April 6, 2020

Going green: 6 ways to make your event more sustainable

Sophia Kassab
Event Producer

As we stay home and wait out the current health crisis, many of us aren’t getting in our recommended 10,000 steps a day—unless you count the parents chasing their now homeschooled kids around the kitchen table, both trying to understand common core curriculum. 

But this sudden stilling of human movement has resulted in some remarkable silver lining stories, from crystal clear Venetian canals to clearing skies around the globe

This resilience of nature is a clear reminder of how human activity impacts our environment, and it begs an important question in our work as event professionals: 

How can we double-down on our commitment to tread lightly on Mother Earth?

While these measures cannot be implemented in the current environment, now is the perfect time to consider these opportunities and stay future-focused. Thinking about environmental impact doesn’t start on show-site—it begins during the earliest stages of the pre-production process.

Here are a few suggestions on how to not only make your next event more sustainable, but make it something that you and your client can be proud of for years to come.

Reduce, reuse and recycle

Over 400 cities across the US ban or tax single-use plastic bags, encouraging shoppers to bring their own reusable bags. The idea of moving away from single-use items is something we can follow with event construction. Re-think your designs with an eye toward multi-year usage. It’s not only a long-term solution for sustainability, but it’s also a cost savings to you and your clients.

Another strategy to consider is to incorporate salvaged materials and repurposing wherever possible. We believe in “designing for disassembly,”  and coordinating the design schedule with the show schedule, to allow for reuse of set walls, platforms and lighting grids so that items can easily be repurposed and materials easily recovered.

This flexible stage set served multiple purposes over the course of a multi-day event with minor adjustments between shows.

And for materials that can’t be re-used or reduced from the outset, donate them to a local organization that can use them to help people in need.  

Use green materials for signage 

Though not always widely thought of in this context, vinyl banners are composed of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and are considered another form of single-use plastic onsite unless reused or donated.

The use of eco-friendly digital signage saves resources. 

For your next event, strive to use substrates that are 100% recyclable and rely on infinitely recyclable aluminum pipes which are necessary for signage installation.

LED lighting

Sustainability doesn’t always mean building materials—it also means energy. Event teams have a responsibility to understand the steps they can take in order to reduce their energy footprint and make things more efficient.

Depending on your event type, your carbon footprint can vary, but from generator shutdowns to walkable events and green-energy destinations, there are numerous ways, big and small, to save energy and resources.

It starts with lighting. LED bulbs consume between 85% and 90% less electricity. Additionally, they produce virtually zero heat, which lowers your cooling costs.

Reduce the need for attendee transport

Environmentally, a walkable event neighborhood can have added benefits for your attendees, as well as being a great “green energy” option. By bringing attractions and activations closer to the attendees, you reduce the need for attendee transport, but also build a sense of immersion for attendees.

For events where a walkable neighborhood might not be an option, consider choosing a transportation provider that is able to access local, new and fuel efficient vehicles.

Encourage ride-sharing

And if attendees are local to your event, the integration of transit into event transportation is another way events can save energy. Statistics show that encouraging transit for local commuters can save approximately five kilograms of carbon per trip. For a 10,000 attendee festival that adds up to 100 metric tons!

A prime example of an energy reduction option that often gets overlooked by event production teams is ride-sharing.  

Ride-sharing services provide a positive societal impact with respect to congestion, pollution and energy consumption, and partnering with a ride-sharing company can be a great way to promote your event for attendees and reduce costs for your client.

Incorporate ride-sharing zones into your transportation planning as a way to encourage shared transportation by attendees.


Cut down on food and beverage waste

Finally, the largest issue facing event companies and marketers alike, food and beverage waste. The good news is, if people are given the option to reduce their waste, especially if it’s as easy and efficient as it is when they’re not reducing their footprint, they’ll not only participate in it – they’ll be excited by it!

And to be a frontrunner of sustainable events, it’s important to take the following into consideration: sourcing food responsibly, reducing food and beverage waste, conserving resources and inspiring attendees to do more.  

Aluminum,  glass,  steel,  and  plastic  cans and bottles should be collected in designated containers with clear signage. Consider providing a number of waste stations including composting, recycling and landfill bins, with signage depicting which types of materials attendees should place in each bin.

Placing a well-marked recycling container next to every trash container, even those for vendors, makes recycling as convenient as trash disposal. 

Thankfully, it’s becoming a world-wide trend, yet some events still prefer single-use plastics for attendees. Strive to eliminate plastics like service ware, straws, and containers for your event.  

An effective way to battle a huge waste producer is to limit the use of plastic water bottles.  Implementing filtered water distribution areas allow attendees to re-hydrate without adding irresponsible waste to what is already a world-wide issue.  

And as always, when possible, the donation of unused food and materials to local nonprofits, charities, and global organizations sends a tremendous message that your clients not only care about their footprint, but are actively trying to make this world a better place.

Go green with Hartmann Studios

We’re proud of the various ways our Hartmann Studios team continues to help our clients leave a lighter footprint at the events. Here is just one example of the outstanding work put in by the combined Oracle OpenWorld 2019 team.

Join us as partners in sustainability as we set the industry standard for environmental responsibility when it comes to your next event.

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