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How To Host A Sustainable Event

21 Feb 20 By: Lene McGuinness

Sustainability in the events industry has now become an important requirement. From corporate events to private soirées and public events, keeping your event as green as possible is not only expected by your attendees, but it can also save you money.

Sustainable event management is now part of the industry's lexicon. According to the International Standards Organisation (ISO), sustainable event management is the integration of environmental and social responsibility into your regular event planning process. This also includes thinking about the impact your event will have on the local environment and the local population. Known as ISO 20121 standard, this policy is rooted in the philosophy that every action counts and has been developed by several stakeholders and takes into account all stages of an event's supply chain. 

How to organise a sustainable event

To make your event as sustainable as possible, set a charter that all stakeholders can view and follow. This is a good place to start.

A green charter or policy can include:

- Your requirements for a venue e.g. electricity and water use.

- Requirements for vendors and exhibitors e.g. if you have food vendors at your event, you can encourage them or, if possible, make it a requirement that any food containers used are either reusable, recyclable or compostable.

- Requirements for attendees e.g. you could inform your delegates that plastic water bottles will not be available and encourage them to bring their own reusable water bottles and that water refilling points will be available.

- How you intend to reduce waste such as plastic and what you will do with excess food.

- How you will deal with the rubbish generated by your event e.g. how you plan to clean up or what you will do with what is left behind. 

- Educate your attendees, exhibitors and vendors about your green goals and the difference you hope they will make.

Choosing a green venue

When it comes to choosing a green venue, there are several factors to take into consideration such as:

- Location – if possible, choose a venue that is easily accessible by public transport and ensure there is bike parking available. This will encourage your attendees not to use their car when travelling to your event.

- The venue’s green energy credentials – some venues use solar power or wind turbines as part of their energy mix. There is also a Green Tourism accreditation scheme that many venues and hotels can apply for. There are three levels of accreditation: bronze, silver and gold. An official green tourism assessor then checks up on the claims made.

- The venue’s water consumption – saving water and water efficiency should be on your checklist when choosing a sustainable green venue.

- Ethical buying and sustainable food and beverage practices - check your venue’s policies on purchasing ingredients, how they treat their suppliers and support the local community.

Accreditations such as Green Tourism, BREEAM and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) can help you determine which as the 'best in show' when it comes to sustainable venues.  

How to reduce plastic waste in an event?

Events large or small can be a source of a lot of unwanted waste. It is no surprise that each year the vast majority of this waste will end up in landfill or if you’re hosting an outdoor event, the waste may end up in the nation’s waterways. We are becoming increasingly aware of the impact our plastic consumption has on our environment. Not only is it an unsightly blotch on our surroundings, but it harms both wildlife and aquatic life. If you are hosting an event, there are things you can do to reduce your plastic consumption. 

Hire tableware

Whether you're planning a conference, seminar, product launch or a pop-up event, you do not need to use disposable plates or cups. You can hire all your tableware needs, catering equipment and furniture hire from companies like us here at Allens Hire. You can hire whatever you need for your table including plates, bowls, cups, crockery, canape platters and more. Everything you hire from us will be cleaned and reused again, so you don’t have to worry about doing the washing up. Simply put the dirty dishes back in the box they came in and we will take care of the rest. Also, if you hire china coffee and teacups, you can rest assured that your event has not contributed to the 2.5 million disposable hot drinks cups that are thrown away annually in the UK.

Hire linen and napkins

There is no need to use paper napkins for an event. While figures are not available for the UK, it is estimated that in the US, Americans are using 693 billion napkins per year. That's a lot of napkins! Most of these disposable napkins find their way into landfill or are left as litter at the event's location. Paper napkins and tablecloths can undeniably be a cheap and cheerful option, but both are bad for the environment. Opt instead for cloth napkins and tablecloths which will add a sense of quality and can be reused again and again.

Hire glassware

While there are times when you may be required to use plastic glasses for safety reasons, in most cases, there is no need to use disposable glassware. It is possible to hire glasses made of real glass or crystal. Not only does real glassware look better, it also enhances your wine and cocktail offerings. Some wine glasses are designed to bring the best out of a wine, such as our collection of Riedel grape specific glasses. Again, like with hiring tableware, there is no need to worry about the washing up, as we will take care of that.

By hiring what you need for your event instead of buying single-use disposable items, you can help reduce the waste your event produces and save money. Some venues and councils will charge for waste collection and the more waste there is, and if it is not recyclable, then they may charge more. If you need to hire catering equipment or furniture for an event, then contact Allens Hire today.

Buy local

Whether you are hosting a large or small event, buying local can make a difference. From buying locally roasted coffee to ensuring the food your serve is seasonal, sourced nearby. Buying local can have a positive impact on the local economy and keeps local businesses trading and people in jobs.

Also, buying local tends to be the greener option as produce and materials have had to travel fewer miles and may have been made more sustainably and ethically.

Work with local charities and NGOs to help reduce food and material waste

If you anticipate having leftover food or materials, then get in contact with local charities to see if they would be interested in taking what you have left at the end of your event. From uneaten sandwiches to unused or abandoned stationery and goods, you can help make a difference by collaborating with local organisations. One well-publicised initiative where materials are recycled is the agreement festivals such as Glastonbury has in place with charities to reclaim abandoned tents and sleeping bags. However, be careful how you communicate such initiatives, as festivals have seen abandonment levels rise where they publicise tents will go to charities, and this has led to an increase in the number of tents ending up in the landfill.

Sustainable event ideas

It’s a well-known saying that ‘small things can make a big difference’ who exactly said this remains disputed, but when it comes to making your event more sustainable – small acts do make a difference. The small acts philosophy can feed into encouraging your attendees, vendors and exhibitors into more environmentally positive behaviours. Here are some other event ideas that can make all the difference to your event’s green credentials.

  • Another way to help reduce your plastic consumption is to reuse materials wherever possible. If you use badges, lanyards or ribbons then encourage your attendees to hand them back in at the end of the event. Then, you can reuse them at your next event.
  • Organise recycling stations and ensure they are well signposted
  • Encourage your caterers and food vendors to offer dishes made from sustainable, local produce and offer at least one vegetarian or vegan dish.
  • If you need to use a generator, consider using a solar generator rather than a petrol generator.

When organising a sustainable event, it is important to remember that even one small change can make a big difference. When starting on a greener path, changing one or two things to a more sustainable solution is the best way to begin - don’t do everything at once.

For more information on hiring reusable catering equipment and furniture for an event, contact Allens Hire today on 0208 574 9600.