If you’ve ever organized a green event, you know it takes some extra planning upfront, but that it can be highly rewarding for both planner and attendees. What could be more gratifying at an event than learning new things and meeting new people, all while collectively helping the planet?
Rather than give you lots of shocking statistics to illustrate the waste caused by the meetings and events industry, Event Manager Blog explains, “Event footprints are a bit like fingerprints. Each one is unique. And, the best way to know your event footprint is to measure it.” For curiosity’s sake, they do offer stats on the average waste for a three-day, 1000-person event being the equivalent of four compact cars or six tons. Wow. That’s a staggering amount and provides a snapshot of the huge impact meetings and events have on the environment.
Whether a large or small event, enthusiastic event pros are doing their part!
A truly green event requires that you consider all of your environmental touch points and factor them into the entire planning process, so as to minimize your event’s carbon footprint.
Some event professionals have the capacity and resources to plan this type of event, particularly if it’s a large one. They develop an extensive sustainable policy, train staff and educate attendees with their eco-procedures, construct bins for recycling, compost and other materials, and much more.
You may not have the bandwidth or resources for such an extensive policy, or your meeting may be much smaller – yet you want to do the right thing – and the majority of your attendees as well as your sponsors and vendors share your ideals and will become your loyal participants at future events.
Start a green checklist to keep your footprint to a minimum.
Here are some obvious considerations: use your expertise to develop your own list.
Coming in on top, air and car travel are the largest contributing factors to an event carbon footprint. Can you provide remote conferencing for those far away?
Is public transportation available to the venue from the airport?
Can you provide a shuttle service?
Does the venue include the hotel or is it within walking distance?
Are there green initiatives or a sustainable policy already in place at the venue?
Does the event site use any renewable energy sources like solar panels?
Is the food organic or locally sourced?
Are your plates, cups and cutlery biodegradable or can they be reused?
Is there a local initiative for donating leftover food to?
Do you understand what waste management encompasses, such as how it is collected, transported, disposed of or recycled after the event?
Can you provide recycling and waste disposal bins for attendees to easily access?
Are you familiar with the recycling rules of your venue location? MRF or Material Recovery Facilities, exist everywhere and are run by municipalities, large companies, or privately run operations.
Does your venue have water fountains and drinking glasses rather than bottled water?
Some planners offer stainless steel vacuum-insulated tumblers that your attendees can refill throughout the event.
How about offering other sustainable swag like recyclable notebooks, tote bags, or reusable stainless steel straws?
While online registering, event apps, social media and other digital tools are commonly used, non-personalized signage and other printed materials have their place at events and can be used again. Same goes for Vinyl Name Tag Holders and Lanyards -- for a smaller event, collect at the end for future use.
Reuse, Reduce, Recycle as early as preschool.
The three R's of waste hierarchy are the widely known principles for a sustainable life and planted in our heads as early as preschool through songs and play, so that we grow up to be conscientious citizens of the Earth. Naturally, we follow the three R's when developing anything eco.
"Before we create an eco product, we make sure it falls into one if not all three of the R categories," explains Jayne Martinson, product development and merchandising manager.
After lots of R&D, Jayne and the product team are excited to unveil our Eco Event Passes, both which are made of recycled materials and can be recycled post-event.
The Eco Event Paper Pass is a durable, non-laminated 10 mil paper card made with 10% reprocessed fiber. Its 14 mil plastic counterpart is a sturdy tear-proof pass derived from 40% production waste. It's also non-laminated but has a double-sided matte finish that's water-repellent making it ideal for indoor or outdoor events. Like our Event Badges, these passes allow for full-color printing on front and back.
And, to create an eco-ensemble for your attendees, consider pairing either of these passes with our Recycled Lanyard which they'll never believe is made from 100% recycled soda bottles; the fabric feels so smooth to the touch while wearing a crisp, full-color imprint.
Over 1200 eco-friendly products and growing!
Jayne emphatically points out that many of our products, both commodity and exclusive, feature eco-friendliness. For instance, Paper Name Tag Inserts that are recycled 100% post-consumer content are just as professional and bright white as our regular inserts.
Or, our best-selling Flex Name Tag Organizer which not only reduces its shipping footprint due the compact travel design, is also made of plastic PET and can be recycled after many uses.
Now it's leaner to go greener.
While we've offered green products for over a decade or so, as awareness grows of the effects humans have on the planet, more people including your event stakeholders are calling for better practices and better eco-friendly products.
"Based on industry demand and growing consumer expectations, we researched and tested several substrates before we launched our green certified paper and recyclable plastic passes," says Craig Erickson, product development manager.
"Simultaneously, our suppliers are coming up with more innovative substrates and materials, bringing the cost of producing eco products down, so events can be cost-effective and sustainable," he adds.
According to pc/nametag Sales Manager Kindra Evans, the excitement about our passes at recent trade shows was palpable.
"Planners stopped by and one after another asked, 'What do you have for eco?' and I was so excited to show them our Eco Event Passes," she says. "There's no greater feeling than knowing we're supplying them with well-tested, authentically green products."