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Making your event sustainable

by Richard Dodgson

Richard Dodgson, creative director at Timebased, gives his top tips for running a more sustainable event. 

Plastic bag bans in supermarkets, protests by Extinction Rebellion, and no more plastic water bottles at Glastonbury: these are just some of the recent media topics you might have seen around sustainability. And rightly so! People are increasingly demanding that companies do better for the environment, meaning sustainability is high on the list of every brand’s priorities. Events, however, can produce a fair bit of waste and consume a lot of energy, but there are steps companies and event agencies can take to reduce this. There are big and small changes that can be made when organising an event and being conscious of these changes will make a lasting long-term impact.

Do you really need that paper?

Going paperless is a simple way to reduce unnecessary waste. Thanks to advancements in technology, everything can be digitalised rather than printed on reams of paper. Brands can now engage with their attendees online through apps, websites or email, all of which can be used to host tickets, and provide information on the event as well as the schedule. This works particularly well with festivals; Glastonbury has an app that lets users personalise their event schedule as well as a live interactive map, creating both a more sustainable and engaging means of interacting with fans.

Going paperless also gives organisers breathing space if any plans change. Digital communications mean organisers can provide updates in the lead up to the event, keep guests excited and make any last-minute changes without creating paper waste.

Let the right light shine

Lighting is, of course, a necessity for any event, yet heavy use of electricity can have a large-scale impact on the environment, so take the time to look through the different eco-friendly and efficient lighting options so you can reduce your event’s carbon footprint.

LED lighting is the most energy-efficient way of illuminating an event and also the most versatile option. It can create different moods and atmospheres to fit the theme and look good without negatively impacting the environment.

How will people get there?

When deciding where to host an event, consider the different methods of travel guests can take, with the goal being to try and reduce the number of cars on the road or planes in the air. For instance, you might choose a location that’s nearby to a train station or ensure you provide free shuttle buses from the nearest station to the event, ensuring people aren’t tempted to hop in their own car instead. You could also incentivise people to carpool, offering a preferential carparking space for those who travel with four or more people in one vehicle, or another incentive like a discount on food spend. The easier you make it for people to choose an eco-friendly means of travel, the more likely they will be to get on board.

Scrap the single use items

Reducing single use plastic is the topic on everyone’s lips, especially since Glastonbury ditched sales of plastic bottles throughout the festival. Plastic cutlery, straws and bottles can all be replaced with eco-friendly recyclable alternatives, such as allowing people to bring (or buy) their own reusable straws and bottles to alleviate pressure on the environment. Furthermore, for items that can’t be reused, providing recycling bins across the event will help encourage attendees to recycle their waste.

Sustainability is such an important factor for event organisers and these small changes can make a great impact on not only the environment, but also brand reputation. Timebased is committed to achieving the ISO 20121 international standard for event sustainability and is on a mission to help our clients be as sustainable as possible.

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