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The ultimate guide to plan a sustainable event

by Tixtree on Fri, 11 Aug 2023 in Event planning

Organising events that are sustainable, green, and ethical is no longer just a preference for the public; it has become a demand. People want to support events that align with their interest in protecting the planet, and they are willing to use their wallets to do so. The good news is that creating a sustainable event doesn't require you to be an environmental expert, and contrary to popular belief, it's not more expensive.

This guide presents seven steps you can take to make your event sustainable, enabling you to strengthen connections with your audience, attract like-minded attendees, and contribute to environmental preservation.

What does it mean to organise a sustainable event?

A sustainable event is planned, organised, and executed with the goal of minimising its environmental, social, and economic impacts throughout its entire lifecycle. This includes the initial conception of the event, throughout all stages of its planning and implementation, until its conclusion.

How to plan a sustainable event: 7 Steps

1. Communication and marketing

The way you communicate your sustainability goals impacts the image of your event.

  1. Brand your green initiatives: an effective way to communicate your sustainable initiatives is to encapsulate them under a theme or slogan. “Love the Farm, Leave No Trace” is the Glastonbury Festival campaign which aims to be one of the greenest and cleanest events in the world. It has been designed to involve participants and get them to think about their impact on waste generation and disposal.
  2. Partner with NGOs: partnering with an environmental NGO is a great way to increase the chances of success of your sustainability strategy and improve your image and credibility. Find the one that best suits your needs. The London-based charity Julie’s Bicycle, for example, supports the creative community to act on climate crisis and environmental sustainability through partnerships and collaboration. Global Inheritance a non-profit organisation has served as a creative partner and incubator to assist large events, organisations, and businesses in raising awareness for improving the environment and global social well-being.
  3. Avoid greenwash: stay away from greenwashing practices! In addition to ruining the positive impact of the sustainability movement, you will negatively damage your brand reputation, with serious consequences for your image and turnover. Don't hide behind green ideals to make people think you are doing more to protect the environment than it really is, be honest and make sure you do what you say you will.
  4. Discover sponsors: engaging the appropriate stakeholders in the planning of your event can significantly enhance your sustainability efforts. Seek out individuals or organisations that align with your objectives and can sponsor specific initiatives, such as financing waste management. For instance, a transportation company might provide shuttle services for attendees, or you could collaborate with a brand that offers products or gadgets to those who participate in sustainable activities.

2. Food and beverage

Make conscious choices about food and beverage options to positively impact the environment and attendees' well-being.

  1. Consider food miles: make your food supply have a positive impact on the environment, local economy and people's well-being. Request food that is locally grown, in season, and made by locals.
  2. Accommodate dietary needs: ensure vegetarian and vegan options and, if circumstances require, ensure that the religious or cultural dietary needs of your attendees are respected.
  3. Don't waste water: recognise the value of water and take steps to minimise wastage. Whenever possible, choose tap water over bottled water to reduce plastic usage. Promote the "Take what you need" approach by providing convenient access to water through large dispensers or carafes. Opting for a plant-based menu can also help eliminate indirect water waste.

3. Minimise waste

Efficient waste management is crucial for a sustainable event.

Implement the three R's - reduce, reuse, and recycle: minimise waste related to food, plastic, paper, and packaging. Ensure proper waste separation by providing clearly visible and easily accessible containers for paper, plastic, metal, and organic waste. Engage your audience by offering recycling incentives or prizes. After the event, explore options to reuse materials for future events or consider donating to charities. If you're up for a challenge, you can embrace the Zero Waste philosophy, which focuses on practical tools to eliminate waste rather than simply managing it.

4. Transportation

Address transportation-related emissions to reduce the environmental impact of your event.

