Going Green: 5 Ideas for Sustainable Public Events

“What about crying whales?

We’re ravaging the seas

What about forest trails?

Burnt despite our pleas”

—-The Earth Song

I will owe my sensitization towards the environment to the legendary Michael Jackson. In the video, a girl saving a frail sapling against the backdrop of environmental destruction is moving. Concerns over the degrading quality of nature around the globe have become more vocal now. 

The invention of plastic and other toxic and non-biodegradable material, greenhouse gases, and effluents over the years set a butterfly effect in motion. Consequently, we are currently facing the consequences. Organizations like the United Nations, Extinction Rebellion, and the World Economic Forum along with environmental activists such as Greta Thunberg, Dr. Shelly Miller, Jeffery Smith, etc., are fighting against climate change. 

Awareness and consciousness among millennials over climate are changing their perception. Therefore, consumers are now on the lookout for brands that support sustainability. This is why B2B and B2C businesses are planning their strategies around sustainable development. In the light of the UN’s 17 SDGs or Sustainable Development Goals, event management companies have pledged to organize greener events.  

How to Organise Green Events

Fiona Pelham is the MD of Positive Impacts Events. She passionately advocates organising green events. She explains that if an event is for donation, we are fulfilling SDG-1, i.e. no poverty. If you provide leftover food to the poor, you are committing towards SDG-2, i.e. zero hunger. Additionally, SDG-3 is about good health and we can participate and sponsor wellness programs to support it.

But, the question is how to make these events green. Here are some ideas that can make a difference. 

Green Buildings

It has nothing to do with painting the venue green! A building can be branded as a green building if it has certain features. International Standard Organisation gives an ISO 20121 certification to events and buildings to recognise them as environment friendly. 

If you are unable to find any building, make sure they follow a strict sustainable regime. The venue may have an in-house robust waste management system, recycling pits, solar panels, portable green toilets, etc. You can ask for a detailed blueprint of their initiatives to measure the impact of your event, such as:-

  • Minimising waste
  • Reducing carbon emission
  • Sociological impact
  • Economic impact

Also make certain that:

  • The venue is easily accessible via public transport
  • Adequate lodging space for cutting fuel costs in commuting between accommodation and venue
  • The venue is installed with fuel-efficient electronic items

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Say No To Single-Use Plastic

The United Nations Environment Programme has reported that 69 countries have banned plastic bags while 32 nations have levied a fee on them. European Union has also banned plastic from 2021. Waste managers around the world report single-use plastic as a leading source of pollution.

You can replace plastic cutlery with wooden or bamboo spoons and plates. Paper straws can be used too. Instead of focusing on providing water bottles, install potable water taps at different locations to avoid generating any waste at all. 

Do Not Waste Food

If we rely on a report by the United Nations, rich countries waste approx. Two hundred twenty-two million tons of food every year are equal to the total food produced in Africa’s Sub-Sahara region. Globally, one-third of food is waste. It is not just about feeding the poor. Waste food lands up in dumping grounds emanating greenhouse gases like methane on a large scale collectively. 

For hosted events, managers can arrange the food for the number of estimated guests. You can engage local vendors for catering arrangements to ensure the food is available if you run short. 

Instead of serving guests with too many varieties of food to choose from, serve them a limited but good variety of food. You may enter into a pre-event accord with local food donation camps or industries that use food waste, compost manufacturers, and livestock feeding. 

Use Recyclable Products

Say no to using single-use plastic in the form of bottles, cups, utensils, etc. It’s importnat to limit the use of plastic and polythene. If you use them, make sure you recycle after use. Steel, glass, or china-tableware can be washed after serving food. You can use them if your budget allows. 

If food packets are distributed, every participant must be encouraged not to litter around and dispose of them in dustbins or waste compactors. Encourage participants to carry water with them at all times to avoid purchasing water bottles. Sachets of sugar, salt, coffee, and tea must be collected and recycled accordingly. 

Provide Utilitarian Promotional Merchandise

Promotional items like keychains and T-shirts end up in waste bins. Here are some green promotional ideas:

  • Recycled notebooks
  • Plant pot and seeds
  • Recycled tote bags
  • Chinaware mugs and cutlery

By employing these methods, you can successfully organise a green event with minimum impact on the environment

Author: Gaby Alex