Sustainable Event Planning Guide
1. Identify a few Key Areas with the highest impact to focus on.
Start with a good understanding of your event and areas where resources maybe intensive, over-used or wasted.
If you are new to sustainability, try not to take on every area of resource or waste. It can be a daunting task. Instead, shortlist a few areas that are the biggest impacts in your event and focus on these e.g. Food & Beverage, Banners & Printed Materials, Displays/Deco, Energy, Water, Waste.
For example, if catered food is the highlight of your event or festival, go to the Food & Beverage Key Area, and explore the various ways you can reduce the impact. Read how Ridge View Residential College (NUS) minimised their catering impact here.
If your event has volunteers and you want to provide volunteer T-shirts, consider printing organic cotton T-shirts to minimise your environmental impact. Better yet, do away with T-Shirts that get used only for one event. Read about the negative effects of cotton here.
Etrican produces GOTS certified organic
cotton T-Shirts & Cotton Tote bags
Consider replacing volunteer T-Shirts with Armbands, Vests or Badges that help identify volunteers.
Badges worn around neck of volunteers at Earthfest 2017
Green vests worn by Green Nudge volunteers at OSIM Sundown 2018.
2. Engage your event stakeholders in the process for the best possible outcome.
For example, if your event has on-site stall holders/exhibitors distributing food, work with them to provide at least 2-3 healthy, organic, vegetarian food choices. Work with them to reduce food packaging and/or source for sustainable alternatives.
- Consider social aspects such as accessibility.
- Explore xhebit’s Directory of green product & services.
- Read Case Studies to get ideas of how other events introduced sustainable initiatives.
Responsible Business Forum 2017
Focus Areas: F&B, Print, Plastic Waste
OSIM Sundown Marathon 2018
Focus Areas: Recycling, Engagement, Food Waste
Focus Areas: Education & Outreach, Waste, F&B
Ridge View Residential College
Focus Areas: Food Waste, Sustainable Catering
3. Consider working with community groups.
Read about how Green Run Ambassadors collaborated with Standard Chartered Run 2017 to tackle waste. Tzu Chi Foundation partnered with Income Eco Run 2018 to ensure better recycling and reducing overall waste. Read Case Study – Standard Chartered Marathon 2017 on how Green Run Ambassadors were engaged.
Green Run Ambassadors volunteering at Standard Chartered Run.
Questions to ask when planning your event.
Information on sustainable initiatives should be available on event website, registration page, and email correspondences. Promoting sustainable behaviour during events often comes down to event-goers understanding what is expected of them. Feedback from event-goers has revealed that often they are unaware of the sustainable initiatives in place. E.g. Recycling efforts are in place but attendees are not aware and therefore end up going to the nearest bin.
Designing a sustainable event requires putting some thought into the process from the event-goers perspective. For example, an event decides do away with goodie bags to reduce resource use, but decides to give attendees snacks and drinks. Holding the snacks and drinks in hand frustrates attendees, and they end up complaining. As a result, event organiser decides going sustainable was not a good idea. But the real problem lies in the process not being well-thought out
Pre-Event - Communicate
1. Communicate clearly with suppliers and on-site stall holders what is expected. It gives them time to prepare and think through solutions. Communicate clearly with event-goers (e.g. during registration) that the event is sustainable and provide information on the green initiatives in place – this helps attendees orientate themselves ahead of time, and are more likely to co-operate.
2. Incentivise event-goers by providing ticket discounts or a free coffee, if patrons bring their own mugs. This helps cut back on paper cup or Styrofoam waste, and helps businesses save money. Provide the option to refuse goodie bags and instead offer a discount voucher or a discounted registration fee. Very often, goodie bags and the items within are discarded soon after the event, indicating the disinterest in these items. Read our Research Report on Re-Thinking our Goodie Bag Culture to learn how trends are changing.