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How to put sustainability at the heart of your 2023 corporate events

ESG, carbon reduction, sustainability and environmental commitment are all phrases thrown around in meetings and mentioned in annual reports, but what do they really mean when it comes to event planning and execution?

The event industry still has a way to go when it comes to direct impact on the environment but by taking practical steps together UK businesses can create positive change for our clients, communities and the planet.

At BeaconHouse Events we take conscious steps to reduce the impact of our delivery at every step of the process, including putting sustainability clauses in all contracts, communicating with our clients and guests electronically, minimising travel during the planning stages and sharing best practice so we can continually learn how to do things more efficiently.

Small steps can create big change. Here are some practical tips to make sure your 2023 events make a real difference…

1 Leave real footprints, not carbon ones

Firstly, consider whether your event will have the same impact as an online experience, this will help you cut down on unnecessary travel right from the get-go. If you do decide that an in-person event is the way forward, make sure you communicate green travel choices to delegates well in advance so they can plan ahead. Include information on safe walking routes to the venue, e-transport options like e-bikes or scooters and the closest bus and rail connections so people don’t have to rely on cars or taxis to reach you. If you know you have delegates arriving from the same location offer a ride-share service or encourage car-pooling by putting delegates in touch with each other ahead of the event.


2 Track and TRACE

You don’t know how far you have come if you don’t know where you started! Work with an event team who use carbon tracking platforms like TRACE to gather data and report on the carbon footprint of your events, allowing you to benchmark your progress year on year. Clearly communicate what sustainability steps have been taken with your team and your guests and encourage 360 feedback on where there could be improvements next time. Not only will feedback give you valuable learnings, by raising awareness of your environmental commitments you are more likely to attract and retain skills to your business.


3 Don’t be trashy

Where possible give marketing materials and equipment a life outside of your event rather than throwing them away and use digital platforms to communicate key messages. Print materials like lanyards on recyclable stock, not just from sustainable materials, and incentivise guests to bring their own reusable bottles by offering free refills or prize draws. Everyone loves a challenge, gamifying recycling onsite can add a little healthy competition to proceedings, while putting your sustainability message front of mind.


4 Live life on the veg

Food is always a big draw at any event and providing vegetarian or plant-based catering is a tasty way to cut down your carbon footprint. According to the UN, meat and dairy accounts for 14.5% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions, which is roughly the same as the exhaust from every car, train, ship and aircraft on the planet! Work with caterers to offer high-quality veggie alternatives and if you don’t want to go fully meat-free consider using produce that meets farm assurance standards such as LEAF, a standard that links farming and the environment. When it comes to serving up, a buffet or bulk-serve experience is a much greener option than individually packaged portions and double check your cutlery and plates aren’t single use too.


5 Go digital

There are plenty of tech solutions that can make your life easier and give you eco-friendly points in the process. Use digital signage to help your delegates navigate the venue and communicate electronically with guests and each other wherever possible. If there is information for guests to take home, send links to downloadable handouts and use digital screens to gather and share ideas rather than paper flip-charts.

If you do have to print make sure you arrange for it to be collected and recycled, reuse sheets for printing drafts and print on both sides of the page in black and white rather than colour. Consider vegetable oil based inks or work with suppliers that share your sustainability goals.


6 LED the way  

Use spaces that utilise LED lighting rather than fluorescent, the former uses much less power per unit of light emitted and there will be limited difference in the look and feel of the space. Equipment that uses LED lighting is usually a lot lighter and event spaces need less of it – that means that production companies need smaller vehicles and less trips to get the equipment on site too.


7 Give back

CSR and SDG are likely to be high on your agenda in 2023, offer delegates the opportunity to pay-it-forward and support an environmental or sustainably conscious charity through ticket donations. Alternately offer tips on how a business can offset their carbon emissions by getting involved in tree-planting or green energy initiatives.

If there are any event freebies left after the event give them back to the sponsor so they can be used at a future event, donate them to charity or advertise on an online marketplace like Facebook, freecycle or OLIO.

For more information on BeaconHouse Events or to speak to the team about your 2023 goals email or give us a call on 0191 691 3456.