Making your event more environmentally friendly

Hi all,

Wondering whether anyone here has thought about reducing the environmental impact of their events.

We’ve looked at food waste reduction, recycling, travel options but I’m sure more could be done.

Any experiences to share or tips?

Thanks in advance.

We’ve gone as paperless as we can do. I was shocked at how much waste there was when I took over the role. We used to order masses and masses of literature for people and most of it came back from the events and got thrown away.

Now we do it all electronically apart from one small poster we print out to state that we can send them what they are interested in.

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@NatashaGiller are most your attendees still bringing paper tickets or have they switched to e-tickets? I don’t really understand why people still print out their tickets, it just seems so much more effort than taking it on your phone, not to mention the waste.

My colleague @Jacqui_Davidson will have a better sense of that than me…

Around 50% of particpants still bring their tickets printed out. We advise for them to bring on their phone but I guess some people just like to feel their ticket in their hand.
We alway recycle all paper at events and select venues often on sustainable credentials. However agreed it seems wasteful in terms of effort to print and then not forget when it is all on you phone.

To be honest, Nick, we haven’t done tickets at all. As the delegates are specifically invited and register to the events, we have a full list of names and they check in with us when they get there and we check them off electronically and give them their badges.

I’m massively keen on this topic! I’m currently on the hunt for environmentally friendly name badges. Does anyone have any tips?

@Jacqui_Davidson ?

We always try to recycle the plastic badge wallets by reusing for at least 2 if not 3 events. Participants are always happy to give them back to us when explain that we reuse them and this makes it better for the environment and also our costings.
I am however always on the lookout for a better solution in regard to a more environmentally friendly wallet.

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I’ve been exploring ways to get rid of the plastic badge wallet, although you would need a durable badge material for multi-day events.

Something like the option on the left seems ideal from a sustainable point of view, although granted, there would be some faff in attaching the string lanyard!


It’s a really interesting topic. Major environmental impact and carbon footprint I guess is from transport. But there’s a lot of small actions that can be done. Right now I’m finishing a project about sustainable tourism with Hosteling International Iceland, and I learned that it’s all about small steps. As many of you said reducing paper is a really important one you can also print some stuff in scrap paper, as well as having recycling on site at least of plastic an paper and buying in bulk when possible.

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One big environmental factor that people often forget about/don’t know about is what you’re eating at events.

It sounds like a big claim, but if you eat meat (particularly beef) at an event, that is potentially worse for the environment than the transport you took to get there.

There’s a UN report here that shows that livestock farming has the same emissions footprint as global transport (the whole world’s cars, trains, plains etc combined). Essentially, if one stopped eating beef for the rest of their life, it would have the same positive impact as never driving a car again.

So if you want to reduce the environmental impact of an event, one way is to not have beef served!

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That’s very true about beef. The environmental impact of beef is 10 times the impact of chicken or pork. Cows are incredibly inefficient at converting grain to meat; the loss of 1 kilogram of beef has the same effect as wasting 24 kilograms of wheat. Red meat production affects air and water quality, ocean health, competes with biodiversity and is the largest land user in the world.

We don’t all need to become fruitarians but I suspect it is very easy to switch beef for chicken on event menus and most attendees would not care. In terms of using pork, in your experience, does this create issues for those with dietary restrictions, perhaps for some religious groups?

I’d quite like to put a few example menus on my website showing meals that are delicious but with lower environmental impact (another one on my todo list :grin:). Would this be helpful, do you think?

Also, do any event organisers in the UK have any experience of serving this beef substitute, Beyond Meat? Apparently it looks and tastes like ground meat and has even fooled food critics. I’m not sure if it has reached these shores yet though.

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I thought it might be useful to show where the environmental impact of events comes from, in case it helps to focus efforts.

This graph was calculated from the carbon footprint of a basketball game in the US.

Obviously this isn’t representative of most events. Does anyone have any other information on carbon footprints of events? I’d need number of attendees, mode of transport that they used to attend and how far they travelled, type of venue used, type of food served, and materials (i.e. handouts) provided. If you were able to share your data with me, I’d be happy to crunch the carbon calculations and convert it into a graph or infographic.

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Hey, don’t have any data but do have another question :slight_smile:

Do many venues track and publish this sort of stuff?

We use 15Hatfields in London and they say they are London’s most sustainable venue…

I don’t know of any venues that publish this type of data consistently. I think part of the issue is that venues all track the data in their own way. Perhaps they don’t have the expertise in house to assess their environmental impact or perhaps they worry that their actual data shows that they haven’t met their aspirations.

There are also quite a few “green” accreditation schemes for hospitality venues, which adds to the confusion.

I haven’t visited 15Hatfields and cannot verify whether they are the most sustainable venue in London! They certainly seem to be doing great things though and I commend them for displaying this publicly and setting an example. They certainly seem to understand the issues that they can control, such as food sourcing and waste, and it’s great that they have an environmental management system in place so that they can actually monitor their impact and the improvements that they make.

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Beyond Meat replied to my email to say that they haven’t made it to this side of the pond yet. Sigh. So still on the hunt for tasty meat alternatives!

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Just came across this interesting organisation:

Anyone worked with them? Their aim is to share practices for improving the environmental impact of events (particularly music and festivals) and helping organisers put them into practice.

This event of theirs was last week, but looked interesting:


Im sure you have already come across this, but the fabulous Julie’s Bicycle have a whole load of resources for events and festival organisers on their website - lots of good tips on how to make events greener in all aspects - audience transport, waste, marketing, power etc.


Came across this awesome UK based app that aims to reduce food waste by allowing people/restaurants/shops etc to share their surplus food. Would surely work well for events given the amount of waste/left over food sometimes?