“Hosting a sustainable event is not only gaining in popularity, it’s also way easier than you think.”

I vividly remember spending hours in a small meeting room at the host hotel doing pre-conference prep the night before a client’s national conference. My butt was sore from so much sitting and I had a crick in my neck from passing 3-hole punched paper from the stack on my left and inserting it into the binders piled on my right. At 9 pm I bought pizza for 3 event volunteers when I realized we still had at least two hours of binder stuffing left to go and I didn’t want to have to do it alone.

pile of binders

What exactly were we doing, you ask?

In 2003, handing over stacks of paper organized with tabs in a ‘conference binder’ was a thing. Conference materials were something that delegates expected as a take-away and listed as an ‘inclusion’ in event registration fees.

This was obviously well before the idea of eco-friendly events came into play.

Even now, I’m constantly reminding clients that there is no need to print off copies of presentation worksheets or hand out promotional collateral to event attendees. I also gently admonish event sponsors who send cheap and plastic-y swag items branded with their logo for delegate bags or inquire about passing out a flyer promoting their products or services as delegates exit an event.

Thankfully, hosting a sustainable event is not only gaining in popularity, it’s also way easier than you think.

Here are 5 quick and easy ways to make your next event a green one:

#1  Go Digital – digital event programs, schedules, copies of PowerPoint presentations, business cards, etc.

#2  Venue Choice – select a venue that has a mandate to host eco-friendly events – like hotels who plant a tree for every guest who opts out of daily housekeeping service or donates leftover food to a local shelter or food bank.

#3  Reduce Travel – encourage car-sharing between airport and event venues, organize a walking tour instead of a shuttle bus, and promote train travel over air travel.

#4  Give Back – make social impacts by offering learning opportunity to local students who need/want volunteer experience at events.

#5  Gift Greenly – select environmentally friendly suppliers for event clothing, souvenirs and gifts and pick items that have a shelf-life (not one-time use) or are consumable.

These are only a few ways to reduce your carbon footprint at events and make a positive impact. For more tips on how to host a sustainable event, I like this article that not only shares more suggestions on green events, but also demonstrates how it’s good for your brand.

As for those conference binders …. They have died and gone to binder heaven. RIP binders. RIP.