You know it’s time. You already recycle, switch extra lights off, and maybe even compost so it makes sense for your next event to be top-notch sustainable. Some of the world’s largest events have been sustainable, from the SuperBowl to the Academy Awards and the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Here are ten steps for creating a sustainable event the Sage way:

1) Get your team on board

Discuss your sustainability goals, criteria, and metrics with your planning team. Make sure everyone is on the same page and as committed as you are to reaching the goal of sustainable planning.

2) Prioritize

Identify the largest sources of emissions and waste related to your event. Air travel, local vehicle transportation, and food & beverage waste are typically the largest culprits. Focus your efforts.

3) Find green partners

Did we mention how important having your team on board is? This extends to all your event partners. Find venues, contractors, and suppliers with solutions that support your goal of going green (as much as possible). Think about catering, entertainment, transportation and printing. Committed partners will offer services to reduce your event’s impact. Examples include: carbon offsetting, low-emission vehicles, vegetable-based inks, recycled or 100% post-consumer paper and food scrap collection just to name a few.

4) Where’s the party?

Choose a LEED-certified venue. Other trademarks of sustainable venues include water-efficient equipment and heating scheduled around meeting needs.

5) Pick your venue wisely

Choose a site close to public transportation. Another option is to provide shuttle service.

6) Easy on the pocketbook

Make being sustainable the cost-effective choice for your guests. For example, offer room deals for hotels within walking distance of your venue.

7) Just enough food

I’ve seen too many event planners throw out the excess. Speak to your caterers. They’ll have insight into how many people their orders will feed. Arrange in advance to donate leftovers to a charity.

8) Offset that carbon

Have guests flying out to your event? Think about building the cost of carbon offsets into your ticket price. Use a carbon-offset calculator and source a reputable carbon-offsetting company.

9) Give them only what they need

Everything participants receive has to be eventually disposed of. Think of how you’ll reuse, recycle, or compost that material. For example, name tag holders are easy to reuse so place a box at the exit for guests to leave their name tags in.

10) Rally the troops

Get people excited about being green. Tell your guests about your specific efforts to create a sustainable event. Get them involved. Tweet about the recycled paper you’re using, promote the hotels in close proximity on your website, and motivate people to feel a part of the effort.

Sage Words

Where to get started? Begin with the most important tip on the list, getting your team committed to going green. It’s tough to be the only person banging the drum, so start by inspiring everyone to be on your side!

Up Next: A Supply List For Your Sustainable Event

Kimberly Rohachuk

Kimberly Rohachuk

Over my career I've had the honor of working on some major events, including the World AIDS Conference in Vancouver, G8 Foreign Ministers meeting, and the Vancouver 2010 Olympics bid delegation to Prague. I’ve also worked with a number of corporate clients all over the world delivering hundreds of events for groups ranging from 50 to 1,500 people.

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