food vendors can use sauce pumps, biodegradable plates, cutlery and serviettes. Mandate a zero tolerance to single use plastic straws, packaging and water bottles. This is actually more cost effective for food vendors as it costs less to provide less cutlery and packaging.

3. Clear Signage

Clear and eye catching signage is essential to ensure compliance of recycling and composting. Ensure you plan the number of bins and location appropriately and always have the bins as stations not stand alone bins. It is also wise to have a waste manager to monitor bin usage and empty or coordinate extra bins if required.

4. Promotional Items & Show Bags

Stallholders and exhibitors hand out promotional items with the goal of getting their brand in front of as many eyes as possible. Often these are gimmicky, plastic items that go straight in the bin or sit in a desk drawer. With the growing concern and awareness around single use plastic there is a huge customer demand for businesses to adopt more sustainable options. By giving customers eco-friendly promotional items you are sending an important message that you care about the planet and stand out as a symbol of social and environmental awareness.

According to a survey by Nielsen, “81% of global consumers say it’s extremely or very important for companies to implement programs to improve environment.”

Add to that, “38% said they would pay higher than average prices for products made with sustainable materials.”

Custom printed, reusable items are an effective way to get your brand logo seen on a regular basis which is an excellent marketing opportunity for businesses who care about the environment. Curious about what eco-friendly promotional items you can offer? Download my top picks list of waste free promotional items (and contact me if you need help designing them. wink wink.)

Download my Top Picks for
Waste-Free Promotional Items

5. Review & Rave

After your event don’t forget to review what worked and what needs improvement so you can make changes for the next event. Take note of the achievements in waste reduction and rave to your stallholders and sponsors about the impact their efforts had. The positive encouragment will surely trickle down to business and lifestyle changes.

Sustainability is not just for the “eco-sector” or big businesses with money to invest. Developing a sustainability policy is something EVERY. SINGLE. BUSINESS large and small should adopt. It’s both economically and environmentally wise and a good marketing opportunity for businesses to stand out as forward thinking.

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