  1. Choose an accessible venue: the transportation of products and people for your event significantly contributes to CO2 emissions. To reduce these emissions, you can choose an event venue that is easily accessible by public transport.
  2. Incentivise public transportation: consider incentivising attendees to use public transportation by offering rewards, such as vouchers for on-site use, for those who leave their cars at home. Additionally, provide helpful resources like maps, timetables, and other useful information about local public transport to make it easier for attendees to utilise these options. Look to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and Arts Festival as an example, where they have implemented various initiatives, including the Carpoolchella campaign, to promote carpooling and minimise the festival's environmental impact.

5. Energy and emissions

Efficiently manage energy consumption and reduce emissions during your event.

Take steps to reduce energy consumption and emissions: implementing energy efficiency measures can effectively reduce the environmental impact of energy usage during events. Prioritise moderate use of air conditioning, heating, and cooling systems. Opt for energy-saving light bulbs and explore the possibility of utilising solar energy to power your event. If electricity is required, investigate the option of purchasing renewable energy from your utility provider. When generators are necessary, consider those capable of utilising biodiesel or biodiesel blends, and seek out local biodiesel suppliers who can provide fuel in bulk.

One notable organisation, REVERB, a nonprofit that collaborates with musicians, venues, and festivals, has been at the forefront of the green movement in the music industry since 2004. They offer, a valuable resource with tips on how to make events more sustainable.

6. Water and toilet management

Proper water management is crucial throughout all stages of an event, encompassing both the supply of drinking water and the management of wastewater.

  1. Efficient water supply: implement measures to minimise water consumption. Use water-saving technologies and practices to ensure efficient water usage throughout the event. Consider utilising water-efficient fixtures and equipment, such as low-flow faucets and toilets.
  2. Eco-friendly toilets: traditional portable toilets contribute to environmental challenges due to high water consumption, chemical usage, and transportation of supplies. Consider eco-friendly alternatives like composting toilets. These toilets operate on ecological composting principles, conserving energy, reducing water usage, and eliminating the need for chemicals. An excellent example is the Shambala festival, which utilises organic composting material from compost toilets to fertilise the soil at the event location.
  3. Wastewater management: properly manage wastewater generated during the event. Implement effective systems for collecting, treating, and reusing wastewater when feasible. Utilise eco-friendly wastewater treatment technologies and explore options for recycling and reusing treated water.

7. Embrace the hybrid approach

Hybrid events offer numerous advantages, such as inclusivity, affordability, and sustainability. This approach allows for reaching a broader audience while minimising the environmental impact.

  1. Inclusive experiences: offer virtual attendance options for those unable to travel or prefer remote participation. Provide high-quality live streaming, interactive sessions, and virtual networking opportunities to create an immersive virtual experience.
  2. Reduced environmental impact: by incorporating virtual elements into your event, you can significantly reduce carbon emissions associated with travel and decrease overall resource consumption. Virtual attendance eliminates the need for transportation, reduces energy usage at the venue, and minimises waste generation.
  3. Affordability and accessibility: hybrid events can be more affordable for attendees, as they eliminate the costs associated with travel and accommodation. Additionally, virtual attendance allows people from different locations to participate, promoting inclusivity and accessibility.

For example, INBOUND, offers both in-person and virtual tickets, ensuring attendees can enjoy a dedicated experience regardless of their location.

Bonus Step: utilise an environmentally-focused ticketing platform

In addition to the previous steps, choosing an environmentally-focused ticketing platform like Tixtree can further enhance the sustainability of your event. Tixtree is committed to fighting against deforestation and promoting a healthier, greener planet. By using Tixtree, you actively contribute to these efforts while creating a positive impact.

Make sure to inform your attendees about your choice of an environmentally-focused ticketing platform. Share the impact of Tixtree through the available resources in your event overview. This way, your audience will understand that purchasing tickets not only grants them access to an amazing event but also allows them to contribute to the protection of our planet.

Sustainable event management is no longer a fleeting trend; it has become the new norm. Green events are rapidly becoming the standard, so it's essential to be prepared and stay ahead of the curve. By implementing these sustainable practices, you can create an event that not only meets the expectations of your audience but also contributes to the preservation of the planet.