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5 tips for creating a more sustainable event

March 6, 2023

You want to host a sustainable conference or event. Now what? 

Get these five sustainable event tips and many more.

Free sustainable events checklist

If you’re reading this post, it’s likely because you want to host a sustainable conference or event. Great! Now what? 

Any event or conference organizer knows that thousands of decisions—little and big—go into organizing a successful event. While layering sustainability into those decisions may seem daunting at first, if you start with some of the bigger decisions, the rest will eventually become second nature. 

Here are five tips for creating a more sustainable event:

1. Pick a sustainable location

When you hear location, you’re probably thinking venue, venue, venue. But the city or town where you host your event or conference matters—from public transportation options to how the city handles its waste.

2. Be selective about your venue and accommodations

Your venue and hotel or other accommodation decisions can make or break your event. Look for a venue willing to accommodate your sustainability standards, or better yet, one with high standards to begin with.  

3. Think ahead to manage your waste as sustainably as possible

To host a sustainable event with minimal or zero waste, you should look for opportunities to reuse and recycle materials. But what about ways to cut out waste altogether? Ditch the SWAG, encourage attendees to bring reusable mugs or water bottles, and do your due diligence to get that catering order to match the number of attendees to really minimize food waste.

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4. Make outside-the-box choices

If you really want to go the extra mile, there are additional options and tactics to consider to reduce your event’s emissions. From the food—for example, going meatless for all a conference’s meals—to sustainable staff uniforms, there are additional opportunities to make sustainable choices. Fortunately, any uncommon tactics also serve as great marketing opportunities to showcase your commitment to attendees and sponsors. 

5. Calculate your event’s emissions and purchase offsets

Once your event is over, any event organizer knows that there’s still work to be done. In addition to your regular post-event work, you should also calculate your event’s emissions. Share the success and opportunities for next year—or your next event—to create transparency and build trust with your conference attendees and sponsors. 

While we wish hosting an event with no waste and a non-existent carbon footprint was an option, this isn’t the reality of the world we live in today. Make a plan to offset what you can’t avoid.  

Get these five sustainable event tips and many more.

Free sustainable events checklist

Editorial statement
At Sustain.Life, our goal is to provide the most up-to-date, objective, and research-based information to help readers make informed decisions. Written by practitioners and experts, articles are grounded in research and experience-based practices. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by our team of sustainability professionals to ensure content is accurate and aligns with current industry standards. Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.
Sustain.Life Team
Sustain.Life’s teams of sustainability practitioners and experts often collaborate on articles, videos, and other content.
Ben Gruitt
Ben Gruitt is a senior manager of sustainable solutions at Sustain.Life. He has over five years experience as a carbon solutions manager, consultant, and technical lead that integrates sustainability into organizational culture.
The takeaway

1. Pick a sustainable location, including host city
2. Think twice about your venue and hotel choices
3. Manage your waste as sustainably as possible
4. Make some non-obvious choices
5. Calculate your event’s emissions and take action for the next one