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How green is your event?

publication date: Jul 15, 2013
author/source: Leanne Hitchcock

Increasingly, people reward organizations for socially responsible behavior. With public awareness of environmental issues becoming top of mind for many, charities can either ramp up their environmentally friendly practices or ignore this trend at their own peril.

With that in mind, Hala Bissada recently gave a presentation on making your event greener at a breakfast panel featuring authors from the book, Excellence in Fundraising in Canada.

When planning an event in today’s environmentally conscious society, there are a number of key areas to consider.. Bissada advises that it’s important to share the green strategy with key stakeholders, to outline what steps you are taking to make your event green and to turn suppliers into partners in your greening efforts.

Key considerations for a green event

Venue Selection – Choose a city with a good transportation system and major transportation hubs. Ask whether the venue has environmentally responsible heating and air conditioning systems.

Meetings/Conferences – Can you provide public transportation passes for attendees or facilitate carpooling? Perhaps you can encourage virtual participation for participants as an alternative. Email materials or print only what is needed. Print double-sided and adjust margins to minimize the number of pages. Use soy-based ink.

Event Promotion – Promote your event using social media such as Twitter and Facebook as much as possible. Use recycled paper when you can. 

On site – Look for alternative ways to power the event. Use digital signage. Don’t forget to reuse lanyards, signage and linens. Choose centerpieces that are sustainable, such as plants.

Use technology – An event app can be used for schedules and tickets and reduces paper use. Toronto International Film Festival is a prime example of an organization that does this well.

Waste – Some simple steps such as providing recycling bins for bottles and paper or eliminating bottled water entirely can make a huge difference. Just think about it – 200 delegates x 2 bottles of water x 2 days = that’s 800 bottles!!

Food –Choosing a responsible caterer who uses locally sourced food, or donating your leftovers to an organization that redistributes prepared food are other ways to be environmentally responsible.

Hala Bissada is President and CEO of Hala Events, an international award-winning events firm and one of Canada’s foremost event fundraisers.  She contributed a chapter on event planning to Excellence in Fundraising in Canada.  To purchase your copy, click here.

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