How green are your business exhibitions, corporate events and conferences? While the benefits of greater environmental responsibility for us all are well known and beyond doubt, what can an individual business do to make it more sustainable? What actual steps can you realistically take today that will make a difference?
Luckily, when it comes to organising and hosting business events, there is plenty you can do.
- Use technology to reduce paper waste
Paper waste accounts for half of all business waste, and cutting down on paper should be an easy way to incorporate green issues into your business event planning strategy.
Event programmes? Handouts? Questionnaires? These days, it can all be done digitally. As long as wireless internet is freely provided at the venue, delegates can access everything they need online and download files to their hard drives or use cloud storage as necessary.
You can apply the same principles during the events planning phase too. Do away with paper invitations or postal mail-outs and get organised electronically. Not only will you save paper and postage, you probably get better and faster response rates too!
- Book and environmentally friendly venue
Look at the green credentials of the events venues you are considering. How energy efficient are they? Has any effort been made to incorporate solar energy, biomass boilers, rainwater harvesting, green roofs or any other green technologies into the fabric of the buildings to make them more sustainable?
If you’re using a venue finding service for your conference or business event, why not specify that you are looking for business venues with green credentials? Their professional advisers should be able to shortlist some suitable venues for you, based on your specifications.
- Insist on recyclable or reusable materials
Imagine how many cups of tea or glasses of wine will be consumed during your event and think of the mountain of landfill waste that will have been generated by the discarded plastic cups, plates and utensils at the end of the conference. Better to steer away from plastic – instead, why not ask your caterers to use crockery, ceramics, china and glass that can be washed and reused?
If for whatever reason you have no option but to use paper, how about at least switching to recycled material? That goes for plates, cups and napkins as much as for sheets of A4.
- Manage your guest list and minimise food waste
Next, think of the food leftovers that will inevitably go to waste after the event. Here, the only way to create a sustainable business event is to have an accurate idea of numbers of attendees, and then tailor your catering order to these figures.
Unless this is your first corporate function, you will have data on previous events that are perhaps similar to the one you are planning now. Look at past attendance figures and the type and quantity of food and drink you ordered to see whether you can better match supply and demand this time. One idea could be to order individual meals rather than buffets, so that less goes to waste.
- Use local suppliers and support the community
If you are in charge of your own catering, look locally for suppliers who share your sustainability aims and who can supply fresh produce straight to you. By cutting out the middle man, you will help boost the local economy and reduce food miles too. You may even save some money!
Rather than feel the need to impress your guests with extravagant menu choices and endless food options, much of which will end up uneaten and thrown away, you could make a commitment to seasonal produce, locally supplied and freshly cooked. Go for quality rather than quantity.
Finally, what to do with the inevitable leftovers? This is a perfect chance to ‘give back’ to society and donate any remaining food to a local food bank, homeless shelter or other charity.
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer working together with Best Venues London, a FREE venue sourcing service unearthing the most unique venues for events and functions across the UK.