Sustainable event practices are more important than ever among an increasingly eco-conscious population. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, research suggests that 62% of adults globally say it’s now more important than before for companies to behave in a more sustainable and eco-friendly way.

Recently, attractions such as sporting events and concerts have received unflattering reviews for not considering the environmental impact of their logistics and transportation. Both the media and public opinion make it clear that the events industry needs to modernise its approach to sustainable practices to stay relevant. Indeed, 59% of people surveyed in 2021 stated that they were prepared to boycott businesses seen as failing to prioritise the environment.

Why are sustainable events important?

Keeping up with the latest trends in sustainable event design is essential to keeping your attraction relevant and popular. Consumer demand for proactive support of the environment has never been higher , with an overwhelming 91% of the public keen to see brands demonstrate clearly what actions they’re taking to support the planet.

Contrast that with the amount of waste created by events and attractions, and the results are concerning. The Show Must Go On’s report on the environmental impact of UK festivals concludes that these events create 25,800 tonnes of waste annually. An average 33% of that goes to landfill.

Event organisers know that waste is an unavoidable part of the industry. What’s just as important to recognise, however, is that having a clear policy for sustainable practices should be a critical part of planning your event. It’s an important factor to establish and/or reinforce your credibility as a creator.

How to plan a sustainable attraction

So, what can savvy event organisers do to make sure that their attractions combine fun with sustainability? Here are five tips to help make your event more environmentally conscious.

1. Minimise waste and litter

According to event agency Meet Green, a typical conference event attendee will generate 1.89kg of waste per day. Although it’s tough to reduce that figure outright, there are steps you can take to make sure waste gets handled sustainably.

First of all, make sure littering doesn’t become an issue by providing an adequate number of bins for your event. It might sound obvious, but it’s an all-too-common occurrence for event organisers to fail to scale up the number of available bins for larger events.

Larger sustainable event venues also need to factor in increased waste collection rates for higher attendance rates. And, of course, providing recycling options and/or biodegradable packaging alongside non-recyclable waste bins is essential.

2. Reusable and recyclable items

Event organisers can reduce the need for litter bins – and the amount of landfill waste – by making refuse reusable and recyclable wherever possible.

According to the Show Must Go On report, 15 UK festivals in the summer of 2019 used charity Frank Water‘s water refill service. On arrival, event guests had the option to buy a water bottle that could be refilled with chilled, filtered water for free at any Frank Water stand. Over the summer, 182 volunteers served a total of 169,152 x 500ml refills, potentially saving thousands of single-use plastic bottles from being sent to landfill.

3. Sustainable transport

Attractions in major urban centres usually don’t lack sustainable travel options. Guests can take public transport, cycle, or walk to events in the most well-connected areas. But what if your attraction is based somewhere off the beaten track?

It may seem like cars are your only option for guests to attend, but that doesn’t mean you can’t incentivise alternative approaches. Coachella Festival famously offers entry into a VIP ticket competition (‘Carpoolchella) for all attendees who car-share on their journey to the event site. Most major events will now also partner with local bus or coach companies to offer shuttle services from larger transport hubs.

4. Look out for wildlife

Outdoor and pop-up events in green areas are known to have negative behavioural and physiological effects on wildlife. A recent ecological report looked at nearly 40 years of research on the impact of human recreation on wildlife. Based on their findings, the authors recommended that human activities should be considered to be impacting wildlife at least 250 metres away.

Given the scope of disruption caused by popular events on local wildlife, what steps can organisers take to mitigate the damage? London Wildlife Trust offers a good example of how event creators can provide their guests with instructions and advice to avoid causing excessive disturbance to nearby animals. Where necessary, they strictly limit the number of guests who can attend to protect the local environment. For the same reason, they prohibit dogs – who might disrupt the habitat – from events in some areas.

5. Manage emissions

Carbon and waste emissions have an enormous impact on your event’s sustainability profile. The level of logistics involved in organising a popular attraction means that many factors are likely to be emission-producing: from transport to and from the event to food and beverage production on-site, as well as staging, lighting, and more.

Consider carbon-offsetting ticketing schemes to reduce the environmental footprint of your event. You could offer this as a donation included in the cost of a ticket. We’ve also written a post with some more ideas to help organisers reduce their carbon footprint.

You should also make sure whoever you partner with for your event is taking comparable measures to reduce or eliminate emissions from their processes. To help with that, we’ve put together a directory of sustainable suppliers and organisations.

Next steps to planning your attraction

For a more in-depth look at sustainability in event management, head over to our ultimate guide on how to plan a sustainable event.

Once you’ve put together your strategy for waste management, emissions, and sustainability in general, our event planning checklist can give you a template to provide a streamlined experience for your guests at every touchpoint.

And, if you’re looking to sell reserved tickets for your event in advance, our timed ticketing resource can help you set up and manage your timed ticketing inventory intuitively and with a matchless level of organisational control.

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