How to Create Super Sustainable Business Events That Impress Your Attendees

If you’re currently organising any type of business event — whether it’s a networking event, industry conference, expert seminar or a workshop for your employees — make sure that you’re doing it in a sustainable way.

Why Should You Switch to Sustainable Event Management?

If You Host B2C Events

When you’re hosting an event, it’s important to consider your customers’ needs. Customers care about sustainability — and they like it when you do too. A study by Unilever has shown that a third of customers actively seek to buy from brands that are known to be involved in social and environmental initiatives.

This increased priority is likely due to the largest customer segment — millennials — holding socially responsible beliefs highly. Millennials are willing to actually pay extra for products and services that promote sustainability. Sustainability doesn’t just mean going green or any adopting other eco buzzwords — customers are also demanding more transparency from brands in general to make sure all their practices are ethical.


If You Host B2B Events

The sustainable style doesn’t just go down well with the average customer, but it also attracts new leads and employees to your business. For business-facing events, having a moral theme running through it is key. Again, millennials are driving this trend, with three-quarters willing to take a pay cut in order to work for a sustainable brand. The concept of valuing social responsibility is spreading, as half of the entire US workforce won’t consider working for a brand if they don’t practice Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

These statistics are pretty hard to ignore, and you can’t deny that having strong values helps to attract job seekers and customers alike. 90% of CEOs agree with this notion, stating that they think sustainability is the key to success.

Steps to Create Super Sustainable Events

1. Do Your Market Research

Evidently, by doing a little digging around, there is a huge segment of people looking to actively engage in your sustainable event. To create a truly successful event, you can’t just blindly delve into what you think will be environmentally friendly. Find out about what causes your attendees care about the most and make these your focus.

The most integral part of your event actually happens after the occasion. You should always create a post-evaluation, where the benefits of doing so are two-fold. Firstly, you can use these figures (attendance, engagement, etc.) to educate your team on their key successes and to inform future opportunities. Secondly, you can create a document to release to the public to shout out about the impact that you’ve had.

To make your post-evaluation super successful, you should do a little bit of work prior to the big day to collect some historical data. If you do this, you will be able to compare your current results with your previous performance. In this case, you want to work out the environmental impact of your events so that you can gauge how much — and where — you can improve. This also proves to your attendees that you’re making a solid effort to increase sustainability.  

2. Prioritise Paper

This next tip is obvious but, nevertheless, essential. Switching out plastic for paper is one of the simplest ways to convey sustainability. Even for people with a limited knowledge of ethical practices, this will have a significant impact. We all know that plastic is generally bad for the environment, so consider buying some biodegradable straws for a quick win. As an added bonus, paper straws are trending right now — in fact, they are so in demand that New York bars have been struggling to source them.

If you want to fight for a timely issue, moving away from single-use plastics is the answer. In the UK, the proposed plastic tax, which has been nicknamed the latte levy (due to Brit’s constant consumption of coffee), is currently being debated in parliament. This customer taxation will force anyone who is buying packaging with plastic to pay a fee.  

3. Consider Wellness as a Theme

With awareness about mental health rising, corporate businesses have been making more of an effort to offer their employees wellness activities. As part of their benefits package, most employers will offer some sort of health support in terms of occupational therapy. However, organisations have been taking this to the next level by providing meditation classes, healthy snacks and mental health workshops. Search engine giant Google is well-known for its benefits, including advice on personal finance and free wellness food when working.

The rise in wellness activities isn’t just reserved for the employed. Freelancers who have taken advantage of the remote working trend, which allows individuals to work from any location, are being treated to resort-like offices too. Across the globe, there are a number of wellness-focused coworking spaces for the self-employed who need to work efficiently and de-stress. Adopting this theme for a sustainable event could be a real winner in order to gain some widespread traction.

4. Make Freebies Functional

Despite the tradition of giving out a bunch of freebies at corporate events, this isn’t at the top of the wishlist for most attendees. Creating a quality event with an engaging agenda is far more important so that people can take away great memories of the day — not more junk with your business name printed on it. Make sure your main event offering is up to scratch before you think about this category. For example, if you’re hosting a seminar, spend a little cash to hire the best guest speaker and people will forgive you for the lack of free stuff.

Besides, there are a whole host of eco-friendly promotional items that are far more functional than the average giveaway. You can opt for some truly creative crafts, such as a desktop garden tube to spread a little bit of wellness to other offices. If you must give away the traditional printed pen, you can find a recycled version of that too. Also, custom mugs with logo printing and branded umbrellas could be a good choice as a promotional item and are becoming increasingly popular. 

5. Urge Your Attendees to Register Online

You’ve already cut out the paper, but you can go one step further by ditching the printing too. Creating digital invitations is a simple way to send out your RSVPs and event information to your contact list. This route isn’t just sustainable, but it’s also a huge time saver — and probably more convenient for your guest list too.

There are endless options online that allow you to put together an event that looks professional and appeals to your target market. You can use popular events website Eventbrite to set up your event notification — this tool is also a useful way to increase attendance, as it has inbuilt social sharing tools to enable wider reach.

If you don’t want to compromise on individual style, you can use providers like Evite, which allow you to choose from various templates so that you can pick a design that aligns with your brand. With Evite, you can cut through the noise and send invites directly to people’s most used device — their mobile phone — by sending them a text message invite.

6. Organise Efficient Waste Management

Finally, you should get to grips with how your physical event can impact the environment in the long term. Instead of just shouting out your beliefs with an elaborate theme, take the necessary functional steps to clean up your act. Employing effective waste management during the day stops waste from your event becoming a heap of harmful litter. It also ensures that your rubbish is recycled so that you can walk away with peace of mind.

This step doesn’t have to be complicated or costly, either. Contact your local council and it will often supply this service for free. When publishing your public-facing post-evaluation document, this is also a great partner to add to your list of sponsors to be seen as a sustainable brand.

About the author: 

Adam Middleton became the Business Development Manager for Takeaway Packaging after a varied career in PR, shipping and marketing within the packing industry. With a Bachelor’s degree in Human Geography and a Masters in International Marketing, Adam has a keen interest in the environmental impact of consumerism.