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    Eco events made easy

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    Green has become the new black, as corporate social responsibility now tops business agendas. Elia Nicolas explains the advantages to making your event a green one

    The task of promoting your company?s green goodwill through hosting an eco-friendly event is becoming increasingly important in today?s economy. More people are becoming aware of the impact that global warming will have on their lives and the lives of future generations, so any business helping by putting in place environmentally friendly initiatives needs to effectively communicate its green plans.

    Promoting these methods can set your business apart from your competitors, help to build a good reputation for your company and can attract new customers, subsequently securing your long-term sustainability.

    Hosting a green event revolves around one underlying rule: reduce, re-use, recycle. Put simply, a green event is one that is hosted in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. The objective is to reduce the consumption of natural resources, keep waste to a minimum and limit impact on global climate.

    Meetings, conferences, expos, trade shows and other functions are some of the largest producers of waste and greenhouse gas emissions in the world. According to MeetGreen, during a typical five-day conference 2,500 attendees will use 62,500 plates, 87,500 napkins and 90,000 cans or bottles. Because of this, organisers have a duty of care to limit the negative impact that event hosting has on the environment. By following green practices, event planners can significantly reduce this damage.

    Environmentally friendly events are just as easy to plan as their not-so-green counterparts. The first step is to allow plenty of time to implement your ?greening? practices and principles, because it may take longer to research the most suitable suppliers. Incorporating greening ideas from the early planning phase right through to post-event analysis and conference reporting is essential to ensure you deliver a truly green occasion.

    By following a code of conduct outlining the proper practices, any organiser can host a green event.

    Code of conduct
    Venue: Select a venue that supports your green goals and has an environmental policy. Choosing hotels and suppliers with green policies and practices will automatically improve the ?eco-friendliness? of your event. Check whether the venue has an eco-procurement policy that gives preference to sourcing and purchasing local produce and services. Choose a venue with an in-house recycling programme for glass, paper, plastic and organic waste and encourage its use. Finally, pick a venue that is easily accessible and encourage delegates to travel by public transport.

    Leverage technology: Rather than send hundreds of invitations, complete with inserts, create a website with all the details of your event. Sending out email invitations rather than printing them will minimise paper use. Invite delegates to join the event by video conferencing. Advanced communication technology enables you to reach more people while reducing business travel and energy costs.

    Transport: Transportation is one of the largest contributors to air pollution and greenhouse emissions. Encourage your delegates to take public transport by offering to refund their train or bus tickets. When organising taxis, try to group together people who need to be picked up or dropped off at the same station and encourage taxi sharing.

    Event materials: Go paperless ? try to avoid printed hand-outs and if it?s essential then use recycled or eco-friendly paper. Better still, upload all your conference material on a USB stick. If you must print, use double-sided printing for all collateral and meeting-related material.

    Decorations: Offer to buy decorations from previously used events when they?re no longer needed. This not only saves on cost, it also stops everything being sent to landfill.

    Recycle: Think before you print those reams of conference material. Can name badges, folders, labels and other stationery be saved and re-used another time? Can unwanted papers and brochures be donated to schools or charities? Use reusable dishes, utensils, tablecloths and napkins that can be washed instead of being thrown away. Go the extra mile by establishing a compost programme for all food and waste. Composting can reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and subsequently reduce methane emissions. Do this by requesting recycling bins from the venue.

    Source: Choose your catering and giveaways wisely. Use caterers that are in close proximity to the meeting to reduce the carbon footprint of transporting foods. Think Fairtrade, local, organic and in season when it comes to refreshments. Use filtered instead of bottled water and ensure your delegate bags and giveaways are from sustainable and ethical sources.

    Budget with a conscience: Allocate some of your budget to offsetting carbon emissions from your event. Make a tangible contribution to society by giving a donation to a favourite charity or get your delegates involved in a local environmental project as part of a team-building exercise.

    Donate: Rather than have caterers bin leftovers, get in touch with a local homeless shelter and offer to donate the food. It not only saves on wastage, but also helps those less fortunate.

    There are many advantages to developing a ?greening? plan, including cost-saving opportunities in both the long and short term. You will build a positive reputation through creating awareness of the need to reduce the negative impacts of hosting events.

    Using ecologically friendly ways adds charm and character to an event, which will be sure to make it one to remember. Furthermore, you can set the bar and encourage other companies to go green. Remember, using a green approach when hosting an event is good for you, the planet and your budget too.

    Elia Nicolas is Director at event management company Beyond Certainty. For more information on the firm?s services, visit beyondcertainty.com

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    Molly Dyson

    Former Editor – PA Life

    All stories by: Molly Dyson