An Event Planner’s Guide to Hosting Green Events

In the events industry, event professionals are constantly looking for ways to go green and create more eco-friendly event plans. From cleaning and waste management to sustainable decor options, there is so much more to producing an environmentally friendly event than just putting a recycling bin in the corner of the room. 

Wired Production Group has been taking steps to learn all about green events and providing high quality event and video production services while making a low environmental impact. The world of audio visual and event production is known for its high energy consumption, and we want to help correct this. With every LED fixture in the warehouse, reusable water bottle in the office, and investment into more energy-friendly event technologies for our productions, we know we’re headed in the right direction to help green the AV industry. 

Here are some of the most important things our team of event professionals has learned about making your event planning efforts more sustainable. 

Choosing The Right Venue

Not every venue you research for your event is open to supporting green initiatives – and that’s okay! You’re allowed to make your own plan of action within a venue that works for you. First, consider the amount of travel that will be required for your attendees. If you’re choosing an event venue that’s centrally located for your demographic, you’re reducing overall travel required to get your attendees to your location.

Next, if you know what city or state you’re hosting your event, be sure to find an event venue that offers public transportation nearby, sufficient lodging, and open meeting space that eliminates the commute. If that just isn’t possible, you can partner with local carpool service providers, such as shuttle bus or motorcoach services,  to reduce overall fuel consumption of attendees. According to a study by the American Bus Association, the greenest travel option is transportation by motorcoach. When utilizing services to transport 30+ attendees at a time, it is a good idea to offer multiple pickup times and locations to allow your attendees flexibility.

Shuttle bus parked outside downtown hotel with bright street lighting

Windstar offers minibus and motorcoach shuttle service options to clients across the United States

When you’re thinking about how your attendees are going to find your event, don’t waste resources on printed venue maps or signage. Many event venues are technologically advanced with more energy-efficient electronic signage. If your venue doesn’t already have electronic signage, you can connect with the right AV partner and utilize digital signage yourself.

Four male event attendees use touch-screen digital signage to navigate information for an event

Finding Eco-Friendly Event Décor

Believe it or not, it is possible to decorate for your event while keeping your carbon footprint in check! When you’re in the process of choosing your event venue, the easiest thing to do is consider an outdoor venue that offers that natural lighting and glorious landscape that we all know and love. With the sun providing you all the lighting you would need during the daytime hours, you’re only going to need additional lighting for the afternoon and evening parts of your event schedule. Where there is moonlight, there is mood lighting, but there’s always the option to bring in high-quality LED lighting fixtures for the best look and lowest energy impact on your event.

Outdoor event space with palm trees and two large globe light fixtures along with LED colored uplighting offers a unique lighting display

When looking for table decorations, it’s going to be ideal to use table linens rather than disposable tablecloths. Many local event service companies offer table linens for rent, if you’d prefer to avoid purchasing them and having to clean and store them.

White and gold reusable dinnerware is plated on white linen tablecloths with glassware and succulent and floral accent centerpieces

R&D Events in Cedar Rapids, Iowa offers dinnerware, linen, and decor rental options to clients

If you’re looking for giveaway items for your attendees, there are many green options available. Any promotional product that is considered eco-friendly is based on the materials it’s made from or the use of the product itself.  You may be interested in reusable water bottles, homemade sweet treats, succulents, or soy candles. Get creative and brand your giveaway items to get the maximum value.

Reduce Waste at Your Event

One of the most natural things for any event planner to think about: how can I reduce waste at my event? Start with the basics: avoid single use plastics. Ditch the plastic cups, plates, and silverware and replace them with reusable tableware or compostable cutlery and containers. Many green caterers provide these types of serving products with their menus. Green caterers typically don’t offer buffet options to reduce food waste. These caterers focus on being cost-effective and environmentally friendly from the moment they source their seasonal, local ingredients for your custom event menu to the very end where they may donate any leftovers from your event to local non-profits or community programs. Even if you can’t find a green caterer in your area, you can ask any caterer to implement as many of these types of sustainable serving options as possible.

Most venues allow you to bring in zero waste stations, if they don’t already provide them for you. Zero waste stations typically provide a recycling bin, a compost bin, and a trash bin grouped together to make it super easy for attendees to dispose of any materials they consume appropriately. Some zero waste stations also include a space to pour excess beverages so it makes the clean-up easier, too. This is especially ideal for events that may be serving canned or bottled beverages.

Three plastic zero waste containers with bags in metal standsCommunications Director Joe Horaney from the Solid Waste Agency shared that they purchase portable zero waste container set-ups for events. “These are good because they are clearly marked and [include] the recycling container bags. They are transparent so you can see if any materials that should not be in there and are being thrown in the wrong bin.” These containers allow you to also add branded signage just above the disposal point.

“With the compost bins, [event organizers] will need to make sure the liner is compostable, too,” says Horaney. “Contamination is the big issue. Even with clear markings or signage, if you do not have someone assigned to monitor these bins, people will put garbage in all three.”

Develop Sustainable Marketing Materials

Technology has evolved and is continuing to evolve at a rapid pace – so this is the best time to lean into it! When you’re thinking about ways to reduce waste and develop sustainable marketing materials for your green events, go digital. Save the expense and the cost of printing paper materials. Here are marketing concepts to consider when going green:

  • Send invitations by email or social media
  • Provide an event app with agendas, maps, and event information instead of printed handouts
  • Ask attendees to bring laptops instead of providing them with notebooks
  • Opt for digital signage around your venue
  • Use dry erase boards instead of paper flip charts in your breakout sessions
Event app on mobile phone offers agenda, videos, polls, documents, and other tools for attendees in a virtual manner

Event apps, like Whova, offer event organizers the option to go green with event information at their attendees fingertips and no wasted paper

If it’s absolutely necessary to print materials of some sort for your event, limit the amount of what you’re printing. It’s also possible to use recycled paper for your print materials. You can also use smaller font sizes and decrease the size of your margins to optimize the space on any paper you may use along with printing double-sided. 

When you’re looking to help your speakers, sponsors, and exhibitors find sustainable marketing solutions when they’re engaged with your event, offer them virtual options to produce their content digitally. This can include digital lead capture, digital signage in their booths, or even live streaming their presentations for them to avoid unnecessary fuel consumption.

Exhibitor booth display with energy-efficient TVs and blue LED uplighting on metal truss

Connect with Event Professionals Dedicated to Green Events 

There is no one single way to reduce your carbon footprint, especially when it comes to producing an event. There are many small changes event planners can make to live events to be more eco-friendly. Whether your event is brand new or has been around for years, it’s never too late to convert to green event practices. Connect with the team at Wired Production Group to discuss how we can help you incorporate the best green event practices into your event production.